The Leopards' loosehead prop, BG Uys,
scored a hat-trick of tries on the night but poor kicking from Adriaan
Engelbrecht, who has the second highest points tally this season, led to
the home side's downfall, despite out-scoring the visitors by four
tries to two.
Dale Sabbagh had a decent night with the boot as
the Border fullback slotted two conversions and four penalties from nine
attempts, missing three penalties. But Engelbrecht, who has been steady
all season, succumbed to the pressure as the centre missed his three
attempts at goal and the kicking duties were handed to Warren Gilbert,
as the flyhalf converted Uys's final try.
The Leopards, who were
five points adrift of the second-placed Eastern Province Kings before
kick-off, needed to win this match if they harboured any hopes of
challenging for a home semifinal. The hosts had won all three previous
encounters between the two sides, and were expected to win again today.
But the visitors started like a house on fire when they won back
possession from the kick-off and loosehead prop Kwezi Mkhafu rumbled
over for the opening try after just two minutes. Sabbagh added the two
points to give the men from East London the perfect start to an
The Leopards struck back through their
fullback, Danie Dames, who finished off a lovely move to score in the
corner, but Engelbrecht was unable to slot the conversion, leaving the
hosts trailing by two points after 10 minutes.
his first penalty after 16 minutes but failed to add another three
points just four minutes later. But that missed penalty was forgotten as
Brian Shabangu, on for the injured Bulldogs captain, Gareth Krouse,
scored the visitors' second try after 25 minutes. Sabbagh added to the
hosts' agony by slotting the conversion and extending the lead to 12
Uys then scored the first of his three tries 10 minutes
before the break, but again Engelbrecht failed to find the target.
Sabbagh finished off the first half by kicking his second penalty and
sending the sides into the changeroom, 10 points apart.
Leopards' indiscipline went unpunished at the start of the second stanza
as Sabbagh missed two penalty attempts within four minutes of the
restart. The hosts must have thought that their fortunes were changing
with those missed attempts as Uys bundled his way over for his second
Englebrecht missed his third conversion attempt which left
the Leopards trailing by five points 10 minutes into the second half.
Sabbagh added another penalty before Uys crossed the chalk for his
third try. This time the kicking tee was handed to Gilbert and the
flyhalf made no mistake, landing the conversion to bring the hosts to
within one point midway through the second half.
The home side
were unable to make any headway against the visitors, despite the
Bulldogs' open-side flanker, Rynard van Wyk, being sin-binned after 59
The Leopards' constant indiscipline then boiled over as
Morne Hanekom was shown a yellow card, and the flanker spent the final
eight minutes of the match watching from the side-lines. Sabbagh slotted
the penalty to make the score 26-22 in favour of the visitors.
The Leopards picked up two points for scoring four tries and losing by
less than seven points, which moves them onto 39 points, just three
points ahead of the SWD Eagles.
The men from Potch face the
Eagles next weekend in what is now a battle to avoid the table-topping
Pumas in the semifinal, as the fourth placed team travel to Nelspruit.
Tries: BG Uys (3), Danie Dames
Conversion: Warren Gilbert
Tries: Kwezi Mkhafu, Brian Shabangu
Conversions: Dale Sabbagh (2)
Penalties: Sabbagh (4)