A late try by Luther Obi helped the Leopards consolidate their position in the top four of the Absa Currie Cup First Division with a narrow 22-17 (17-5) victory over the Boland Kavaliers at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
The right winger scored two minutes from the final whistle, adding to his earlier opener for the hosts as they stole all the points from a match that appeared to be headed for a draw.
Both teams scored three tries apiece on a hot and clear afternoon in the North West, with the visitors left to rue three missed attempts on goal from their flyhalf Eric Zana.
Victory propelled the Leopards from fourth into third place on the standings, ahead of the Eastern Province Kings, who lost 33-32 against the Pumas on Friday, and one point behind SWD Eagles.
The Kavaliers, who stayed fifth on the log, made the brighter start to the game as wide-man Cheswin Williams crossed the whitewash inside the opening four minutes.
But Zana missed the conversion and in the 11th minute the number 10 fluffed a penalty chance – those wasted chances could have given the visitors a 10-0 lead.
Obi then went over for his first try of the afternoon in the 19th minute with Adriaan Engelbrecht, the competition’s second highest points scorer in 2013 behind Carl Bezuidenhout, adding the conversion.
Four minutes before half time, flyhalf Engelbrecht added a penalty and crucially, the Leopards managed a second try on the stroke of half time when Danie Dames crossed.
With Engelbrecht converting, the lead was out to 12 points when the hooter sounded.
Boland did not help themselves after the interval when they were reduced to 13 men after 46 minutes as Jacquin Jansen and Brendon April were yellow carded.
Fortunately, the Cape side averted any damage on the scoreboard during that period and even managed a try of their own courtesy of Johnathan Francke, this time Zana firing over the extras.
And when Brendon April scored a try in the 73rd minute, the scores were remarkably level.
But Zana missed the conversion to put the Kavaliers ahead and Obi’s late intervention ensured the afternoon ended in misery for the visitors.
Leopards – Tries: Luther Obi (2), Danie Dames. Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (2). Penalty: Engelbrecht.
Boland Kavaliers – Tries: Cheswin Williams, Johnathan Francke, Brendon April. Conversion: Eric Zana.