The EP Kings this weekend continued their charge up the log standings in the Absa Currie Cup First Division as they moved into second place with three round-robin matches remaining to place themselves in contention for a home semifinal.
The unbeaten Steval Pumas, meanwhile, have cemented their home semifinal and will be guaranteed the top spot on the log if the trailing EP Kings fail to win all their remaining matches with bonus points.
Lower down on the standings the big battle between the SWD Eagles, Leopards and Regent Boland Cavaliers for semifinal places looks set to come down to the wire as all three teams are still in the running for places.
In the weekends matches, the EP Kings defeated the SWD Eagles 15-9 in Port Elizabeth, the Steval Pumas thumped the Leopards 38-20 in Nelspruit, and the Valke registered a shock 28-21 win against the Regent Boland Cavaliers in Kempton Park.
In the bottom-of-the-log clash, the Down Touch Griffons defeated the Border Bulldogs 24-19 in Welkom.
EP Kings 15 (6) SWD Eagles 9 (3)
The clash in Port Elizabeth was epic as both teams defended like demons to shut out the opposition, which resulted in the match being determined by goal kicks.
While both teams conceded penalties, SWD’s regular infringements cost them dearly as it allowed EP Kings fullback Scott van Breda to keep the scoreboard ticking.
In total Van Breda slotted over five penalties, which accounted for all his team’s points on the day.
SWD’s Justin van Staden, meanwhile, converted two penalties and added a drop goal for his team’s nine points. The victory for the EP Kings allowed them to hop above the Eagles on the log.
EP Kings 15 (6) – Penalties: Scott van Breda (5).
SWD Eagles 9 (3) – Penalties: Justin van Staden (2). Drop Goal: Van Staden.
Steval Pumas 38 (16) Leopards 20 (6)
The Leopards put up a good fight against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit as they went in search of an upset to bolster their semifinal hopes.
But their efforts proved fruitless as the home team outscored them five tries to two, while flyhalf JC Roos had a fair day with the boot, which pushed the match out of range for the Leopards.
The first half was hard fought and this was illustrated by the fact that only one try was scored, with the rest of the points being accumulated from a string of penalties.
The Pumas, however, hit their straps in the second half and increased their try tally to five as their attack came together and they managed to break through the gaps in the Leopard’s defence.
Despite this, the Leopards showed their fighting spirit and scored two tries, one of which was in the dying seconds, to build up a decent score.
Steval Pumas 38 (16) – Tries: Coenie van Wyk, Corne Steenkamp, Jerome Pretorius, Renaldo Bothma, Rosco Speckman. Conversions: JC Roos (2). Penalties: Roos (3).
Leopards 20 (6) – Tries: Jarryd Buys, Luther Obi. Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (2). Penalties: Engelbrecht (2).
Valke 28 (13) Regent Boland Cavaliers 21 (7)
The Valke strung together a solid display against the Regent Boland Cavaliers in Kempton Park to register their second victory of the season and dent the visitor’s semifinal hopes.
The Cavaliers opened up the scoring in the sixth minute with a try by Brendon April, but the Valke struck back seven minutes later with Bruce Muller scoring the first of his two tries.
The hosts’ attacking efforts paid off again before the break as Willie Odendaal crossed the tryline, which forced the team into a 13-7 lead.
The Valke continued to build on their impressive attack in the second half and earned their sixth bonus point for tries as Muller and flyhalf Juan Kotze added five-pointers.
Boland, however, refused to give up and dotted down two tries, one of which was on the stroke of full time.
While it was insufficient to push them into the lead, they earned a consolation bonus point for losing by seven points.
Valke 28 (13) – Tries: Bruce Muller (2), Juan Kotze, Willie Odendaal. Conversion: Kotze. Penalties: Kotze (2).
Regent Boland Cavaliers 21 (7) – Tries: Alwyn Bester, Brendon April, PJ van Zyl. Conversions: Jacquin Jansen (3).
Down Touch Griffons 24 (12) Border Bulldogs 19 (14)
The Down Touch Griffons overturned a 14-12 deficit at the break in their clash against the Border Bulldogs to secure a bonus-point 24-19 victory at home.
The hosts outscored the Bulldogs four tries to three to remain in sixth position on the log with a mathematical chance of sneaking into the semifinals.
But with the side trailing the fourth-placed Leopards by 11 points, these chances are highly unlikely, meaning they will be playing mainly for pride in their remaining games.
Down Touch Griffons 24 (12) – Tries: Inus Kritzinger, Japie Nel, Norman Nelson, Tertius Danniler. Conversions: Joubert Engelbrecht (2).
Border Bulldogs 19 (14) – Tries: Andrew van Wyk (2), Chumani Booi. Conversions: Dale Sabbagh (2).