The Down Touch Griffons overturned a halftime deficit to secure an away 33-27 (halftime 12-21) victory over the SWD Eagles in a Currie Cup First Division encounter at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday.
The Eagles were full money for their first half lead, scoring three tries through Number 8, Christo du Plessis, scrumhalf Johan Steyn and hooker Mark Pretorius while flyhalf Hansie Graaff slotted all three conversions.
But it was the visitors who opened the scoring as early as the second minute when flyhalf George Whitehead slotted a penalty. Yet the Eagles came surging back from the kickoff and scored with Du Plessis bargin his way over the line after a mistake by the Griffons. Whitehead added another penalty to bring the visitors to within a point before scrumhalf Boela Abrahams neatly popped over a drop-goal to hand the lead back to the Griffons midway through the first half.
The Eagles regained the lead just 10 minutes later when Steyn darted over the line for a converted try and the Griffons had to endure flanker Vincent Maruping spending the final 10 minutes of the first stanza in the sin-bin. The Eagles used their one-man advantage immediately as Pretorius found space and scored the home side’s third try of the evening.
But the Griffons had the final say of the half as Whitehead landed his third penalty shortly before the break to leave the visitors trailing by nine points.
The Griffons came out firing with the return of Maruping and Abrahams darted over for the visitor’s first try of the game and with Whitehead converting, the Griffons found themselves just two points adrift. But Graaff extended the lead back out to five points with a penalty just two minutes later before fullback Reinhardt Erwee broke the line and scored a great try.
Prop Daniel van der Merwe then rumbled over the tryline for the Griffons’ third try, which Whitehad converted, to give the visitors a nine-point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. The Eagles then found themselves down to 14 men as right wing Carlo Radebe was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes. Despite being a man down, Graaff added his third penalty to leave the Eagles six points adrift with 10 minutes remaining but the Griffons held on for a vital away win.
SWD Eagles – Tries: Christo du Plessis, Johan Steyn, Mark Pretorius; Conversions: Hansie Graaff (3); Penalties: Graaff (2).
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Boela Abrahams, Daniel van der Merwe, Reinhardt Erwee; Conversions: George Whitehead (3); Penalties: Whitehead (3); Drop-goal: Abrahams.