Valke win at home against Eagles
The Valke made it two wins in a row in the Vodacom Cup with a 33-26 (halftime 10-14) victory over the SWD Eagles at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Friday night.
The home side, playing in front of just 500 spectators on a mild highveld evening, were outscored on the try-scoring count by their enterprising hosts but had left wing Kyle Hendricks to thank for a second win on the trot.
The Valke dismantled the Border Bulldogs in East London last week to break their tournament duck and Hendricks’ man-of-the-match performance, which included 20 points by way of a try, three conversions and three penalties, will see the East Rand side tackle the rest of the campaign with renewed confidence.
The Eagles are not a bad side, even if they are perhaps not, at this stage of the season at least, the First Division force they were last year.
But form aside, the men from George still managed to score four tries to their hosts’ three to come within a converted score of picking up at least a share of the points.
Eagles tighthead prop Dean Hopp got his team on the board in the ninth minute when he crossed for a try converted by flyhalf Ambrose Barends.
Hendricks kicked a 13th-minute penalty before the Eagles went 14-3 ahead thanks to a score by fullback Baldwin McBean in the 17th minute.
Good sides who find themselves behind on the scoreboard always seem to have a knack of scoring just before the break, and while this Valke side are still far from promotion-relegation contenders they did indeed manage to pull a try back on the stroke of halftime via centre Coert Cronjé.
Hendricks added the extra points, then dashed over for a try, kicked the conversion, and nailed a 46th-minute penalty to give the Valke a 20-14 lead.
The gap soon widened to 13 points when abrasive hooker Shöne van der Walt wrestled himself over with 27 minutes left to put the Valke in a commanding position.
But the Eagles have not developed a reputation for being fighters -- in the best sense of the word, that is -- for nothing, and their never-say-die attitude once again came to the fore when excellent eighthman Braam Immelman dotted down on the 56th minute for scrumhalf Deroy Rhoode to convert.
But it was Hendricks who kept the strong-finishing Eagles at arm's length with a third penalty, before fullback Arno Poley sneaked home a drop goal to make it 33-21 with 16 minutes left.
Centre Howard Noble did manage to grab a bonus point for the Eagles when he scored their fourth try in the 66th minute, but this proved to be their final success in a game in which the spoils, on balance, went to the right team.
Valke 33 – Tries: Coert Cronjé, Kyle Hendricks, Shöne van der Walt. Conversions: Hendricks (3). Penalties: Hendricks (3). Drop goal: Arno Poley.
Eagles 26 – Tries: Dean Hopp, Baldwin McBean, Braam Immelman, Howard Noble. Conversions: Ambrose Barends (2), Deroy Rhoode.