Unbeaten Griquas crowned SA Cup champions for 2024

rugby25 May 2024 14:05
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Suzuki Griquas © Gallo Images

Suzuki Griquas finished off a perfect campaign by winning the SA Cup – their first major trophy in a decade – when they defeated arch-rivals the Airlink Pumas by 46-24 in a thrilling final at Suzuki Stadium in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

Pieter Bergh's side led from the onset, racing into a 29-0 lead in the first 25 minutes and never lost the lead to clinch a memorable final played in front of a big crowd at their home ground in the Diamond City.

The Peacock Blues – playing in white on Saturday – delivered a masterclass in the first half to effectively take the game away from the gritty team from Mpumalanga.

Griquas led 29-14 at halftime as the Pumas started with their fightback, and the home side had to withstand an intensive period of pressure from the visitors as Jimmy Stonehouse's team served notice of their intension to stay in the game.

However, the hosts’ defence held firm to repel several forward onslaughts from the Pumas and they thwarted two dangerous scoring opportunities by managing to hold up the visiting ball carrier and prevent them from scoring.

Once Griquas managed to soak up that pressure, they somehow found another gear to score two quick-fire tries in the last six minutes to seal the deal.

The home team’s experienced flyhalf George Whitehead was again their standout player by scoring a try, four conversions and two penalty goals for a personal contribution of 19 points.

The men from the Northern Cape made a positive start by scoring a converted try through left wing Sako Makata in the sixth minute, which was converted by Whitehead.

Whitehead then hit the target again barely one minute later when he slotted penalty goal following a high tackle, which saw right wing Stefan Coetzee sent to the sin bin.

This was followed by a penalty try when the Pumas pulled down a driving maul with the tryline beckoning.


With two opponents in the sin bin, Griquas tried to run the Pumas off their feet and it was not surprise when lively fullback Cameron Hufke was sent over in the corner following a two-man overlap, to make it 22-0.

Griquas continued to tighten the screws and six minutes later Whitehead exploited space behind the Pumas’ defensive line when he collected his own grubber kick to run in under the sticks, with the conversion stretching the hosts’ lead to 29-0 inside 25 minutes.

But the Pumas staged their fightback which saw them awarded a penalty try and yellow card for the hosts’ outside back Stephan Smit.

That, and a great counter-attacking try by replacement flyhalf Gene Willemse, narrowed the deficit to 15 points at halftime.

Discipline continued to plague both sides, and just before Willemse's try, Makata became the fourth player see yellow in the first half when he was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

After the break the two teams improved their discipline which resulted in an arm wrestle for possession, territory and points.

Griquas forced another scrum penalty early in the second half and allowed Whitehead to easily slot his second penalty goal of the afternoon to increase the lead to 32-14.

However, the Pumas refused to go away and their forwards started to get more into the game which also saw them enjoying more possession.

It was therefore no surprise when replacement hooker Darnell Osuagwu continued with his try-scoring streak by dotting down for the visitors after a sustained period of pressure.

The momentum was now with the team from Mpumalanga and shortly thereafter it was Pumas wing Lundi Msenge who finished off a move to cut the lead to 32-24 with 10 minutes of play left on the clock.

But two quick tries, by replacements Gustav du Rand (hooker) and Bobby Alexander (scrumhalf), sealed the fate of the visitors and led to wild celebrations by the home team and their supporters.


Suzuki Griquas 46 (29) – Tries: Sako Makata, Cameron Hufke, George Whitehead, Gustav du Rand, Bobby Alexander, Penalty try. Conversions: Whitehead (4). Penalty goals: Whitehead (2).

Airlink Pumas 24 (14) – Tries: Gene Willemse, Darnell Osaugwu, Lundi Msenge, Penalty try. Conversion: Willemse.