A late penalty from flyhalf Burger Hugo handed the Leopards a come from behind 38-35 (halftime 14-28) victory in the Supersport Rugby Challenge at the Pelatona Projects Stadium in Welkom on Saturday.
The Leopards, who secured their first victory of the tournament, had turned around a 14-point halftime deficit to lead by seven points heading into the final 10 minutes but a try five minutes from full time by flyhalf Juan Kotze, levelled matters before Hugo stepped up and landed a penalty with one minute of the clock to give the visitors something to smile about this season.
The Leopards had led at halftime in a few matches this season but have been unable to hold on for victory but this time it was different.
The home side drew first blood when centre Duan Pretorius cruised over for the opening try with Kotze converting to hand the Griffons a seven-nil lead. But the visitors hit back soon after with their first try of the afternoon when tighthead prop Robert Hunt bashed his way over for a converted effort.
The sides traded tries again with the Griffons’ flank Mosoeu Maruping scoring a converted try and Hugo waltzing through for his five-pointer, which he converted himself. But the hosts scored twice through hooker Anrich Alberts and then on the stroke of halftime through wing Ezrick Alexander, both converted by Kotze to give the Griffons a 14-point lead at the break.
But the second staza proved a different story as the Leopards scored three converted tries in the space of 14 minutes to turn their deficit into a seven point advantage. Flank Gideon van der Merwe first crashed over before wing Eugene Hare scored a brace with Hugo converting all three.
Drama came in the 75th minute when Kotze worked some magic to score close to the poles and convert to level the match at 35-all but an error from the home team allowed Hugo to kick a penalty and win the match for a side that had lost seven matches on the trot before today.
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Duan Pretorius, Mosoeu Maruping, Anrich Alberts, Ezrick Alexander, Juan Kotze; Conversions: Kotze (5).
Leopards – Tries: Eugene Hare (2), Robert Hunt, Burger Hugo, Gideon van der Merwe; Conversions: Hugo (5); Penalties: Hugo.