The SWD Eagles stayed in the hunt for a semifinal spot in the Absa Currie Cup First Division and eliminated defending champions the Regent Boland Kavaliers from the competition with a 42-38 (36-17) victory at Boland Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
In a match of contrasting halves, the visitors dominated the first half -- scoring all five of their tries -- before a strong showing by the hosts in the second threatened a remarkable recovery.
But despite the efforts of the Cape team, they came up five points short of staying alive in the competition and bow out with two round-robin matches remaining.
For the Eagles, the quest for a semifinal berth is still alive after they moved to 36 points and closed to within two points of the Leopards and Griffons above them in third and fourth place respectively.
At the start, Boland came out with a bang, scoring a try inside the opening two minutes when winger Cornal Hendricks went over for a try converted by Elgar Watts, who scored 18 points in total.
But the visitors hit back when Dumisane Meslane went over in the fifth minute, although Elric van Vuuren missed the conversion, his only failed attempt at goal in the entire game.
The Eagles fullback then sent over a penalty, before the lead was more than trebled in the space of three minutes as captain Wilhelm Koch and Ghafoer Luckan scored in the 16th and 19th minutes respectively, either side of a Watts penalty.
The try by Luckan was especially impressive after the ball was splendidly turned over in the Boland 22 metre area and spread to the left where the winger collected and darted over in the corner.
Flanker Lyndon Hartnick added another converted score after 26 minutes, before Johannes Kitshoff received a yellow card two minutes later – the caution as a result of constant warnings by the referee.
With the hosts down to 14 men, Grant le Roux added a fifth try on the half-hour mark, before Boland captain Bolla Conradie’s converted score moments before the interval cut the gap to 19 points at the break.
After the restart, Boland dominated and they were rewarded with two tries inside the first 22 minutes by PJ van Zyl and Nolan Clark.
With SWD realising which way the momentum had swung, they turned swiftly to the boot of Van Vuuren with two quick penalties taking the lead back to 11 points.
And despite a late try by flyhalf Watts, the visitors held on.
REGENT BOLAND KAVALIERS – Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Bolla Conradie, PJ van Zyl, Nolan Clark, Elgar Watts. Conversions: Watts (5). Penalty:
SWD EAGLES – Tries: Dumisane Meslane, Wilhelm Koch, Ghafoer Luckan, Lyndon Hartnick, Grant le Roux. Conversions: Elric van Vuuren (4).
Penalties: Van Vuuren (3).