Herbst leads SWD Eagles to victory
The livewire JD Herbst, playing scrumhalf and wing, scored two dazzling tries to lead the SWD Eagles to a 33-27 (half-time 19-24) victory over a tiring Border Bulldogs team in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the Buffalo City Municipal Stadium in East London on Friday.
Herbst, who showed blazing speed off the mark and was an elusive attacker all over the field, was the shining light as the Eagles overcame a flying start by the Bulldogs.
Border scored three first-half tries and played well enough, defending heroically in the second half, to leave their supporters eagerly anticipating their first win in this year's competition.
Veteran wing Chumani Booi set the ball rolling in the third minute when he showed yet again that he is just one of those people blessed with both great instincts and enduring pace as he stole an intercept and roared away for the opening try.
Seven minutes later, Herbst had the vision and pace as well to break blind and then speed away for the Eagles' opening try.
Right wing Francois Laatz dashed over in the 16th minute to return the lead to the Bulldogs, but he had the backs inside him to thank for their wonderful handling that created the overlap.
The powerful Eagles forwards had been strangely subdued, but they began to show their strength in the second quarter and flank Shaun Raubenheimer was driven over for the visitors' second try.
Laatz scored his second try, after he had again been worked into space nicely by the backline, on the half-hour, flyhalf Johan Myburgh kicking his third successive conversion to give Border a 21-12 lead.
But the Eagles closed the gap before half-time as flyhalf Theuns Kotze chipped over the rapidly-advancing Bulldogs defence, reclaimed the ball and then dotted down under the posts, making his second conversion an easy one.
A Myburgh penalty just before the break meant the Eagles were trailling 19-24 heading into the second half, but they produced the sort of powerful forward performance one would normally associate with South-Western Districts rugby to thoroughly dominate the last 40 minutes.
A prolonged period of pressure eventually brought a reward when centre JJ Taljard scored after a neat scissors move, before Herbst sealed the win, and put the cherry on top of his own top-class performance, with his second try with eight minutes remaining. By this stage Herbst had moved from scrumhalf to wing, but the former Matie was still always up with play.
Kotze converted both second-half tries, and there were whoops of delight from the visitors after the final whistle as they moved into third place on the First Division log.
It was a credit to Border that, despite all the mayhem generally happening five metres from their tryline in the second half, they only conceded two tries. But they needed more possession to have any chance of actually winning the match. While they were denied the spoils, Myburgh kicked a late penalty to ensure the Bulldogs did at least get a losing bonus point for their efforts.
The Eagles could even afford to have a player yellow-carded in the second half - fullback Delroy Rhoode spent 10 minutes in the bin after a ham-fisted effort to pull off an intercept saw him only succeed in slapping the ball down from an offsides position.
Border Bulldogs - Tries: Chumani Booi, Francois Laatz (2). Conversions: Johan Myburgh (3). Penalties: Myburgh (2).
SWD Eagles - Tries: JD Herbst (2), Shaun Raubenheimer, Theuns Kotze, JJ Taljard. Conversions: Kotze (4).