Eagles scrape home against plucky Griffons
The SWD Eagles were only able to tear themselves away from the plucky Griffons' grasp in the third quarter as they scraped to an 18-14 victory in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the North-West Stadium in Welkom on Saturday.
The Eagles scored two tries in three minutes for an 18-0 lead, before the Griffons replied with two in five minutes to make for an exciting conclusion to the game. Twenty-nine of the 32 points scored in the match came in two bursts of scoring - firstly between the 52nd and 56th minutes and then between the 72nd and 78th minutes - with neither side setting the scene alight in the other 70 minutes.
The first half was a sluggish, bruising affair as the two teams bashed into each other, and the Eagles only moved into a 3-0 lead at the break thanks to a penalty by flyhalf Ambrose Barends.
A 52nd-minute try by left wing Joe Breytenbach meant the Eagles led by eight, with Barends increasing the score to 11-0 with a penalty from the re-start. Outside centre Sinethemba Zweni was then able to tear through for a try in the 55th minute, which Barends converted to put South-Western Districts in a comfortable 18-0 lead.
But the Eagles never really got their game into gear again thereafter and the Griffons were eventually awarded for their gritty display when hard-working eighthman Willie Britz went over for a try in the 72nd minute.
Griffons captain and outside centre Werner Griesel, no doubt angry that his team had taken 70 minutes to into gear themselves, then scored an inspired individual try in the 77th minute. With replacement flyhalf Riaan Smit sending both conversions sailing between the poles, it sent the match into a thrilling conclusion and the Welkom crowd into hysterics.
But it was the Eagles who ultimately held on to come away with the win, their eighth in 13 matches over the Griffons since 2005. It was the South-Western Districts team's second successive triumph in this year's First Division, while the Griffons have now won just one of their three games this season.
Sadly, neither team managed to get much rugby on the go on a beautiful afternoon in Welkom on a hard pitch definitely conducive to more exciting play.
Griffons - Tries: Willie Britz, Werner Griesel. Conversions: Riaan Smit (2).
SWD Eagles - Tries: Joe Breytenbach, Sinethemba Zweni. Conversion: Ambrose Barends. Penalties: Barends (2).