The Valke overcame a three-point half-time deficit on their way to a 27-22 win over the MTN Golden Lions (half-time 14-17) in their Vodacom Cup match at Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Friday.
The Golden Lions scored four tries to just three from the Valke but errant goal-kicking proved to be the visitors' Achilles heel with just one of their tries being converted.
The match was notable for an unusual occurrence when the game was suspended for 10 minutes, after 35 minutes of the first half, because of lightning with the match officials erring on the side of caution in halting play until the danger passed.
Pre-match rain meant that the two teams were met with a greasy field which did little to help with handling the ball.
The conditions resulted in a scrappy half but it was the hosts that struck first after a fluffed clearance from the Golden Lions’ left wing Leroy Africa saw loosehead prop Nico Engelbrecht rumbling over for a converted try in the ninth minute.
The Golden Lions slowly but surely worked their way back into the contest and, in the 21st minute, tighhead prop Van Zyl Botha muscled his way over from close range for a converted try.
The visitors finally hit the lead with six minutes to go in the half when they opted to turn down a kickable penalty in favour of kicking to the corner and loosehead prop Henri Boshoff was mauled over for an unconverted try.
Play was suspended shortly after the try was scored but the Valke seemed unfazed by the break in play as they scored almost immediately after the resumption after a left-hand touchline attack saw flank Marco van Eeden off-load to Engelbrecht who showed a good turn of pace to go over in the corner for a converted try.
However, the Golden Lions had the final say in the half when they took a quick tap penalty five metres from the Valke’s line which resulted in flank Willie Newman sliding over for an unconverted try as the visitors went to the break holding a 17-14 lead.
The Valke scored just two minutes after the restart when fullback Kyle Hendricks chased through a kick ahead from former Springbok wing Jongi Nokwe to dive on the ball for a converted try.
The Lions regained the lead in the 56th minute when flyhalf Ashlon Davids went over for an unconverted try but it was the Valke who finally gained the upper-hand with two penalties from replacement flyhalf Jaun Kotze in the last quarter.
Valke – Tries: Nico Engelbrecht (2), Kyle Hendricks; Conversions: Wesley Roberts (3); Penalties: Jaun Kotze (2).
MTN Golden Lions – Tries: Van Zyl Botha, Henri Boshoff, Willie Newman, Ashlon Davids; Conversion: Hanco Deale.