A George Tossel hat-trick steered the Leopards XV to a comfortable 40-29 (halftime 30-9) bonus-point win over the Valke in their North Section Vodacom Cup clash at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday.
The centre scored twice before the halftime, and his third shortly after the interval had put the Leopards into a commanding 37-9 lead.
However, the home side produced a rousing second-half fightback, as they registered four tries without response to seal a well-deserved bonus point in an entertaining fixture.
But for all their efforts and courage in the second half, the Valke remain second from bottom in the North Section having amassed just two points, while their more heralded visitors have climbed up to third place in the standings with the bonus-point win.
In fact, it was the visitors who were rampant from the get-go, as Tossel needed just two minutes to get his first, with flyhalf Gerhard Nortier making no mistake with the extras.
Nortier's good day with the boot continued, as he added an additional penalty before converting Tossel's second try of the afternoon in the ninth minute to take it out to 17-0.
And by the time former Springbok Adi Jacobs dotted down for his score under the posts four minutes later, the home side were facing a daunting 24-point deficit.
Fullback Angus Cleophas was able to add three penalties before the break to give his team a glimmer of hope, but trailing by 30-9, the writing appeared to already be on the wall.
Matters weren't helped for the hosts when Tossel completed his hat-trick and the bonus point two minutes into the second half to advance the lead to 28, but it was to be the last display of dominance from the Leopards, as they appeared to take their foot off the gas.
Grant Janke crossed the line for the home side in the 53rd minute, and although Nortier added a further penalty soon after, winger Sandile Ngcobo scored for the Valke to keep them in touch.
Anrich Richter was next to get over the whitewash in the 76th minute, but, crucially, Cleophas had failed to convert any of his team's three tries, affording the Leopards some considerable breathing space.
It meant Drew van Wyk's try in the dying seconds counted for little more than consolation, although the bonus point was due reward for a fine second-half display in which they had overrun the visitors by 10 points.
VALKE - Tries: G Janke, S Ngcobo, A Richter, AJ van Wyk; Penalties: A Cleophas (3)
LEOPARDS XV - Tries: G Tossel (3), AJ Jacobs; Conversions: GJ Nortier (4) ; Penalties: GJ Nortier (4)