Regent Boland Kavaliers centre Elgar Watts kicked a penalty in the final minute to secure a 21-21 draw with the SWD Eagles to end the defending champions’ run of defeats in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday.
The 26-year-old Watts, a key figure in the Cavaliers’ title triumph last year, enjoyed a top-class game all round, scoring a try and missing just a single kick at goal.
Having made a disastrous start – trailing 0-12 after just four minutes – it was a tremendous coup for the Cavaliers to come away with a share of the points, especially since they had lost their previous four matches in this year’s competition.
Boland conceded a try in the first minute of the match when Eagles scrumhalf Mzo Dantyi spotted a gap in the Cavaliers defence and scooted through to score.
SWD flyhalf Theuns Kotze converted to put the home side 7-0 in front and the situation only worsened for Boland a minute later when wing Vainon Willis was yellow-carded. During the time he was in the cooler, the Eagles scored another try as the pressure told and outside centre Stokkies Hanekom dashed over the tryline.
But Watts then inspired a gutsy comeback by the visitors, kicking a penalty after a SWD ruck infringement and then breaking through the Eagles defence for the Cavaliers’ opening try midway through the first half.
The conversion was good and the SWD lead was suddenly only two points. Kotze made it 15-10 with a 23rd-minute penalty, but the Cavaliers levelled the scores with their second try, lock Lungelo Payi being the man driven over the line from close range.
Both sides tested each other defences in the opening exchanges of the second half, but it was the Cavaliers who infringed first in a kickable position, Kotze kicking his second penalty to make the score 18-15 to the Eagles.
Six minutes later, SWD were also guilty of infringing and Watts levelled the scores again with his second penalty.
Kotze then missed penalties in the 64th and 77th minutes and, even though he did kick one in the 78th minute to give the Eagles a 21-18 lead, that proved crucial as their advantage was short-lived.
The Cavaliers, meek as lambs at the start of the match, came roaring back into SWD territory and forced a penalty, Watts showing steely nerves to slot it and earn the draw.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Mzo Dyantyi, Stokkies Hanekom. Conversion: Theuns Kotze. Penalties: Kotze (3).
Regent Boland Kavaliers – Tries: Elgar Watts, Lungelo Payi. Conversion: Watts. Penalties: Watts (3).