The newly-promoted Leopards suffered an 18-26 defeat at the hands of the Boland Cavaliers in their first match back in the Currie Cup Premier Division, at an overcast Boland Stadium in Wellington on Friday.
Rugby 365 reports that Chaka Willemse’s side appeared to be struggling when they went into the break 8-23 down, but they put up a good fight in the second half, keeping the home side pinned back in their own half for most of the period.
It was the visiting side who enjoyed early territorial advantage, which lead to an early scoring chance after Boland’s Dewey Swartbooi was penalised, and subsequently sin-binned, for a high tackle on Deon van Rensburg.
Leopards’ flyhalf Clayton Durand, top scorer in the first division last season with 176 points from 12 games, had the opportunity to put the first points on the board in the 2009 Absa Currie Cup.
However, from out near the left-hand touch-line, he was off target, pulling his seventh-minute kick slightly to the left.
Seven minutes later a mistake by Cavaliers wing Luvo Sogidashe resulted in a scrum for the Leopards, which saw scrumhalf Michael Bondesio breaking down the blindside for a try in the corner. Durand again failed to bisect the poles: 5-0 Leopards.
The home side had their first points on the boards three minutes later when Elgar Watts slotted a penalty.
Both flyhalves then missed penalties, before Watts put Boland ahead when he was successful with a penalty kick in the 26th minute.
The Potchefstroom side came back strongly and relentless pressure in the right hand corner saw them earning a succession of penalties, which finally resulted in Durand taking the three points with a simple effort right in front of the posts, giving the visitors an 8-6 lead in the 30th minute.
Boland, however, had always looked the more dangerous side with the ball in hand, and they came storming back in the final 10 minutes of the half with a 33rd minute penalty (which saw Os van der Walt yellow-carded for a late tackle), by fullback Justin Peach, followed up by two converted tries.
The first came in the 36th minute and was scored by right wing Deon Scholtz, who rounded off a slick move that saw the ball quickly worked through the backline.
The second try came a minute before the break – scrumhalf Marnus Hugo dived over near the posts after a great combination between Watts and centre Dewey Swartbooi, giving Deon Davids’ side a 23-8 half-time lead.
Boland’s lead was extended seven minutes into the second half when Justin Peach was successful with a 47-metre penalty attempt.
Leopards reduced the deficit in the 58th minute when they enjoyed a period of sustained possession before the ball was released to wing Shuaib Samaai, who had enough gas to beat his man and dot down in the corner. The conversion was missed by Colin Lloyd, leaving the score at 26-13 in the favour of the Cavaliers.
Buoyed by the try, the visiting side spent the following 10 minutes camped out in their opponents’ half, but some dogged defence from the Cavaliers meant there was no change to add to the scoreboard.
After a brief respite for Boland, Leopards again came storming back, keeping the Cavaliers pegged back in their 22. Boland looked like they were going to hold out, but with two minutes to go, Samaai finally breached the defence to cross over for his second try. The conversion from the corner by Lloyd was unsuccessful. Final score: 26-18.
Tries: Scholtz, Hugo
Cons: Peach 2
Pens: Peach 4
Tries: Samaai 2, Bondesio
Yellow cards: Os van der Walt (Leopards, 33 – foul play, late tackle)Tweet