The Down Touch Griffons produced a dominant performance to overpower the Eastern Province Elephants 43-16 (halftime 28-11) in the final of the 2022 Carling Currie Cup First Division at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium in Welkom on Friday afternoon.
It was a superb effort from start to finish as the home side ran in five tries to two, as they claimed their fifth first division title and celebrated their promotion to next year’s premier Carling Currie Cup competition in style.
The Griffons were undoubtedly the best side in the competition, going through unbeaten and securing their place in the top division next season.
A perfect season in every sense of the word????
The Down Touch Griffons are #CarlingCurrieCup First Division champions!??#ReachForGold #TheChampionWithin @blacklabelsa pic.twitter.com/3FixsdpzTd— Carling Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) June 24, 2022
In the match it was the Elephants that got off to a strong start and after some good pressure in the Griffons half earned a penalty in the 22m, with flyhalf Garrick Mattheus knocking it over for an early 3-0 lead.
The Griffons soon found their feet and from a scrum just outside the Elephants 22m, the ball was passed to fullback Dommenic Smit running a line, with him stepping a defender and sprinting in for a converted score, giving them a 7-3 lead after 10 minutes.
Griffons scrumhalf Jaywinn Juries and Mattheus then traded penalties, with Juries's second strike giving the home side a 13-6 lead after 23 minutes.
The visitors hit back four minutes later, as they attacked from a scrum on the Griffons 22m, spreading the ball for fullback Mbembe Payi to bamboozle the defence with a vicious step and put wing Rodney Damons in for an unconverted try, to reduce the deficit to two points.
The final 10 minutes of the half saw the Griffons pull away to give themselves an important lead at halftime.
First Elephants hooker Duan du Plessis received a yellow card for cynical play on his own tryline, which allowed the Griffons to kick to touch and power over a maul, with eighthman Soso Xakalashe dotting down and Juries adding the extras to move up 20-11 after 31 minutes.
Over the final five minutes the Griffons scored again through wing Gurshwin Wehr after they spread a ball wide after a lineout in the Elephants 22m, with him in at the corner for an unconverted score, while a Juries penalty with a minute left gave them a 28-11 lead at the break.
Straight after the restart Juries nailed another penalty to go 31-11 up, before the Elephants finally hit back to give themselves a chance to fight back.
A quick lineout near the halfway saw wing Davian Swanepoel make a break, before sending a skip pass to Payi who ran in to score, however Mattheus missed the vital conversion leaving the score 31-16.
A yellow card to Griffons wing Granwill Matthys in the 65th minute gave the Elephants a chance to try cut the deficit with a man advantage, however it was the Griffons who upped the tempo and pulled further ahead with 14 men.
On attack on the Elephants tryline, a cut out pass found inside centre Marquit September to reach over and score a 72nd minute converted try putting them 38-16 up.
The home side then ended the game with a flourish as Wehr was put away for his second try to close out a dominant performance from the champions.
Griffons:Tries: Dommenic Smit, Soso Xakalashe, Gurshwin Wehr (2), Marquit September. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (3), Duan Pretoruis. Penalties: Jaywinn Juries (3) EP Elephants: Tries: Rodney Damons, Mbembe Payi. Penalties: Garrick Mattheus (2)