The Griquas showed that they would be a force to be reckoned with in this year's Currie Cup as they downed the Sharks 40-34 in Kimberley on Saturday.
The Griquas showed that they would be a force to be reckoned with in this year's Currie Cup after seeing off the Sharks 40-34 in Kimberley on Saturday.
As was the case in last year's opening weekend of South Africa's domestic showpiece, Griquas were once again responsible for a surprise result.
The home side repeated their winning feats of four years ago when they last beat the Sharks, and were full value for the Round One victory in a ten-try spectacle (five apiece) at GWK Park.
The Sharks, playing with the wind in first half, shot to a 22-8 half-time lead and seemed certain for an opening win away from home. However, as they did last year, eventually paid for their arrogant approach.
The visitors started their Currie Cup campaign playing a much different brand to how they played in the Super 14, looking to run at every attempt and neglecting kicks at goal.
Although there was only fourteen points in it at the break, the Sharks thought it would be one-way traffic in the second half, but Griquas felt otherwise. John Plumtree's troops battled to close out their opportunities while the hosts started to fight their way back into the game.
The home team showed hunger in the second half taking the lead in the 65th minute for the first time in the encounter and not conceding it again.
After a Naas Olivier penalty got the scoreboard rolling, the Sharks answered with the first of ten tries of the afternoon when they created a man extra on the left-hand touchline and wing Lwazi Mvovo had an easy run-in.
They stretched their lead with a second try in the 22nd minute when the Griquas were caught napping. After Griquas were penalised in the scrum, number eight Keegan Daniel quickly tapped and fed his fly-half Steve Meyer to score in the same spot as Mvovo.
Griquas' mauling, traditionally one of their strong points, was again used to effect as hooker Ryno Barnes finished a well orchestrated driving mall.
As was the case with Meyer's try, flanker Michael Rhodes also scored a very soft try when Griquas thought their opponents were going to kick for goal. Scrum-half Rory Kockott tapped quickly and fed Rhodes who only had to dive over the line.
Griquas had a few chances just before the break to close the gap, but tall Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves twice stole their line-out throw.
Dawie Theron, coach of the winning team, must have had strong words in the change room because his lads played with a different attitude in the second half.
First loosehead prop Steph Roberts dotted down for Griquas before the try of the match was scored in the 53rd minute by Bjorn Basson who ran 60 meters from turnover ball
As was the case so often in the match, the hard work was undone when the Sharks scored their fourth try from the very next kick-off. The hosts couldn't control the receiving kick and the Sharks took the ball through the phases before Mvovo did well to score his second in the corner.
Griquas' confidence started to grow and tries followed by flank Wesley Wilkens and another by Basson. The Sharks did fight back with a try by prop Pat Cilliers, but it turned out to not be enough to deny Griquas a perfect start to the competition.
Tries: Basson 2, Barnes, Roberts, Wilkins
Cons: Olivier 3
Pens: Olivier 3
Tries: Mvovo 2, Meyer, Rhodes, Cilliers
Cons: Kockott 2, Dumond
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Matt Rosslee, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier (c), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Wesley Wilkins, 5 Cecil Kemp, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Albertus Buckle, 2 Rayno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Jacobus Adriaanse, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Gerhard Human, 20 Barry Geel, 21 Richard Lawson.
Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Steve Meyer, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Patric Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Andries Strauss.
Referee: Jaco Peyper