Flying Falcons hold on against Leopards
CRAVEN WEEK REPORT: The opening match of the 2019 Craven Week got the week off to a flying start as the Falcons manage to edge the Leopards 43-24 in a 10-try thriller.
It was most certainly a game of two halves as the Falcons came out firing in the first 35 minutes to take a comfortable lead, only for the Leopards to hit back in the second half, as the Falcons were forced to hang on to claim the victory.
The Falcons came out firing from the first whistle and immediately put the Leopards on the back foot. The Leopards did well on defence for the first few minutes but the dam wall broke in the eighth minute when prolific flank Juandré Odendaal was put through on the left touchline to dot down in the corner to hand the Falcons a 5-0 lead.
Flyhalf Potgieter missed the conversion but made up for it in the 17th minute when he slotted his first penalty of the game.
The Falcons had their tails up and extended their lead in the 24th minute when hooker Barnard du Plessis benefited from a powerful driving maul after an attacking line-out on the Leopards’ five-metre line. Potgieter popped over the easy conversion to stretch their lead to 15-0.
Odendaal continued to dominate with ball-in-hand and went on a blistering run from the halfway line through the heart of the Leopards’ defence. He drew the final defender and unselfishly put No.8 Franco Enslin away to canter over for an easy score. Potgieter’s second successful conversion took his side’s lead to 22-0 after 28 minutes.
There was no let-up form the Falcons as they scored their fourth try of the match in the 33rd minute when wing Tylon Kotze showed his speed to break through a half gap down the right wing. The build-up was particularly impressive, despite its simplicity as each member of the backline had gotten their hands on the ball. Potgieter’s successful conversion stretched the lead to 29-0 at the break.
The Leopards must have received a stern talking to at the interval as they looked a different team in the second half. It took them five minutes to get themselves on the board and put their stamp on the match. Centre Lance Meintjies got the scoring going in the 40th minute when, after numerous phases and line breaks, he dotted down under the uprights. He picked himself up and popped over the extras.
Fullback Ruben Oosthuizen then grabbed his side’s second try of the match as the Leopards kept the Falcons’ defence on their toes. Meintjies’ second conversion ensured the deficit was cut to 14-29 after 49 minutes.
The Falcons were reduced to 14 men in the 51st minute when Kotze was shown yellow after a high tackle and the Leopards made the extra man count with a further two tries. First, Goodwin Nchocho dotted down from the back of a rolling maul before Oosthuizen scored his second of the game in the 57th minute to see his side trail 24-29.
The Falcons hit back almost immediately though as Enslin’s individual brilliance saw his chase down his own grubber kick to score his side’s fifth of the game. Potgieter added the extras to increase the Falcons’ lead to 36-24 after 59 minutes.
Both sides had further opportunities to score in the remaining minutes but neither managed to break through until the 72nd minute when Enslin bagged his third try of the match as he benefited from a Leopards error inside their 22. Potgieter popped over the extras to ensure the Falcons’ Craven Week got off to the perfect start.
Tries: Odendaal, du Plessis, Enslin 3, Kotze
Cons: Potgieter 5
Tries: Meintjies, Oosthuizen 2, Nchocho
Cons: Meintjies 2
Yellow card: Tylon Kotze (Falcons, 51st min – dangerous tackle)
Falcons: 1 Ntokozo Hlope, 2 Barnard du Plessis, 3 Kabous Bezuidenhoudt, 4 Ofentse Malawa (captain), 5 Christiaan Visser, 6 Thabang Malone, 7 Juandré Odendaal, 8 Franco Enslin, 9 Jason Gregory, 10 Kyle Potgieter, 11 Tylon Kotze, 12 Franco Wagener, 13 Excellence Enwerem, 14 Frederick Malgas, 15 Geran Morris, 16 K Pepler, 17 S Maseko, 18 M Ngundue, 19 Nyiko Nkanyani, 20 Hope Ngoy, 21 H Flooks, 22 Abrahan Masou, 23 Lucas Mdluli.
Leopards: 1 Maobi Khosa, 2 Dewald Theron, 3 De Wet de Villiers, 4 André Rossouw (captain), 5 Owen Bestbier, 6 Junior Thale, 7 Casper Claasse, 8 Goodwin Nchocho, 9 Jacques Stander, 10 Isrome Phatudi, 11 Xhokile Manalisi, 12 Lance Meintjies, 13 Bhine Gomolemo, 14 Botshelo Kuyadi, 15 Ruben Oosthuizen, 16 TK Keetse, 17 Stefan van Graan, 18 Beat Diole, 19 Themba Makamu, 20 Louis Viviers, 21 Refentse Maobi, 22 Wimpie Venter, 23 Ashley Madube.
Referee: Christopher Allison
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Anelda Coetzee
TMO: Paul Larter (Scotland)