The Valke held their nerve to beat the SWD Eagles 53-45 (halftime 31-7) in a free-scoring Absa Currie Cup First Division match played at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday.
There was certainly plenty for the 500 fans to shout about, both teams scoring seven tries apiece on an overcast and windy Highveld afternoon.
In picking up their third win in nine outings, the Valke move to 16 log points, one ahead of the Border Bulldogs (who beat the Griffons) and level on log points but with a poorer points difference than the fourth-placed Eagles.
Tireless eighthman Reg Muller and centre Franco Booysen both crossed for a brace as the Valke racked up a healthy 24-point lead at the break.
In such a high-scoring match, kicks were always going to prove important, and flyhalf Juan Kotze kept the scoreboard ticking along with a personal haul of 18 points, which included six conversions, a penalty as well as a smart drop goal.
Kotze’s drop, in the 56th minute, gave the home side a 46-19 lead after the Eagles had picked up points through tries by former Leopards flanker Wilhelm Koch, replacement prop Layle Delo and abrasive eighthman Braam Immelman.
Trailing by 27 points, the Eagles threw caution to the wind, picking up further tries to lock Giant Mtyanda and right winger Duwayne Smart to make it 46-33 with 10 minutes left.
But any thoughts of a comeback were thwarted when replacement Valke back Carlyle Hendricks scooted over with nine minutes remaining for Kotze to convert.
The Eagles did manage two late scores, to centre Wentsley Scott and prop Eric Coetzee, on the hooter, leaving them one point short of what would have been a deserved second bonus point.
Valke 53- Tries: Franco Booysen (2), Reg Muller (2), Zander de Kock, Jaco Snyman, Carlyle Hendricks. Conversions: Juan Kotze (6). Penalty: Kotze. Drop goal: Kotze.
Eagles 45 – Tries: Wilhelm Koch, Layle Delo, Braam Immelman, Giant Mtyanda, Duwayne Smart, Wentsley Scott, Eric Coetzee. Conversions: Elric van Vuuren (5).
The u/19’s lost 36-12 to the Leopards at the Outeniqua stadium and the u/21’s lost 26-20 to Griquas in Kimberly.