Last-gasp win for Griquas

A try two minutes after the hooter gave Griquas a sensational 33-29 Vodacom Cup final victory over the Blue Bulls in Kimberley on Friday.

Fullback Zane Kirchener touched down in the corner to hand Griquas their third Vodacom Cup title after winning the trophy in 1998 and 2005.

The Blue Bulls lost their fourth final after losing three to the Lions in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The match began, as many finals do, with jittery nerves and a plethora of dropped balls. The Blue Bulls opened the scoring after three minutes with a penalty from flyhalf Jacques Louis Potgieter but Griquas levelled matters with a penalty from pivot Conrad Barnard.

The stop-start nature of the match caused frustration and referee Jaco Pyper brandished the first yellow card in the 15th minute. Lodie Britz was the recipient and Potgieter punished the home side with another penalty.

It was inevitable that the opening try would come via a mistake and this was the case when the speedy Griquas wing MJ Mentz intercepted a wayward Blue Bulls pass and ran 75m to score.

Barnard converted and Griquas led 10-6.

Frustrations continued for both teams and it was not long before the Blue Bulls had one of their own in the sin bin.
Potgieter’s misdemeanour meant the visitors were down to 14 men half way through the first period.

The game once again waxed and waned through some good periods but also some very poor ones. The Blue Bulls pulled three points back with a Ruan Boshoff penalty six minutes from halftime and would have been content going into the dressing just a point behind.

Most coaches would tell you that the minutes just before and just after halftime are some of the most important. Blue Bulls coach Ashley Evert would have been cursing his players as they conceded their second try just on the hooter.

Former South Africa under-21 hooker Dean Hopp crashed over and with Barnard missing the conversion Griquas led 15-9 at the break.

Evert’s words must have been harsh but constructive as the Blue Bulls began the second half in perfect fashion. Straight from the kick-off former Griquas hero Dries Scholtz touched down and only minutes later wing Trompie Nontshinga extended the Blue Bulls lead with a try in the corner.

Potgieter converted both tries and the Blue Bulls led 23-15.

The match would then see it’s third yellow card—this time it was Blue Bulls lock Hendrik Roodt who got his marching orders.

The numerical mismatch gave Griquas a lifeline and they scored their third try just after Roodt’s card.

Eighthman Heinrich Stride bundled himself over in the corner and there were just three points between the teams. Barnard missed the tough conversion and the Blue Bulls had a modicum of breathing space.

Then Barnard and Potgieter traded penalties. First the former brought Griquas level with 12 minutes to go but the latter replied immediately to put the Blue Bulls back in a three point lead.

Barnard brought his side level with his second penalty but Potgieter again had an answer. This time the prop-turned-flyhalf kicked a drop goal to put the visitors ahead for the umpteenth time.

Then Kirchner crashed over to score.

Barnard converted and Griquas were champions. - Sapa

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