The SWD Eagles scored eight tries on route to a 51-28 (halftime 26-14) mauling of the Down Touch Griffons in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Saturday.
Two tries each from Shaun Raubenheimer, Lyndon Hartnick and Mzo Dyantyi as well as a try apiece from Gerrit Smith and Jandre Blom put the George-based side in prime position to avoid the unbeaten Pumas in the semifinals.
The Eagles began the match in fourth position, three points adrift of the Leopards, but the full house they gathered today moved them into third position, two points clear of the Leopards, whom they have to face next week in the final round of league matches.
The match began with a furious pace as Raubenheimer went over for his first try in the first minute of the match. Smith converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead after two minutes. But the hosts struck back through their own openside flanker, Martin Sithole, after 14 minutes. Flyhalf Franna Du Toit converted to level matters in an open and flowing match.
The Eagles' centre, Smith, bagged himself another seven points five minutes later with a try that he converted himself, to restore the seven point gap. But Japie Nel then scored his first try of the match, the centre stepping inside nicely to round off a good move, which allowed Du Toit an easy conversion to level things once again.
The Griffons suffered a lack of concentration on the half-hour mark which allowed Hartnick in for his first five-pointer. Blom then took over the kicking duties but failed to find the mark.
The Eagles then captured their bonus point for scoring four tries on the stroke of halftime when Dyantyi burst over. The scrumhalf's try was easily converted by Blom, as the sides left the field with the visitors leading by 12 points.
The Eagles then extended their lead to 15 points as Smith knocked over the only kickable penalty of the afternoon just three minutes after the restart. The Griffons then fought back when Nel crossed for the second time, which he converted himself after 51 minutes, reducing the deficit to just eight points.
But then the visitors started to take a stranglehold on the match as Blom scored a wonderful try. The flyhalf converted himself to restore the 15-point gap.
Dyantyi then raced down the touchline to score his second try with 18 minutes left on the clock to extend the gap to 20 points as Smith missed the conversion.
Sithole then grabbed a consolation, bonus-point try for the hosts, crossing for his second try with only four minutes left. Tertius Maarman, who had replaced Du Toit earlier, added the two points to bring the hosts to within one score of securing a losing bonus point.
But the visitors had other ideas as Raubenheimer and Hartnick crossed the tryline in the final two minutes, with Blom missing both conversions to end off a fantastic weekend for the men from George.
The Eagles face off against the Leopards next weekend in George with the winner having a slightly easier semifinal as the loser will have to travel to Nelspruit to face the unbeaten Pumas.
Griffons - Tries: Martin Sithole (2), Japie Nel (2) ; Conversions: Franna Du Toit (2), Jappie Nel, Tertius Maarman.
Eagles - Tries: Shaun Raubenheimer (2), Lyndon Hartnick (2), Mzo Dyantyi (2), Gerrit Smith, Jandre Blom ; Conversions: Gerrit Smith (2), Jandre Blom (2) ; Penalties: Smith.