The SWD Eagles overturned a 12-point deficit to beat the Valke 36-27 and clinch the Currie Cup First Division trophy in George on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Eagles started off well, dropped their guard and fell off the pace midway through the first half, but then found their second wind to blow the Valke off the park with a one-sided second-half display.
No 8 Wayne Wilschut was a human wrecking ball for the Eagles, scoring a hat-trick of tries. Despite being on the losing side, Valke wing Etienne Taljaard deserves some credit for his two-try performance, which took his overall tally to 13 for the campaign.
The hosts came into this clash with the best defensive record, having conceded only 131 points. By contrast, the visiting Valke were the best attacking side in the competition, having scored a whopping 364 points (including 54 tries) in seven matches.
Adding intrigue to this battle of styles, was the fact that SWD had edged the Valke 36-34 in Kempton Park earlier this season.
As it turned out, there was to be no revenge for the Valke, as SWD finished on the right side of the result yet again to claim their first title since 2007.
The match itself was played at a high speed, with both teams showing a total disregard for structured play. Within the opening quarter, the Eagles led 15-7 thanks to a brace by Wilschut and a penalty and conversion by flyhalf Divan Nel.
But a 10-minute burst saw the Valke move past that score in swift and entertaining fashion. In short order, they shredded SWD’s defence to score 20 unanswered points and silence the partisan George crowd.
Trailing 27-15 at the break, a transformed SWD side came out in the second half. They dominated at lineout time and destroyed the visitors in the scrum to swing momentum back in their favour. The Valke had no answer for the continuous and ruthless onslaught on their line.
And the end result was three more tries for the Eagles. First Wilschut powered over to complete his hat-trick then Marlo Weich and Wynand Grassmann went over to seal the win for their side.
Nel’s contribution also shouldn’t go unnoticed. He succeeded with four conversions and two penalties, all of which went a long way in securing the title for SWD.
— The Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) October 19, 2018
SWD Eagles – Tries: Wayne Wilschut (3), Marlo Weich, Wynand Grassmann. Conversions: Divan Nel (4). Penalty: Nel.
Valke – Tries: Anrich Richter, Etienne Taljaard (2). Conversions: Richter (3). Penalties: Richer (2).
SWD Eagles – 15 Leighton Eksteen, 14 Marlo Weich, 13 Tyler Fisher, 12 Vuyo Mbotho, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Johannes Steyn, 8 Wayne Wilschut, 7 Nicolaas Immelman, 6 Hendrik Stander, 5 Wynand Grassmann, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Mzuvukile Sofisa, 2 Jacobus Vermaak, 1 Luxolo Koza.
Subs: 16 Le Roux Baard, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Dewald Dekker, 19 Johannes Janse van Rensburg, 20 Brendon Esterhuizen, 21 Kirsten Heyns, 22 Adri Jacobs.
Valke – 15 Andries Truter, 14 Don Mlondobozi, 13 Lundi Ralarala, 12 Grant Janke, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Errol Jaggers, 9 Anrich Richter, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Wihan Jacobs, 6 Sikhumbuzo Mabuza, 5 Jacques Alberts, 4 Shane Kirkwood (c), 3 Heinrich Roelfse, 2 Marco Klopper, 1 Jacobus Strauss.
Subs: 16 Jan-Frederik Enslin, 17 Andries Schutte, 18 Andrew Volschenk, 19 Martin Sithole, 20 Johan Pretorius, 21 Andrew van Wyk, 22 Coert Cronjé.