ON the eve of their departure for the Saru National Club Rugby Championship in Rustenburg, Despatch were stunned by Progress, losing 31-24 in their Grand Challenge Top Seven encounter in Despatch at the weekend.
The last time the two clubs met in June, Despatch won 41-19.
The visitors got off to a good start and took control of the game early on. They took the lead through an unconverted try in the 15th minute.
Progress kept the home side in their own half and were rewarded with another try in the 30th minute. Four minutes later, they increased their lead with a converted try and just minutes from halftime, they added a fourth try to lead 24-0 at the break.
The second half saw Despatch come back into the game. Derrick Memani scored a try in the 50th minute and Despatch fullback Deon Booysen added another five-pointer.
The home side's reserve flank Danwick Davids then added his name to the try-scorers, with Monty du Mond converting all of them as well as slotting a penalty seven minutes from time.
In another Top Seven clash, PE SAPS proved too strong for Gardens in a 44-22 victory at Kemsley Park.
The home outfit dominated the game and went to the break leading 17-0, Christopher Juries scoring three tries.
Other tries for SAPS came from Alton Loxton and Fabian Juries, while Justin Peach added 14 points with his boot.
In the bottom six clashes, Kruisfontein beat Suburban 43-12 after it was 26-7 at halftime in Humansdorp. At the New Brighton Oval, Spring Rose edged African Bombers 13-8. Rose led 5-0 at halftime.
ýHosts Rustenburg Impala will face Boland champions Villagers Worcester in the main match of the opening round of the club championship on Saturday.
The eight first-round matches will kick off at the Rustenburg Impala Club on Saturday, with the winners advancing to the Cup quarterfinals on Monday, and the losers competing for the Plate. The Cup and Plate semifinals will be played on September 19, with both finals scheduled for September 21.
"We are committed to the revival of club rugby, especially among non-university clubs, which is why we decided that this tournament should shine the spotlight exclusively on so-called 'open' clubs," Saru general manager: development Mervin Green said.
"In years gone by, teams such as Roodepoort, Rustenburg Impala or Bloemfontein Police had universities qualifying ahead of them, but now their players have been given an opportunity to see what they can do. With so much history and tradition on show, it is going to be difficult to predict a winner."
Pretoria Police, who go into the event as one of the favourites after beating Tukkies 27-23 in the Carlton Cup final, will play Griffons champions Welkom Rovers, who are unbeaten this year, in the first round.
Whoever emerges victorious will face the winner of what should be an intriguing encounter between SWD Premier League winners Blanco and Western Province's Durbanville-Bellville.
Blanco, under the guidance of player-coach and former Springbok fullback Bevin Fortuin, will have their work cut out against Durb-Bell who, under the tutelage of Jan Loubser, have beaten Maties twice this year.
In the bottom half of the draw, Despatch, who won the national title in 1985 and 1988, are up against giantkillers White River, from Mpumalanga.