Elric van Vuuren kicked 19 points as the SWD Eagles defeated the Leopards 29-21 (halftime 13-11) in the Absa Currie Cup First Division encounter at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday.
The Eagles outside centre kicked five penalties and two conversions, which included a penalty 11 minutes from time to deny the visitors a losing bonus point.
The only separation at the turn was the missed conversion by Leopards captain and flyhalf, Andre Pretorius. The former Springbok flyhalf kicked three penalties and one conversion.
The victory was all the more savouring for the home side as they suffered two yellow cards in the second half with flank Shaun Raubenheimer and fullback Daniel Roberts spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.
It was the Leopards that made a strong start to the game with an unconverted try to No 8 Morne Hanekom with just 11 minutes on the clock. The two goal-kickers then traded two penalties apiece
Eagles flyhalf Ozard Martin du Toit crossed the chalk-line four minutes before the break. Van Vuuren converted to hand the hosts a two-point lead at the break.
The visitors must have thought that this was to be their night when Raubenheimer was sent to the sin bin just two minutes after the restart.
The Leopards capitalised as Hanekom went over for his second try of the game two minutes later, which Pretorius converted to hand the visitors a five-point lead.
But, just before the return of their hard-working flanker, The Eagles broke free as left-wing Alshaun Bock raced away for the home side’s second try. Van Vuuren converted to restore their two-point advantage.
Pretorius slotted his third penalty attempt to give his side a very slender one-point margin while entering the final quarter of the match with one man to the good as the hosts suffered another meltdown as Roberts received his yellow card.
But despite being a man down, it was the Eagles who benefitted on the scoreboard with Van Vuuren slotting two more penalties as the Leopards were penalised for being overly anxious to regain the lead.
With just five points separating the sides heading in to the final ten minutes, Van Vuuren slotted his seventh attempt at goal to extend the lead past the all-important seven-point gap as the Eagles held on to deny the Leopards the bonus point.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Ozard Martin du Toit, Alshaun Bock; Conversions: Elric van Vuuren (2); Penalties: Van Vuuren (5).
Leopards – Tries: Morne Hanekom (2); Conversions: Andre Pretorius; Penalties: Pretorius (3).