The Absa Currie Cup First Division competition has been thrown wide open with four rounds of pool matches remaining after SWD ended the Leopards’ winning streak with a surprise victory in George on Friday.
The Leopards entered their clash against the SWD Eagles with a healthy eight point lead at the top of the log table and, based on their form in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Qualifier, looked set to continue their dominance in the series.
But their winning run ended abruptly on Friday as SWD delivered a fine performance at Outeniqua Park for a 29-21 victory, which reduced the Potchefstroom team’s lead on the log to only four points.
In the other matches, the Border Bulldogs registered their first victory of the season as they defeated the Valke 19-14 in East London and the Down Touch Griffons continued to make their presence felt with a 27-19 victory against the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington.
Border Bulldogs 19 (14) Valke 14 (0)
The Border Bulldogs took full advantage of the Valke’s indiscipline and an early yellow card in the first half in wet and cold conditions in East London on Friday, with fullback Masixole Banda slotting over three penalties in the first 21 minutes for a 9-0 lead.
Their efforts on attack finally paid off in the 35th minute with wing Lindani Ndlela earning their first try of the match, which allowed them to enter the break with an encouraging 14-0 lead.
The Valke hit back in the second half with a try by wing Kyle Hendricks to force their way back into the match, but this was cancelled out minutes later by Bulldogs hooker Mihlali Mpafi as he crossed the tryline for their second try.
The Valke were reduced to 14 men shortly after as Willie Odendal received his marching orders, but despite this they managed to contain the hosts on defence and later scored their second try to reduce the deficit on the scoreboard to five points. The hosts, however, managed to hold on for their first victory of the season.
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Lindani Ndlela, Mihlali Mpafi. Penalties: Masixole Banda (3).
Valke – Tries: JP Mostert, Kyle Hendricks. Conversions: Jaun Kotze (2).
SWD Eagles 29 (13) Leopards 21 (11)
In George the SWD Eagles and Leopards both showed their desire to begin the second round of the competition with a victory as they worked hard on attack and defence in an exciting first half.
The visitors made their presence felt early on with a try by No8 Morne Hanekom, which was followed by a string of penalties by Leopards flyhalf Andre Pretorius and SWD’s Elric van Vuuren.
But a try minutes before half time by SWD flyhalf Martin du Toit reduced the visitors’ lead to 13-11.
Hanekom again had the first say in the second half as he scored his second-five pointer, but SWD wing Alshaun Bock hit back with his team’s second try seven minutes later.
With both teams giving everything the last 30 minutes was tense, but three penalties by van Vuuren to only one by Pretorius sealed the victory for the home side.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Alshaun Bock, Martin du Toit. Conversions: Elric van Vuuren (2). Penalties: Elric van Vuuren (5).
Leopards – Tries: Morne Hanekom (2). Conversion: André Pretorius. Penalties: André Pretorius (3).
Boland Cavaliers 19 (12) Down Touch Griffons 27 (14)
In Wellington the Down Touch Griffons bounced back strongly from a tightly-fought first half against the Boland Cavaliers to remain in second place on the log standings.
Both teams scored two first-half tries, but one missed conversion by the hosts handed the Down Touch Griffons a narrow two-point lead at the break.
The Welkom team managed to build on this thanks to a solid second-half start in which flyhalf Louis Strydom slotted over a penalty to add to a try by flank Frans Sisita.
But Boland fought back and earned their third try in the 66th minute to reduce the deficit on the scoreboard. They were, however, unable to build on this, and conceded a penalty on the stroke of full-time which replacement back Franna du Toit converted to stretch their lead to 27-19.
Boland Cavaliers – Tries: Clemen Lewis, Richard Lawson, Zandre Jordaan. Conversion: Eric Zana, Morne Hugo.
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Boela Abrahams, Frans Sisita, Norman Nelson. Conversions: Louis Strydom (3). Penalties: Louis Strydom, Franna du Toit.