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Rugby | Vodacom Cup

Ambrose Barends © Gallo Images

Eagles edge Griffons in thriller



The SWD Eagles rallied to edge the Griffons 41-38 (halftime 21-31) in a free-scoring Vodacom Cup match played at the North West stadium in Welkom on Saturday.

A paltry crowd of just 100 hardy souls braved the cool and cloudy conditions but they were rewarded with a thrilling and tense encounter that produced 11 tries.

This see-saw match was only settled with seven minutes to go, when Eagles eighthman Braam Immelman powered over for his second try to put his team three points in front. And so it stayed.

Flyhalf Ambrose Barends, who had already kicked four conversions and a penalty, missed the kick that would have forced the Griffons to score a seven-pointer to win, but his team did enough on defence to keep the home side at bay.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Griffons, who, thanks to tries from centre Thabang Molefe, flyhalf Tertius Maarman, veteran wing Shane Hancke and No 8 Nicky Steyn, held a solid 10-point advantage at the break.

In fact, things looked decidedly rosy for the home team when they led 14-0 with barely eight minutes gone, but the Eagles’ response, through left wing Marcell Potts, was swift and a hint of things to come.

The visitors took just three minutes of the second half to reel in the deficit to three points when scrumhalf Mzo Dyantyi dotted down, converted by Barends.

Lock JP van Heerden stretched the Griffons’ lead once more with a try in the 57th minute, converted by fullback Tiaan van Wyk, but it proved to be their final scoring act of the match.

The Eagles have become known in recent seasons as a nuggety side with a never-say-die attitude and they proved this once again when first Barends kicked a penalty to make it 38-31.

The stage was then set for eighthman Immelman to stamp his mark on the match in the dying minutes, as the big loose forward scored tries in the 70th and 73rd minutes to seal a fine, come-from-behind victory away from home.

SCORERS:

Griffons 38 – Tries: Thabang Molefe, Tertius Maarman, Shane Hancke, Nicky Steyn, JP van Heerden. Conversions: Tiaan van Wyk (5). Penalty: Van Wyk.

Eagles 41 – Tries: Marcell Potts, Howard Noble, Josephus Oosthuizen, Mzo Dyantyi, Braam Immelman (2). Conversions: Ambrose Barends (4). Penalty: Barends.

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