Griffons clinch First Division title
Brendon Atwell
October 07, 2016

George Whitehead scored 24 points to lead the Down Touch Griffons to the Currie Cup First Division title with an emphatic 44-25 (halftime 20-11) victory over the Leopards at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Friday afternoon.

The flyhalf kicked five conversions and three penalties along with the opening try of the match to be awarded the man of the match award, as the 2014 champions ended the Leopards' 19-game unbeaten run in the First Division. The last time these two sides met in the First Division final was in 2008, which the Griffons won as well.

The home side suffered two yellow cards with Number 8, Jeandre Rudolph, being sin-binned in the 50th minute and then flyhalf Gene Willemse being sent from the field for a high tackle as replacement scrumhalf, Louis Venter was charging for the tryline. Referee Quinton Immelman not only showed Willemse the yellow card, but also awarded a penalty try to the men from Welkom.

Despite an early penalty from inside centre Johan Deysel, the Grifffons moved into a 10-3 lead thanks to Whitehead, who scored the opening try by cutting inside the Leopards' defence to score. The flyhalf converted and then slotted a penalty.

Rudolph crossed the whitewash moments later but the TMO ruled that the captain had put a foot in touch. The Griffons made a mess of the lineout and Deysel setup his centre partner, Adrian Vermeulen, to score their opening try, which was unconverted.

Whitehead and Deysel swapped penalties before the Griffons flyhalf broke beautifully down the middle of the field and offloaded to fullback Selvyn Davids, who ran in untouched to score under the poles. Whitehead converted to give the visitors a valuable nine-point halftime lead.

The home side started the second stanza strongly, scoring their second try through fullback Jaco Hayward just four minutes after the restart to close the gap to just two points, but then the home side fell apart.

Rudolph was shown his yellow card in the 50th minute for not supporting his own weight at ruck-time, with Whitehead knocking over the penalty. Outside centre Tertius Kruger then stepped inside brilliantly to outfox the defence and score his first try, and his side's third of the afternoon.

Rudolph was back on the field for a mere eight minutes when Venter picked up a loose ball and thundered for the tryline, only to be high-tackled by Willemse on the line. Immelman blew his whistle and awarded a penalty try followed by a yellow card for Willemse.

Despite being a man down, Deysel showed some international brilliance by putting through a well-weighted grubber kick, collecting and scoring himself and adding the conversion for a personal tally of 15 points. But the Griffons finished off the afternoon and sealed the title when Kruger collected a loose ball and went in under the poles for his second try, which Whitehead converted.


Leopards - Tries: Adrian Vermeulen, Jaco Hayward, Johan Deysel; Conversions: Deysel (2); Penalties: Deysel (2).

Down Touch Griffons - Tries: Tertius Kruger (2), George Whitehead, Selvyn Davids, Penalty Try; Conversions: Whitehead (5); Penalties: Whitehead (3).


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