The Valke, whose last senior men's title was when they won the Vodacom Cup 17 years ago, and SWD Eagles advanced to the knockout rounds after finishing first and second in the league standings, and winning their respective semi-finals by convincing margins. Despite the stakes, both teams persisted with high-tempo attacking philosophies in a decider staged in sun-soaked conditions at the Barnard Stadium.

The tone for a fast-paced fixture was set after Musa Tshabalala crossed the tryline after just nine seconds. The Eagles failed to control the kickoff, and the Valke centre swooped to land the first blow of the contest.

The visitors struggled to live with the physicality and tempo of their opponents. They took an early scoring opportunity through wing Rosco Syster, and they added a second try through Stephan Leonard (hooker) in the 21st minute.

Easton Arendse scored one of the Valke's six tries in the final.

Easton Arendse scored one of the Valke's six tries in the final.

As the half progressed, however, the Valke started to pull away. Scrumhalf Luciano Elias rounded off a brilliant passage of interplay between forwards and backs, while wing Valentino Wellman used his power and footwork to add a third try for the hosts before the break.

Fortune controlled proceedings from the flyhalf position, and was particularly impressive from the kicking tee. The No 10 slotted six of his seven attempts at goal in the first half, with a late penalty goal handing the Valke a commanding 31-14 lead as the teams headed to the sheds.

Replacement lock Mihali Stamper made an immediate impact when he took a short pass, broke the line, and raced 30-odd metres to score the Valke's fourth try. before Thabo Ntunja (prop) thundered over the line in the 52nd minute to extend his team’s lead.

Repeated infringements in the red zone earned centre Clive Kruger a yellow card at a crucial juncture of the contest. Somehow, the Eagles rallied to score another try through their maul, with Leonard grabbing his second of the game.

Luciano Elias goes over for the hosts.

Luciano Elias goes over for the hosts.

The Valke kept on coming, though, and wing Easton Arendse’s try in the 65th minute brought up the hosts’ half-century of points.

The Eagles conceded their second card in the 72nd minute. Replacement flanker Sesona Macala was shown a red after a particularly reckless tackle attempt, leaving his side to complete the final with 14 men.

Fortune stepped up to slot the penalty - his 10th successful kick at goal from 12 attempts as he racked up a personal tally of 25 points. The Eagles scored in injury time, but it wasn't enough as the East Randers started celebrating their first silverware in a few years.

The Valke will travel to Wellington next week to tackle the Boland Kavailiers in the Currie Cup First Division final.


Valke 55 (31) – Tries: Musa Tshabalala, Luciano Elias, Valentino Wellman, Mihlali Stamper, Thabo Ntunja, Easton Arendse. Conversions: Keagan Fortune (5). Penalty goals: Fortune (5).

SWD Eagles 38 (14) – Tries: Rosco Syster (2), Stephan Leonard (2), Janneman Stander, Mpho Ntsane. Conversions: Marlo Weich (3), Syster.