The Leopards, South Western Districts Eagles and Steval Pumas registered strong starts to the Absa Currie Cup First Division this weekend as they out-classed the opposition for convincing away victories.
The Leopards ran in six tries against the Regent Boland Cavaliers for their 45-15 victory in Wellington, with the SWD Eagles also securing a bonus point 36-12 win against the Border Bulldogs in East London.
The Pumas on the other hand fought their way to a 29-13 victory against a spirited EP Kings side featuring the union’s back-up players due to the Vodacom Super Rugby clash between the Bulls and Southern Kings.
In the other clash the Valke and Down Touch Griffons played to a 30-30 draw in Kempton Park.
At the Boland stadium flyhalf Eric Zana handed the home team a 3-0 lead thanks to a penalty in the fourth minute, but that was the first and last time the team held the lead as the Leopards took control of proceedings shortly after.
A converted try and penalty by the visitors boosted their confidence, but the defining moment in the match was Boland lock Ben Venter receiving a red card in the 19th minute for punching. This placed the team on the back-foot, which the visitors took full advantage of to cruise to victory.
In East London, SWD were dominant from the outset against Border as they used their pace and skill to play their way on to the front foot. This paid off with two-first half tries and three in the second.
The Steval Pumas, meanwhile, were made to work hard for their victory against the EP Kings in a penalty-ridden clash. But with Pumas flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout’s boot on song, they came out tops. Only three tries were scored in the match - two by the Pumas and one by the Kings - but Bezuidenhout’s tally of 19 points with the boot was sufficient to push the match beyond the Kings reach.
In Kempton Park the Valke came out firing and scored two converted tries in the first eight minutes for a 14-0 lead. But the Griffons bounced back with intent for two tries of their own. A penalty a side to add to this left the scores level on 17-17 at the break.
The second half was equally tense with the teams exchanging more penalties and a try each, but it was a last-minute penalty by Down Touch Griffons flyhalf Louis Strydom that sealed the draw.
Absa Currie Cup First Division round 1 results:
Regent Boland Cavaliers 15 – 45 Leopards
EP Kings 13 – 29 Steval Pumas
Border Bulldogs 12 – 36 SWD Eagles
Valke 30 – 30 Down Touch Griffons