The Leopards kept their semifinal hopes alive with a hard-fought 40-33 (half-time 19-14) win over the Down Touch Griffons in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Leopards began the match in fourth place on the log and the bonus-point win lifted them into third place on 37 points, two points ahead of the Eagles, who have a game in hand, and five points behind the second-place EP Kings.
However, they were made to work extremely hard by a Griffons outfit that had won just three off 11 games this season with the unfancied visitors levelling the scores at 33-33 after 67 minutes of play.
But the Leopards had the final say in the match when replacement lock Brendon Snyman crashed over for a converted try in the final minute of the match.
It was heart-breaking moment for the Griffons, who scored five tries, with hooker AJ le Roux crossing for two five-pointers of his own.
The Leopards’ right wing Edmar Marais crossed for two tries of his own with the prolific winger having now scored 10 tries in this year’s competition.
The hosts jumped into an early 14-0 lead with flyhalf Jarred Buys and Marais both dotting down but the Griffons struck back thanks to converted tries for scrumhalf Innes Kritzinger and Le Roux.
But the home team made sure of a handy half-time lead when veteran fullback Danie Dames going over for an unconverted try in the 20th minute.
The Griffons hit the lead for the first and only time, in the 51st minute when wing Norman Nelson streaked over for a converted score.
The lead however, was short-lived as the Leopards clawed their way back in front thanks to Marais’ second try just four minutes later.
Leopards – Tries: Jarred Buys, Edmar Marais (2), Danie Dames, Edgar Marutlulle, Brendon Snyman; Conversions: Buys, Adriaan Engelbrecht (4).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Innes Kritzinger, AJ Le Roux (2), Norman Nelson, Schalk van der Merwe; Conversions: Franna du Toit (4).