Cape Town - The Boland Cavaliers outplayed the visiting SWD Eagles 34-26 (half-time 22-12) at Boland Park in Worcester on Friday in their Vodacom Cup encounter.
The game started at a frenetic pace and Cavaliers centre Wilneth Engelbrecht went over in the corner after less than a minute into the game. The decision was referred by referee Quinton Immelman and the try was then awarded by television match official Deon van Blommenstein. Fullback Eric Zana nailed the touchline conversion and the hosts lead 7-0 after the opening few minutes.
It was veteran winger Alshaun Bock who finished off a sweeping Eagles attacking move and fullback Elric van Vuuren drew the two teams level at 7-7 with his conversion.
A deft grubber kick was then dived on by the Bock’s fellow winger, Hentzwill Pedro, and the score gave the Eagles the lead as the opening quarter drew to an end. Van Vuuren was unable to kick the difficult conversion and the score remained at 12-7 to the Eagles.
A loose pass was picked up by Boland thereafter and after some exceptional interplay it was winger Harlon Klaasen who went over for the try. The teams were again level at 12-12 after 23 minutes of action. Centre Edwin Sass had a big hand in the try and it was his turn to get his name on the scorers-sheet thereafter.
The try by Sass saw the Cavaliers showcase both speed and skill as a clean break by scrumhalf Jovelian de Koker was rounded off by Sass after his teammates kept the ball alive exceptionally well in the lead up.
One of the SWD Eagles was isolated in the contact and unable to release the ball, with Zana kicking the subsequent penalty to give his team a 22-12 lead at halftime.
A cross field kick by Boland flyhalf Christian Rust was superbly plucked out of the air by Engelbrecht and he dived over for the bonus-point try after 44 minutes of play. Zana couldn’t pull the touchline conversion in over the crossbar and the score was 27-12 in favour of the Cavaliers.
After a raft of substitutions by coaches Bevon Fortuin and Anton Leonard it was the big replacement prop Nemo Roelofse who forced his way over the try line. Van Vuuren added the extras and the gap was down to eight points at 27-19.
Sass grabbed a double on 62 minutes after the ball was lost by the Eagles in a tackle. The ball was collected and after a storming run by one of the Cavaliers forwards the ball went left and Sass dived over in the corner. The conversion by Zana made it 34-19 and the Eagles were staring down the barrel with the clock winding down.
There was a long break in play as Cavaliers flanker Chaney Willemse was stretchered of the field with what looks like a serious injury.
Bock scored try number 33 in his Vodacom Cup career and the try also gave his team a bonus point as it was their fourth for the afternoon. The replacement Gerrit Smith converted the try and at 34-26 the Eagles had to score quickly to keep the faint hope of a comeback alive.
This hope was nearly completely extinguished when Zana hoofed a penalty attempt 45 metres to see it drop just short.
The final passage of play was an Eagles scrum on the Cavaliers try line and they were desperate to collect the losing bonus point. Despite numerous attempts the Eagles were unable to breach the Cavaliers' line and they left Worcester with only a single bonus point.
Next up the Cavalier welcome the GWK Griquas to Velddrif and the battle at the Smuts Ground will be vital for both teams. The Eagles have a tough assignment as they host the Cell C Sharks XV at Outeniqua Park in George.
Tries: Wilneth Engelbrecht (2), Harlon Klaasen, Edwin Sass (2)
Conversions: Eric Zana (3)
Tries: Alshaun Bock (2), Hentzwill Pedro, Nemo Roelofse
Conversions: Elric van Vuuren (2), Gerrit Smith