The SWD Eagles and Regent Boland Cavaliers on Friday showed signs in the Absa Currie Cup First Division that they could be finding their form as they registered important victories to stay within reach of log-leaders, the Leopards and the Steval Pumas.
In an exciting third round, SWD pipped the Valke 38-37 in Kempton Park, the Regent Boland Cavaliers edged the Border Bulldogs 22-20 in Wellington and the Leopards registered their third successive win with a 22-18 victory against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth.
The Steval Pumas, meanwhile, cruised to an impressive 56-10 victory against the Down Touch Griffons, who remain one of three teams that have yet to win a match this season. The other teams are Border and the Valke.
The clash between SWD and the Valke proved to be a thriller with the match featuring a try festival, as the Eagles scored six tries to the home team’s five, to secure their second away win.
A hat-trick of tries by Valke centre Willie Odendal to add to two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal by flyhalf Jaun Kotze to only two tries by the Eagles handed the home team an encouraging 25-10 half-time lead.
They stretched this to 32-10 shortly after the break. But the tables turned as SWD took advantage of the Valke’s permeable defence in the second half to run in four tries – the last of which was in the final minute to complete wing Alshaun Bock’s hat-trick – leaving a conversion to decide the match. Centre Jeff Taljard, however, held his nerve and slotted it over to delight of his team-mates for the 38-37 win.
At the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium the Leopards dominated the first half and reaped the rewards with two tries to add to a penalty by flyhalf Adriaan Engelbrecht for their 17-9 lead against the EP Kings.
But a change of tactics by the home side after the break to retain possession rather than pursue their kicking game forced them back into the match and left the Leopards feeding off the scraps.
The Leopards indiscipline didn’t assist their cause as Scott van Breda’s accurate boot allowed the home team to increase their penalty goals to six, which placed his team within striking range of winning the clash. In a gripping end the Kings powered their way over the tryline, but the attempt proved unsuccessful due to a knock on, handing the Leopards an invaluable away win.
In Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas outplayed the Griffons for their 56-10 victory with in-form flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout accumulating 19 points, while wing JW Bell’s hat-trick of tries took the team’s total to seven.
Absa Currie Cup First Division Results:
EP Kings 18 – 22 Leopards
Steval Pumas 56 – 10 Down Touch Griffons
Regent Boland Cavaliers 22 – 20 Border Bulldogs
Valke 37 – 38 SWD Eagles