Competition for semifinal places rises in First Division
The competition on the Absa Currie Cup First Division log table increased significantly this weekend with the Leopards’ defeat resulting in four of the top five teams being separated by only one log point.
The second-placed Leopards went down 50-47 against the SWD Eagles in Potchefstroom in a decisive result, as it allowed the Steval Pumas to extend their lead at the top of the log to 10 points, while the trailing teams closed in on the side resulting in a log-jam.
The Leopards still managed to hold onto their second-place standing thanks to their two bonus points for losing within seven points and scoring more than four tries. But the Eagles also boast 22 points, while the EP Kings and Regent Boland Cavaliers are only one point back with seven rounds of pool matches remaining.
The Pumas extended their winning run to seven matches with a convincing 69-12 victory against the Valke in Nelspruit, while the Regent Boland Cavaliers defeated the Down Touch Griffons 55-35 in Welkom and the EP Kings slotted over a late drop goal to pip the Border Bulldogs 9-6 in Port Elizabeth.
Leopards 47 (16) SWD Eagles 50 (20)
The clash at Olen Park proved to be a real treat for the fans as the teams ran in a total of 11 tries and fought until the final whistle. The Leopards had the first say as they built up a 10-0 lead nine minutes in for an encouraging start thanks to a converted try by Morne Hanekom and a penalty by flyhalf Adriaan Engelbrecht. SWD, however, hit back with two converted tries before half time to add to fullback Justin van Staden’s two penalties, while Engelbrecht managed another two three-pointers, which handed the visitors a narrow 20-16 lead at the break.
The second half, meanwhile, proved to be equally thrilling with the Leopards contributing five tries – two of which were scored early in the second half, and two in the dying minutes. But unfortunately for the home team three tries in quick succession by the Eagles midway through the half to add to another three Van Staden penalties proved to be enough to seal the 50-47 victory.
Leopards 47 (16) – Tries: Edgar Marutlulle, Jarryd Buys, Johann Laker, Martin Dreyer, Morne Hanekom (2). Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (4). Penalties: Adriaan Engelbrecht (3).
SWD Eagles 50 (20) – Tries: Alshaun Bock, Dumisane Meslane, Gerrit Smith, Martin du Toit, Shaun Raubenheimer. Conversions: Justin van Staden (5). Penalties: Justin van Staden (5).
Steval Pumas 69 (34) Valke 12 (0)
In Nelspruit, the Pumas dominated completely and reaped the rewards as they ran circles around the Valke from the outset. In total the team scored nine tries and conceded only two. Such was their supremacy they secured their bonus-point try on the stroke of halftime to add to sharp-shooter Carl Bezuidenhout’s flawless kicking performance for four conversions and two penalties, which earned them a 34-0 lead at the break.
The home team continued to run riot in the second half as the Valke were reduced to 14 men, with the side crossing the tryline four times in the first 10 minutes to push the match out of reach for the Kempton Park side. The Valke, however, fought back with tries by Juan Kotze and Vince Gwavu in the 55th and 63rd minute respectively for their only points of the match. But the Pumas again flexed their muscles seven minutes from time as flank Jaco Bouwer crossed the chalk for the team’s ninth try and their seventh victory in a row.
Steval Pumas 69 (34) – Tries: Cornē Fourie, De-Jay Terblanche, Jaco Bouwer, Jacques Momberg, JW Bell, Rosco Speckman, RW Kember, Stefan Watermeyer (2). Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (9). Penalties: Carl Bezuidenhout (2).
Valke 12 (0) – Tries: Juan Kotze, Vince Gwavu. Conversion: Juan Kotze.
Down Touch Griffons 35 (22) Regent Boland Cavaliers 55 (22)
The Regent Boland Cavaliers, meanwhile, overcame a tightly-fought first half against the Down Touch Griffons in Welkom to return to their winning ways and secure their fifth victory of the season. The teams were level on 22-22 at the break with three tries a piece. But the Cavaliers broke away in the second half thanks to a fine attacking display, which earned them five tries – three of which were scored in nine minutes – to force them onto the front foot and cancelled out the Griffons two tries. Boland flyhalf Eric Zana’s pin-point goal kicking also contributed to his teams significant lead as he slotted over six conversions and a penalty compared to only two conversions and two penalties by his Griffons counterpart Louis Strydom.
Down Touch Griffons 35 (22) – Tries: Danwel Demas, Inus Kritzinger, Japie Nel, Tertius Daniller, Werner Griesel. Conversions: Louis Strydom (2). Penalties: Louis Strydom (2).
Regent Boland Cavaliers 55 (22) – Tries: Brendon April (2), Cheswin Williams, Clemen Lewis, Eric Zana, PJ van Zyl, Ulrich Pretorius, Wynand Pienaar. Conversions: Eric Zana (6). Penalty: Eric Zana.
EP Kings 9 (3) Border Bulldogs 6 (0)
In Port Elizabeth the Border Bulldogs’ brave defence forced the EP Kings to fight for their 9-6 victory despite dominating possession in the last 60 minutes. Such was the tight nature of the game, the first points were scored in the 36th minute thanks to a penalty by EP Kings fullback Ntabeni Dukisa. His Bulldogs counterpart Dale Sabbagh, meanwhile, slotted over two penalties in five minutes in the second half to take a 6-3 lead in the 52nd minute. The teams continued to battle it out for the next 20 minutes, but a mistake by the visitors handed Dukisa another shot at goal, which left the teams level on 6-6 with nine minutes to go. Dukisa, however, saved the day as his drop goal attempt in the dying minutes proved successful for a 9-6 victory.
EP Kings 9 (3) – Penalties: Ntabeni Dukisa (2). Drop Goal: Ntabeni Dukisa.
Border Bulldogs 6 (0) – Penalties: Dale Sabbagh (2).
Absa Currie Cup First Division log – After round 7
TEAM PLAY W L D PF PA PD TF TA 0-7LB 4TB TOTAL PTS
Pumas 7 7 0 0 307 103 204 36 11 0 4 32
Leopards 7 4 3 0 245 189 56 32 18 2 4 22
Eagles 7 4 3 0 225 238 -13 28 31 2 4 22
EP Kings 7 4 3 0 179 160 19 19 18 2 3 21
Cavaliers 7 5 2 0 171 182 -11 23 24 0 1 21
Griffons 7 1 5 1 175 258 -83 19 33 2 2 10
Bulldogs 7 1 6 0 115 170 -55 14 19 4 1 9
Valke 7 1 5 1 163 280 -117 20 37 1 2 9
Top 10 Point Scorers – After round 7
PLAYER T C P D PTS
Carl Bezuidenhout 2 27 21 1 130
Adriaan Engelbrecht 1 26 11 0 90
Louis Strydom 0 15 14 1 75
Alshaun Bock 12 0 0 0 60
Justin van Staden 1 11 11 0 60
Jaun Kotze 2 10 4 2 48
Edmar Marais 8 0 0 0 40
Ntabeni Dukisa 1 5 7 1 39
Wesley Dunlop 1 4 7 0 34
Leonard Olivier 0 8 6 0 34
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