The Lowvelders join DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks at the top of the Premier Division standings after all three sides grabbed a full houses of log points. The Vodacom Bulls got a consolation four-try bonus point, but the Lions and Tafel Lager Griquas are yet to get off the mark.
Kotze, who made his Carling Currie Cup debut at hooker for DHL Western Province, scored four tries in Pretoria, which has seen him shoot to the top of the try and points’ scorer lists, with 20, followed by Eddie Fouche (flyhalf) of the New Nation Pumas with 14.
All three winning sides in the First Division – the Valke, Leopards and Down Touch Griffons – also got the maximum of five points each for their efforts, as they outclassed SWD, Eastern Province and Border respectively.
Leopards hooker Leibrandt scored a hat-trick of tries against the Elephants which also put him in the lead with tries and points scored (15), followed by his team-mate Danrich Visagie on 13.
The Toyota Cheetahs and Boland Kavaliers, who had first rounds byes, will be in action next weekend as the two competitions pick up pace.
But before that, the Lions will have an opportunity to get on the board when they host DHL Western Province in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.
The last time these two sides met in the Carling Currie Cup, early in December last year, a penalty goal on the final hooter by Tiaan Swanepoel steered the Lions to a 22-19 victory in a tight contest in which either side could only score one try apiece.
Lions v DHL Western Province
Date: Wednesday, 23 June
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Stuart Berry
(Click on the heading for a full match report)
The New Nation Pumas made a statement in the opening match of the Carling Currie Cup as they claimed a commanding 39-10 bonus-point win over the Lions in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
The catfight that kicked off South Africa’s oldest and most prestigious rugby competition saw the hosts outscore the visitors by five tries to one – a clear message from the minnows that they are not to be underestimated.
The Lowvelders dominated at scrum time, particularly in the first half, were accurate in the lineouts, hammered home their momentum with rolling mauls and stretched the Lions out wide.
New Nation Pumas 39 (18) – Tries: Etienne Taljaard, Simon Westraadt, Willie Engelbrecht, Dewald Maritz, Ginter Smuts. Conversions: Eddie Fouche (4). Penalty goals: Fouche (2).
Lions 10 (10) – Try: Sibusiso Sangweni. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty goal: Zeilinga.
The Cell C Sharks overcame bogey side Tafel Lager Griquas 30-16 in windy conditions in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon to start their Carling Currie Cup campaign on the right note.
Cell C Sharks coach Sean Everitt earlier in the week said his squad would be fuelled by “new energy” in the absence of several key players who are part of the Springbok camp and they negotiated a traditionally tricky hurdle in the form of the men from the Northern Cape, who have long been a thorn in their side.
Led by new captain Phepsi Buthelezi at No 8, who scored one of his team’s four tries, the Durbanites were made to work hard for their win, but ultimately came away from Kimberley with maximum points.
The hosts, who also had a new captain in former Vodacom Bulls back-rower Ruan Steenkamp who, like Buthelezi, is a former Junior Springbok skipper, were gutsy as ever. They tried hard but conceded two tries in a 12-minute period after the break and just couldn’t recover.
Tafel Lager Griquas 16 (6) – Tries: Eduan Keyter, Daniel Kasende. Penalty goals: George Whitehead (2).
Cell C Sharks 30 (13) – Tries: Phepsi Buthelezi, Jeremy Ward, Hyron Andrews, Kerron van Vuuren. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (2). Penalty goal: Chamberlain. Drop goal: Chamberlain.
A first-half hat-trick by JJ Kotze laid the foundation for DHL Western Province as they got their Carling Currie Cup campaign off to a perfect start by beating the Vodacom Bulls by 48-24 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
The Capetonians’ class upfront was simply too hot to handle for the defending champions, which is essentially where the game was won. With four tries in the first half, DHL WP were firmly in control, leading by 28-12 at the break.
They added another three after the break, with Kotze completing his haul, but credit to the young men from Pretoria for not giving up and grabbing a four-try bonus point right at the death.
Both sides were depleted due to various reasons, but in the end DHL WP simply had too many players with too much experience for the Vodacom Bulls’ youngsters, most of which still played in the FNB Varsity Cup and Pretoria’s Carlton Cup club league in the last few weeks.
Vodacom Bulls 24 (12) – Tries: Kefentse Mahlo, Richard Kriel, Dewald Donald, Jaco Labuschagne. Conversions: FC du Plessis, Jandre Burger.
DHL Western Province 48 (28) – Tries: Sihle Njazula, JJ Kotze (4), Evan Roos, Dan du Plessis. Conversions: Abner van Reenen (4), Tim Swiel. Penalty goal: Swiel.
The Valke, Leopards and Down Touch Griffons laid down marker in the opening round of the Carling Currie Cup First Division, with all of them recording bonus point victories on the road in the South and East Cape.
The Valke and Leopards scored 50 points apiece, with Robey Leibrandt, hooker for the men from North West, the big star of the round with a hat-trick of tries as they beat Eastern Province by 50-29 at Wolfson Stadium on Saturday.
Approximately 330km towards the west on the N2, the East Randers were too strong for the Eagles and won by 50-17 at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday, scoring eight tries to the three by the hosts.
The final game of the weekend was at Police Park in East London, where the Down Touch Griffons beat the Border Bulldogs by 35-18.
SWD Eagles 17 Valke 50
SWD Eagles – Tries: Marquit September, Luciano Jones, Shane Ball. Conversion: Ball.
Valke – Tries: Armand Grobler, Reuben du Plooy (2), Freddie Ngoza, Denzel Hill, Andrew van Wyk, Qhama Hina, Johan Pretorius. Conversions: Van Wyk (2), Anrich Richter (2), Joshua Vermeulen.
Border Bulldogs 18 Down Touch Griffons 35
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Billy Dutton, Bangi Kobese. Conversion: Anele Zweni. Penalty goals: Lwandile Mapuko (2).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Ethan Williams, Niel Stannard, Domenic Smit, Hannes Janse van Rensburg, Gurshwin Wehr. Conversions: Aphiwe Stemele (4), Smit.
Eastern Province 29 Leopards 50
EP – Tries: Ntsika Fistanti, Davian Swanepoel, Mbembe Payi, Temba Boltina. Conversions: Luvo Claassen (3). Penalty goal: Claassen.
Leopards – Tries: Robey Leibrandt (3), Heinz Bertram, Andries Fouche (2), Duren Hoffman. Conversions: Danrich Visagie (5), Victor Maruping. Penalty goal: Visagie.