The Pumas built on their fantastic start to the Currie Cup First Division as they held on for their eighth back-to-back win, while the SWD Eagles rose to second place on the log in an entertaining weekend of rugby.
The Pumas were made to work hard on Friday to hold onto their 33-32 victory and unbeaten status as the EP Kings delivered a fine performance in Nelspruit, while the SWD Eagles defeated a determined Border Bulldogs outfit 36-31 with a bonus point to leapfrog the Leopards on the log table.
In Saturday’s games the Leopards shut out the Boland Cavaliers for a 22-17 victory in Potchefstroom and the Griffons outplayed the Valke 50-35 in Welkom.
Pumas vs EP Kings
The clash in Nelspruit proved to be epic as the Pumas met their match in an EP Kings outfit strengthened by a number of returning Vodacom Super Rugby players.
The Kings made their presence felt early on with wing Michael Killian scoring the first of the team’s five tries in the fourth minute, which was backed up by another compliments of fullback Scott van Breda in the 28th minute.
Van Breda also slotted over a penalty to cancel out one by Pumas’ points machine Carl Bezuidenhout, which put his team 13-3 ahead. But Pumas hooker Jacques Momberg crashed over the tryline on the stroke of halftime to close the gap to 13-8.
The game opened up in the second half with both teams showing more innovation on attack, and they reaped the rewards.
The Kings had the first say after the break as Carl Bezuidenhout slotted over the second of his three penalties to add to two tries in three minutes by Steven Sykes and Tiger Mangweni.
But a hat-trick of tries by Pumas captain RW Kember, one of which was in the dying seconds, cancelled out the Kings’ third try of the half by scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo and sealed the victory.
Unfortunately for the Kings three missed conversions and one unsuccessful penalty did not assist their cause.
Final Score Pumas 33 (8) EP Kings 32 (13)
Tries: Jacques Momberg, RW Kember (3)
Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (2)
Penalties: Carl Bezuidenhout (3).
Tries: Michael Killian, Nicolas Vergallo, Scott van Breda, Steven Sykes, Tiger Mangweni
Conversions: George Whitehead (2)
Penalty: Scott van Breda.
SWD Eagles vs Border Bulldogs
The first half in George was gripping as the SWD Eagles and Border Bulldogs scored two tries a piece in the first half, with the match featuring nine tries in total.
Two penalties by Bulldogs fullback Dale Sabbagh, however, forced the visitors into a 16-14 lead at the break.
But two tries in quick succession by the home team’s Clinton Wagman and Roy Godfrey provided the mental boost they needed to remain on the front-foot and keep alive their hopes of hopping into second place on the log.
The Bulldogs hit back after a few tight exchanges with Rynardt van Wyk crossing the tryline, which Stephan Gerber built on with another on the stroke of fulltime.
But the Eagles fifth try by Alshaun Bock and a penalty by Justin van Staden was enough to secure their fifth victory.
Final Score SWD Eagles 36 (14) Border Bulldogs 31 (16)
Tries: Alshaun Bock, Clinton Wagman, Dumisane Meslane, Mzwanele Zito, Roy Godfrey. Conversions: Justin van Staden (4). Penalty: Justin van Staden.
Tries: Chumani Booi, Rynardt van Wyk (2), Stephan Gerber.
Conversion: Karlo Aspeling.
Penalties: Dale Sabbagh (2).
Drop Goal: Karlo Aspeling.
Leopards vs Boland Cavaliers
The Boland Cavaliers started strongly in their clash against the Leopards with Cheswin Williams scoring a try in the fourth minute.
But the Leopards took control of the half soon after thanks to their effectiveness at using their point-scoring chances.
SA Under-20 wing Luther Obi proved his worth at senior level at the end of the first quarter as he dotted down the team’s first of three tries, which Adriaan Engelbrecht converted for a 7-5 lead.
Engelbrecht’s accurate goal-kicking kept the scoreboard ticking as he slotted over a penalty and converted another try by Danie Dames to push his team into a convincing 17-5 lead.
Boland, however, fought back with intent despite being reduced to 13 men as Jacquin Jansen and Brendon April were both sin-binned.
With the team forced to retain possession to prevent the Leopards from capitalising on the two-man advantage, their efforts paid off with Jonathan Francke crossing the tryline, while April made up for his yellow card in the 73rd minute by crossing the chalk for their third try.
Flyhalf Eric Zana’s unsuccessful conversion, however, left the scores level with six minutes to go. But Obi saved the day as he touched down for his second try in the dying minutes, which allowed the Leopards to remain in the top three on the log.
Final Score Leopards 22 (17) Boland Cavaliers 17 (5)
Tries: Danie Dames, Luther Obi (2)
Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (2)
Penalty: Adriaan Engelbrecht.
Tries: Brendon April, Cheswin Williams, Jonathan Francke
Conversion: Eric Zana.
Griffons vs Valke
In Welkom, the Griffons produced a fine second-half display to overturn a 25-17 deficit against the Valke for their second victory of the season.
In total they ran in eight tries to only four by the visitors – five of which were scored in the second half – to seal the convincing victory.
Interestingly the bonus-point for scoring more than four tries, marked their third of the season.
Final Score Griffons 50 (17) Valke 35 (25)
Tries: Derick van Heerden, Inus Kritzinger, Japie Nel, Jeremy Jordaan, Marnus Briedenhann, Werner Griesel, Willmar Groenewald (2).
Conversions: Inus Kritzinger (4), Tertius Maarman.
Tries: Coert Cronje, Jongi Nokwe (2), Willie Odendaal
Conversions: Jaun Kotze (2), JC Roos
Penalty: JC Roos
Drop Goals: Jaun Kotze (2).