The Steval Pumas strengthened their position in the Absa Currie Cup First Division on Friday as they held out the Leopards in a table-topping clash to leap into the No1 spot on the log and remain the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
Lower down on the log the Border Bulldogs ended their winless streak by pipping the Down Touch Griffons 22-20, while the Regent Boland Cavaliers thumped the Valke 20-7, and the EP Kings scored a late try to deny the SWD Eagles back-to-back victories.
The clash in George was nail-biting as the Kings staged a dramatic comeback to counter strong starts to both halves by the Eagles for a 35-34 victory.
The Eagles came out firing and played effective rugby by retaining possession for long periods, which they supported with fantastic interplay between the forwards and backs.
Such was their efficient attack wing Alshaun Bock crossed the tryline four minutes into the match for the first of his three tries, and centre Jeff Taljard and flank Shaun Raubenheimer followed to hand the team a convincing lead.
But two fantastic tries by the visitors before the break to add to flyhalf Dukisa Ntabeni’s two penalties allowed the Port Elizabeth team to reduce their lead to 19-16 at the break.
The Eagles again came out with bang in the second half and took control of the match with Bock leading the charge to complete his second hat-trick of tries in as many weeks.
But mistakes at crucial times and bad decisions in the Kings’ half cost them dearly.
The visitors, on the other hand, did well to round off their try-scoring chances and matched the Eagles’ five tries.
The Kings’ rolling mauls were especially effective as was their counter-rucking, which created their winning try in the dying minutes.
In Potchefstroom, dependable Steval Pumas and SA Presidents’ XV flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout played an instrumental role in his team’s invaluable 32-27 away victory against the Leopards, which extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
Bezuidenhout had a flawless day with the boot allowing him to punish the Leopards for their ill-discipline with six penalties to add to his two conversions for a personal tally of 22 points. These penalties cancelled out the Leopards’ effective attack which allowed them to outscore the Pumas three tries to two, and resulted in the home team’s first defeat of the season.
In the other matches, the Regent Boland Cavaliers’ victory marked back-to-back to wins for the side in the tournament and showed that they were on track to finding their form, while Border had to fight for their first victory of the season with a try in the dying seconds sealing the deal.
Absa Currie Cup First Division results:
Border Bulldogs 22 – 20 Down Touch Griffons
SWD Eagles 34 – 35 EP Kings
Leopards 27 – 32 Steval Pumas
Regent Boland Cavaliers 20 – 7 Valke