Currie Cup champs start with Newlands defeat

The 2008 Currie Cup  champions – the Sharks, suffered their first defeat in the 2009 Premier Division competition on Saturday after going down 29-15 to Western Province at a wet Newlands in Cape Town.

Willem de Waal added 19 points with the boot for the hosts while winger Sireli Naqelevuki and lock Chris Jack, scored two tries for the Cape side. The only points scored by the Sharks came via five penalty kicks by scrumhalf Rory Kockott.

“I’m very pleased with the result and this good start will be good for the players’ confidence, but it’s now about maintaining that momentum into next week,” said Western Province coach Allister Coetzee.

“There are a few things I thought we did badly, but I’m pleased to see we executed our game plan correctly. At a wet Newlands, you are never going to play too much rugby. We did well to pin them back with some accurate kicking and our forwards did well to secure the ball. We will take the four points, but there is plenty to work on and we’ll keep our feet on the ground.”

Sharks coach John Plumtree said he was disappointed with the defeat and admitted on Saturday night that his side could struggled in the early stages of the Currie Cup Premier Division due to the non-availability of many of his top players, who will be on Springbok duty during the 2009 Tri-Nations.

“We’ve lost 10 players,” said Plumtree after the match.

“Hopefully Waylon Murray, who has been out with injury for a while, will be fully fit by next week, so that’s one positive, but otherwise we are short on numbers.

We know what the situation is and we’ll try to hang in there until the Springboks return. Hopefully we will still be in contention for the play-offs at that point.”

The Blue Bulls also kicked off their 2009 Currie Cup Premier Division to a winning start on Saturday following their 19-13 victory over the Lions at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria. Lions eighthman Willem Alberts scored the opening try of the match which was converted by Herkie Kruger, who also kicked two penalties to steer the visitors to a healthy 13-0 lead.

However those were the last points the Johannesburg side scored on Saturday. The Blue Bulls showed why they would be a difficult team to beat at Loftus Versveld as they scored 19 un-answered points to pick up their first home victory of the competition.

Tiger Mangweni and Gerhard van den Heever were the try-scorers for the hosts with South African Under-20 flyhalf Francois Brummer, kicking three penalties.

“We are extremely disappointed at not finishing off the match and picking up the win,” said Lions coach Hans Coetzee.

“I was very happy with the way we executed our game plan in the first half. However in the second half, we lost a bit of momentum and that simply cost us the game.

“The Blue Bulls got some excellent first-phase possession and hurt us as we couldn’t slow down their ball possession. We are however very positive about our season ahead and we can only but build on from here.”

Meanwhile in Bloemfontein on Friday night, the Griquas picked up their first win on the road and defeated the Free State Cheetahs 28-18 at Vodacom Park.

The Kimberley side were in rampant mood and ran in four tries thanks to Heinrich Stride, Sarel Pretorius, Barry Geel and Bjorn Basson. Naas Olivier converted all four tries.

For the Free State Cheetahs, Lionel Mapoe and WP Nel were the try-scorers for the hosts. The other points-scorers for the Bloemfontein side came via the boot of Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who kicked two penalties and converted Mapoe’s try. New signing, Louis Strydom converted Nel’s try.

“We are extremely happy with the victory and we’ll enjoy it,” said Griquas captain Jonathan Mokuena after the match.

“But we’ll quickly have to start focusing on our next match and slowly work towards our objectiv

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