SOUTHERN CAPE RUGBY NEWS - The highly competitive and entertaining Rugby Challenge festival took place at the D'Almeida Stadium in Mossel Bay on Sunday, when the SWD Eagles beat the Zimbabwe Academy 31-30.
The Free State Cheetahs XV outplayed the EP Elephants 49-12.
Fans were entertained with 18 tries in the two matches. Spectators were kept on the edge of their seats with the main match being in the balance until the last minutes.
Free State Cheetahs XV
According to supersport.com, Ernst Stapelberg contributed 24 points as Toyota Free State XV thumped Multisure Eastern Province Elephants 49-12 (halftime 21-12) in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge match.
Flyhalf Stapelberg was flawless from the kicking tee, landing seven conversions, while also scoring two tries in a dominant display by Free State.
They scored seven tries to two once they had cracked open an Elephants team which had started well.
It was the Elephants who drew first blood with a wonderful try that was produced by a number of phases, with fullback Michael Botha scoring off the final pass for flyhalf Oliver Zono to convert from under the posts.
Free State struck back in the 16th minute when left wing Jamba Ulengo caught the Elephants napping to score down the blindside. Stapelberg levelled matters with his conversion.
Minutes later, Stapelberg then forced his way over for a try of his own from close out and kicked the conversion.
The Elephants then produced some enterprising play with some good inter-passing that saw right wing Michael Makase dot down in the corner to make it 14-12.
That was the closest it got as Free State ran in five more unanswered tries to complete the rout through Stapelberg, Tapiwa Mafura, No 8 Jasper Wiese, centre Marlou van Niekerk and flank Marnus van der Merwe.
EP Elephants 12: Tries: Michael Botha, Michael Makase; Conversions: Oliver Zono.
Free State XV 49: Tries: Jamba Ulengo, Ernst Stapelberg (2), Tapiwa Mafura, Jasper Wiese, Marlou van Niekerk, Marnus van der Merwe; Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (7).
In the second game of the afternoon played at the same wind-swept venue, home team SWD Eagles snatched their first win of the campaign when they edged Zimbabwe Academy 31-30 (halftime 19-7).
The momentum of the game swung to and fro for 80 minutes but in the end it was the home team who hung on to out-score their international visitors by five tries to four.
SWD Eagles took an early 12-0 lead after eight minutes as scrumhalf Dillin Snel sped over for the opening try in the second minute followed by another from right wing Shario Rosenkrantz.
Zimbabwe Academy hit back with a try by James Chieza as he burst through the midfield with blistering pace and power.
But SWD restored their 12-point advantage when burly centre Marquit September bundled his way over from a quick-tap penalty and Gerhard Nortier added his second conversion.
Making good use of the strong wind at his back, Jaravaza narrowed the gap to six with two penalties soon after the restart and No 8 Aiden Burnett made it a one-point game with 17 minutes remaining.
But it was September and Lwando Mabenga who dotted down to secure the win for SWD, although George Saungweme and Cleopas Kundiona managed late consolation scores for the visitors.
SWD Eagles 31: Tries: Dillin Snel, Sahrio Rosenkrantz, Marquit September (2), Lwando Mabenga; Conversions: Gerhard Nortier (2); Divan Nel.
Zimbabwe Academy 30: Tries: James Chieza, Aiden Burnett, George Saungweme, Cleopas Kundiona; Conversions: Jeremiah Jaravaza, Kudakwashe Mudariki; Penalties: Jeremiah Jaravaza (2).
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