Leopards lose but stay in Premier Division

The Leopards lost their second promotion-relegation match against the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park in George 18-17 on Friday night, but retained their Premier Division status in the Currie Cup by virtue of a better points difference in the two play-off matches between the sides.


Leading 18-0 five minutes before halftime, the Eagles seemed set for promotion.


However, the result sees the two sides tied on six log points each from their two encounters and, with the Leopards having won 47-42 last weekend in Potchefstroom, they will again play with the big names because of a superior points difference of four points from the two matches.


It started in the worst possible way for the Leopards when they were uncertain under the kick-off and the Eagles used the opportunity to great effect when their captain Bevin Fortuin scored after only 32 seconds when he went on the drift with the Leopards’ defence a man short.


With Ricardo Croy’s conversion good and the stiff breeze against them, the Leopards were up against it.


Their second try, by Norman Nelson, was also a gem after some good play up front gave them the space out wide.


They also didn’t do themselves any favours. Fighting back from the initial setback they started getting some good ball and played some good rugby – until try-line fever seemed to choke them on three occasions early on and again later in the first half.


Their handling turnovers were exacerbated in the second half when they, just like in the first play-off match, conceded penalties when within striking distance.


However, there was no arguing that the Eagles were the better team before the break.


They looked dangerous with ball in hand, scrummed well to keep the Leopards under pressure when they needed good ball and played it tactically well with Croy outstanding.


Just as good, and showing that his selection for the Emerging Springboks against the British and Irish Lions was well-deserved, was Leopards centre Deon van Rensburg.


He was dangerous every time he touched the ball and also instrumental in the crucial Leopards try shortly before halftime when he put Danie Dames into a gap for the fullback to run a great angle before Basil de Doncker scored. At 18-7 the Leopards knew they could still do it.


That they did with a complete domination of possession in the second half, greater urgency to the breakdown and with their defence added to the surfeit possession keeping the Eagles pointless after the break when they also played into the breeze.


Van Rensburg got a well-deserved try set up by a pin-point grubber by De Doncker, and with the second-chance conversion by Clayton Durandt -allowed because of an early charge – good plus a penalty by him, they crept to within a single point of the Eagles at 18-17.


That was good enough to retain their status.


Final Score SWD Eagles 18 Leopards 17

 

Scorers

SWD Eagles:
Tries: Bevin Fortuin, Norman Nelson.
Conversion: Ricardo Croy.
Penalty: Croy.
Drop: Croy.


Leopards:
Tries: Basil de Doncker, Deon van Rensburg.
Conversions: Cecil Dumont, Clayton Durandt.
Penalty: Du Randt.

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