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Rugby | Vodacom Cup

Ambrose Barends © Gallo Images

Eagles hang on for win



The South Western Districts Eagles started like a house on fire but eventually hung on for a 34-27 (halftime 22-20) Vodacom Cup win over Namibia’s Welwitschias at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday night.

There was plenty of action for the 800-strong crowd with the match resembling a basketball game at times, with interceptions aplenty and each team taking turns at scoring points before handing the ball back to a grateful opposition.

The Eagles began as if they had plans to declare at halftime, with right wing Clint Wagman running 75 metres to score a breakaway try after just forty seconds.

Further tries by tighthead prop and man of the match, Deal Hopp, in the sixth minute and centre Howard Noble in the 13th minute gave the home side a 17-0 advantage that few people thought would be relinquished.

And yet that so very nearly happened, with the Namibians showing plenty of guts and determination, as they have done all season in losing causes.

Left wing Sergio de la Harpe, eighthman and tough-as-nails skipper PJ van Lill and flanker Vaughan Pietersen pulled back tries in the first half although the Eagles did manage to hold a slender two-point lead at the break thanks to a fourth try by lock Henk Eksteen.

Prop Brood van der Westhuizen increased the Eagles’ lead to nine shortly after the restart, after which scrumhalf Deroy Rhoode made it 34-20 with half an hour to play when he intercepted a misdirected pass and ran 50 metres.

The Welwitschias, as has become their way, weren’t about to throw in the towel and they were rewarded with a try --- another intercept! -- by classy fullback Chrysander Botha, who also kicked two conversions and a penalty.

But it was not enough to consign the visitors to their fifth straight loss, while the Eagles picked up their second win of what has so far been an inconsistent campaign.

Scorers:

Eagles 34 – Tries: Clint Wagman, Dean Hopp, Howard Noble, Henk Eksteen, Brood van der Westhuizen, Deroy Rhoode. Conversions: Ambrose Barends (2).

Welwitschias 27 – Tries: Sergio de la Harpe, PJ van Lill, Vaughan Pietersen, Chrysander Botha. Conversions: Botha (2). Penalties: Botha.

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