Neale Emslie and Mkhululi Ndamase
CALTEX Crusaders pulled off one of the first surprises in the Grand Challenge rugby league when they defeated Gardens 9-6 at Crusaders on Saturday.
The match was played in difficult conditions with a strong wind blowing and Saders president Andre Rademan said they were delighted with the win.
“Gardens are a strong side and this win is a big boost for us,” he said yesterday. “There was a lot of excitement over this victory at the end.”
Another team who were pleased to start on a good note, were Park, who ran out 23-10 winners in their away match to United Barbarians.
“These away games are always hard and we are very satisfied at coming home with the win,” Park president Kobus Wium said.
Meanwhile, as expected, NMMU and Despatch proved too strong for their respective opponents.
NMMU ran out comfortable 41-14 winners over Kruisfontein, while Despatch introduced newcomers St Marks to the realities of Grand Challenge rugby with a 46-3 win.
“It was a tough start for us,” St Marks president Rodney Gallant said. “But we will take the lessons from that match and hope to improve, especially when we come up against Harlequins next weekend.”
Progress produced a match-winning second half to start their campaign on a high note when they overcame PE SAPS 31-27 in Uitenhage.
The home side went into the clash as wounded animals after being beaten by Harlequins in the Super 12 rugby final two weeks ago.
But it was the visitors who got things going and went to the break with a slim lead of 19-14. Progress came back from the break more determined and managed to edge the tough PE SAPS side.
Harlequins had to dig deep to beat Suburban 22-11 in Kleinskool. The reigning Super 12 champions made the most of their opportunities and went to the break leading 10-0.
The never-say-die attitude by the hosts saw them coming back into the game, but the northern areas side capitalised on Suburban’s mistakes to earn the hard-fought victory.
In Grahamstown, Spring Rose humiliated the Brumbies 46-20 in front of their home fans.
Rose took control of the game from the first whistle and enjoyed a 22-6 lead going to the break.
But the Brumbies came back strongly to narrow the gap before the visitors ran away with the game.
Orlando Eagles and African Bombers played to an exciting 14-14 draw in Thornhill.