The Leopards romped to an impressive 70-25 (half-time 28-8) win over the Down Touch Griffons in their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Qualifier at Profert Olën Park in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
The hosts were in superb form as they ran in 10 tries to four on their way to a great victory. The bonus-point win saw the Leopards move in to second place on the log and just a point behind the GWK Griquas.
The Regent Boland Cavaliers dented the Valke’s chances of securing promotion with an emphatic 35-20 (halftime 20-3) victory in their qualifier at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday.
The score line flattered the home side somewhat as Juan Kotze scored and converted a try after the final hooter had sounded. The Valke fullback had a decent afternoon scoring 15 of his sides’ 20 points with a try, two conversions and two penalties.
On Friday evening in East London in front of a small but vociferous crowd, the Border Bulldogs played some superb rugby at times against the SWD Eagles, but they let a 23-14 halftime lead slip and were beaten 33-31 by the Eagles. There was a nail-biting end as fullback Masixole Banda missed a conversion which would have drawn the match. Instead, Border is still winless after four matches.
Leopards 70 (28) Down Touch Griffons 25 (8)
Flyhalf and former Springbok André Pretorius scored 16 points from eight conversions while fullback Hoffman Maritz and wings Luther Obi and Sylvian Mahuza all scored two tries each for the home team.
Flank Philip de Wet opened the scoring after five minute when he crashed in for a converted try before the Griffons struck back with a penalty from flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet. It was as close as the visitors would get as lock Francois Robertse, Maritz and Obi all scored converted tries for the Leopards in the first half, with only left wing Norman Nelson dotting down for the Griffons.
The second period saw much of the same as the Leopards continued to add to their dominance as scrumhalf Dillon Smit, Maritz, Mahuza (twice), replacement forward John-Roy Jenkinson and Obi all scored converted tries. Nelson grabbed his second try late in the second half while lock Armand Koster and No 8 Nicky Steyn also scored tries for the visitors.
Leopards – Tries: Philip de Wet, Francois Robertse, Hoffman Maritz (2), Luther Obi (2), Dillon Smit, Sylvian Mahuza (2), John-Roy Jenkinson; Conversions: Andre Pretorius (8), Adriaan Engelbrecht (2).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Norman Nelson (2), Armand Koster, Nicky Steyn; Conversion: Pieter-Steyn de Wet; Penalties: De Wet.
Valke 20 (3) Regent Boland Cavaliers 35 (20)
The Valke dominated the first 10 minutes of each half but were unable to make their dominance count while Boland defended stubbornly.
Kotze opened the scoring after eight minutes when Boland were penalised at the ruck. The Cavaliers then grabbed their first try three minutes later after some quick hands from centre Richard Lawson who sent Duwayne Smart over in the corner. Morné Hugo converted from the touchline but then missed an easy penalty shortly afterwards.
Boland then sealed an excellent first half with a try from Nathaniel Manuel while Hugo converted, slotted a drop goal and brought the first half to a close with a penalty. After the restart, Valke wing Coert Cronje rounded off a good backline move by collecting his chip kick to score under the posts.
Despite a penalty from Hugo midway through the second half, the Cavaliers ran straight and hard which secured them two more tries through replacement hooker, Ryno Coetzee. Boland were looking to close out the game 35-13 when Hugo kicked his second penalty with just a minute remaining, but the Valke never gave up after the hooter and Kotze jinxed his way through to score a consolation try.
Valke – Tries: Coert Cronje, Jaun Kotze; Conversions: Kotze (2); Penalties: Kotze (2).
Regent Boland Cavaliers – Tries: Ryno Coetzee (2), Duwayne Smart, Nathaniel Manuel; Conversions: Morne Hugo (3); Penalties: Hugo (2); Drop-goal: Hugo.
Border Bulldogs 31 (23) SWD Eagles 33 (14)
In the first half everything seemed to go right for the Bulldogs. They played an expansive game, their defence was good and they attacked at all times, keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats throughout a thoroughly entertaining match.
Towards the middle of the first half, two runaway tries by Lundi Ralarala and Banda secured 14 points to Border. It gave them a 20-7 lead after Banda had succeeded with two penalties. Eagles skipper Roy Godfrey had scored a try after eight minutes, converted by fullback Elric Vuuren.
Just before halftime, SWD flank Shaun Raubenheimer managed to breach the Border defence which Van Vuuren converted. Banda then succeeded with his third penalty after the Eagles were caught offside. Thereafter the Eagles clicked into top gear and ran in three tries - scrumhalf Dwayne Kelly and replacements Kurt Haupt and Daniel Roberts - while Banda replied with a penalty for the home side.
With time running out and Eagles 33-26 in front, Border wing Lindani Ndlela broke away to score in the corner. However, Banda pushed the conversion wide amid groans from the crowd, and a chance to draw went begging. The hooter sounded moments later, leaving the Bulldogs winless after four games.
Border Bulldogs: Tries: Centre Lundi Ralarala, fullback Masixole Banda, wing Lindani Ndlela. Penalties: Banda (4). Conversions: Banda (2).
SWD Eagles: Tries: Prop Roy Godfrey, flank Shaun Raubenheimer, scrumhalf Dwayne Kelly, replacements Kurt Haupt and Daniel Roberts. Conversions: Fullback Elric van Vuuuren (4).