Despite icy cold conditions and a strong cross wind, both teams played with a positive mindset which resulted in a match that went down to the very last play.

The Leopards held a 14-6 lead at the break, having outscored their Welkom opponents by two tries to nil, and the hosts scored their third try early in the second half before the Griffons came storming back.

The visitors scored two tries in the last 30 minutes, but just could not get the final score, as the Leopards showed good character and defence late in the match.

The Leopards preferred a ball-in-hand approach early on and it gave them good momentum. An early attempt for a maul try was thwarted by the Griffons and they did well to withstand some early attacks from the hosts.

After Leopards flyhalf Danrich Visagie pushed a long range penalty wide early on, Griffons kicker, Jaywinn Juries, also missed with one from way out. That penalty came from good play by the Welkom side who started to find some territorial gains and the home side were caught offside.

The Griffons threatened with a number of surges towards the Leopards line, but they too could not break down their opponents. After yet another such sortie to the line finished short, the Leopards went offside and Juries slotted the first penalty goal of the match 20 minutes in.

That seemed to light the fire under the home side as they struck back immediately. A strong maul and a release to the backline at exactly the right time saw Leopards fullback Duren Hoffman joine the line. The former Boland Landbou pupil swerved in and out to finish a well-worked try. Visagie converted, with the flyhalf's kick giving his side a 7-3 lead after 25 minutes.

With fire in their belly, the Leopards attacked from all angles. Visagie missed a dropp goal, but that was little respite for the Griffons who then crucially lost a man to the sin bin for slapping down a pass. The men from North West kept attacking and scrumhalf Riaan Genis sniped over. Visagie converted for a 14-3 lead after 33 minutes of play.

Juries kicked an important penalty five minutes from the half-time hooter to cut the deficit to seven at the break.

The second half saw more of the Leopards' dominance, even if only territory wise. They slowly grind the Griffons down via some good forward play and when offered the opportunity after 55 minutes, opted for an attacking lineout. Hooker Robey Leibrandt was at the back of that drive and dropped over the line for the third try of the final.

At 19-6, the Leopards seemed to be on their way, but they conceded a try straight from the restart. A great kick chase saw the Leopards' clearance kick charged down and Griffons wing Granwill Matthys picked up the bouncing ball to score.

To make matters worse for the home side, No 8 Andries Fouche was yellow carded for a high shot and the momentum swung towards the Griffons again.

They kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout, hooker Kwezi Mkhafu scored. Juries kicked the conversion and suddenly there was one point between the sides, with 15 minutes to play.

Fouche redeemed himself five minutes from time, with a breakaway run that took play to five meters from the Griffons' tryline. That took the game away from the danger zone for the home side and provided them with the opportunity to play out the remaining minutes on the right side of the field.

But the Griffons had one more throw of the dice they won a scrum penalty and used the opportunity to work their way back into the Leopards' half. They made merry and progressed to the 22m line of the home side, but the ball was lost forward in the tackle and the Leopards could celebrate a first title for coach Andre Pretorius.


Leopards 19 (14) - Tries: Duren Hoffman, Riaan Genis, Robey Leibrandt. Conversions: Danrich Visagie (2).

Griffons 18 (6) - Tries: Granwill Matthys, Kwezi Mkhafu. Conversion: Jaywinn Juries. Penalty goals: Juries (2).