Griffons edge valiant SWD Eagles

eaglesThe Down Touch Griffons edged the SWD Eagles 25-21 in a pulsating and closely contested Absa Currie Cup qualifier at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium in Welkom on Saturday afternoon.

The hosts, also the Currie Cup first division champions in 2014, led 10-7 at the break.

Flyhalf Elgar Watts scored 12 points to send the visitors packing.

The Eagles, who were thumped 17-45 in their first qualifier at Outeniqua Park last week, started off at a frenetic pace. They were rewarded for their early efforts when their No 6 flank Janneman Stander crossed the whitewash in the seventh minute.

Fullback Gerrit Smith converted.

Watts reduced the deficit with a penalty in the 15th minute.

Sustained pressure saw the captain and No 8 Nicky Steyn score in the 27th minute and Watts converted.

The visitors gained the advantage early in the second half through a brace by their left wing Alshaun Bock.

He scored in the 50th and 57th minute to put the Eagles in a promising position to pull off their first win of the qualifying round. Smith converted both tries.

A yellow card, which saw their tighthead-prop Dean Hopp sent to the sin bin in the 61st minute, proved to be a pivotal moment for the SWD, who were testing the Griffons thoroughly for most of the match.

Watts, a stalwart for the Toyota Cheetahs in 2014, punished SWD for their ill-discipline in the 62nd minute with a try and sealed the conversion.

The hosts scored their third and match-winning try in the 71st minute through fullback Tertius Maarman.

Franna du Toit added a penalty just before the final hooter as the relieved hosts walked off, but they knew they were in a battle.

Post script: The team at the summit of the table at the competition of the qualifiers, which feature seven rounds, will gain automatic entry into the Absa Currie Cup division. The remaining six teams will compete in the Absa Currie Cup first division.

The qualifiers are between GWK Griquas, who participated in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division last season, the Down Touch Griffons, champions of the First Division in 2014, as well as the Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, Leopards, SWD Eagles and the Hino Valke in the competition.

SCORERS

DOWN TOUCH GRIFFONS – Tries: Nicky Steyn, Elgar Watts, Tertius Maarman. Conversions: Watts (2); Penalties; Watts, Franna du Toit.

SWD EAGLES – Tries: Janneman Stander, Alshaun Bock (2): Conversions: Gerrit Smith (3)..

SA Rugby

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