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Close contests throughout the Currie Cup

The 2008 Absa Currie Cup competition could be a memorable one if the first two rounds are an indication of what is to come.

In five of the weekend’s six matches – including the two in the First Division – the result went down to the wire, and in the remaining clash Boland Kavaliers were still ahead against the Sharks shortly before halftime.

Western Province showed with their hard-fought but deserved 26-18 win over the Blue Bulls that the players involved have carried their Super 14 form and confidence into the new competition despite having a new coach.

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And if this was the pick of the matches, pride of place must go to the Valke.

** The Valke beat poor travellers Griquas 36-28 in Brakpan on Saturday to notch up their first Currie Cup win in more than a year with their tight five and especially their destructive scrum leading the way.

Just a week ago the Valke had squandered a 36-17 halftime lead to lose 48-42 to the Kavaliers, while Griquas showed that they’re good enough to challenge the best in narrowly (20-16) going down to Currie Cup champions Free State Cheetahs.

** Taking these three close scores within eight days, the close shave of the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday when they beat the Lions 22-18, further emphasises how close it will be this season with no side assured of victory against any of the opponents – at least early on, before the depth of the so-called smaller unions could catch up with them.

The Cheetahs desperately hung on in the second half against a Lions side that were vastly superior after the break but again squandered points by the dozen for another disappointing result.

They deserved better for their performance than a bonus point – but then, if you keep on kicking the ball away, conceding turnovers and not taking your chances, defeat will be the result more often than not.

Cheetahs flyhalf Chris Rossouw was outstanding, and his 22 points -including a soft try courtesy of a missed Dusty Noble tackle – pipped the 18 scored by Lions flyhalf Earl Rose in a disappointing match of 11 converted penalties and a single try.

** The Kavaliers also did themselves proud against a Sharks side that -as they had done throughout the Super 14 -played for barely half the match.

They seemed incapable of putting things together and led only 11-10 at the break. The final score of 38-13 flattered the Durban sides with two converted tries in the final two minutes giving the shoreline more respectability.

** Western Province beat the Blue Bulls convincingly enough, although they only clinched the match in the final minutes. Trailing 14-3 at the break, WP had the bulk of the possession but not enough penetration or finishing against an outstanding defence – until the last six minutes, that is.

They scored 14 points via two converted tries in the final six minutes -and the match was probably won after a yellow card to the Bulls flank Hilton Lobberts 12 minutes from time. The Blue Bulls were leading 17-12 at that stage.

** In the First Division, a try with the last move of the day gave a confident-looking Griffons side a 34-10 win over the SWD Eagles in Welkom, while the Pumas hung on for their 32-30 win against the EP Mighty Elephants through a missed EP conversion on the hooter.

Sapa –

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