Starting fast and defending heroically, the hosts outscored the newly-crowned Mzansi Challenge champions by five tries to three to deny them a historic double and soar to First Division glory, taking the title for the first time in 12 years after they beat Eastern Province in Wellington.

Franzel September’s side came out firing and spread the ball early, finding plenty of space and holes in the visitors’ defence in perfect conditions to race into a 15-0 lead. They were more clinical early on, bossed the breakdown, dominated at scrum time and put in some massive hits on defence.

The Valke, though, didn’t lay down and while Boland kept the scoreboard ticking, they were reduced to 14 men for reaped infringements in the dying moments of the first half, which saw the visitors score a second try to trail 28-14 at the break.   

Hufke looked to have set the tone for the second half as he did in the first when he scored his second try inside three minutes, however, the spirited Valke did most of the playing and scored another while impressive No 8 Keenan Opperman was still in the bin to make it 33-21.

The Kavaliers weathered a storm as JP Immelman’s charges came on strong, staying organised and ultra-committed on defence with captain Thurlow Marsh coming up clutch with a crucial lineout steal on his 5m line, and Hufke’s third try of the afternoon in the 69th minute wrapped up the game and the title for the hosts.

Their perfect start came courtesy of Hufke, who stepped off his left foot and broke a tackle to score after just two minutes, with flyhalf Darian Hock adding the conversion.

The rampant hosts had their second five minutes later with Opperman, who’d made a barnstorming break in the lead-up to the first try, crashing over in the right-hand corner.

Keenan Opperman goes over for one of the Kavaliers' five tries.

Keenan Opperman goes over for one of the Kavaliers' five tries.

A 50:22 by Bentley Geldenhuys, who had an excellent game in the No 9 jersey, got the Boland Kavaliers right back in the red zone where the under-fire Valke were pinged at the breakdown, which saw Hock pop over his first penalty goal to make it 15-0.

The Valke’s first real attacking opportunity came at the end of the first quarter and they converted, Musa Tshabalala touching down and Keagan Fortune landing the touchline conversion to bring them back into the game.

The hosts responded well, stifling the men in red and stretching their lead with a brace of penalty goals by Hock, the first the reward of a powerful scrum and the second the result of the Valke erring as they tried to run out of their 22.

Jurick Lewis provided a bit of magic to spark the hosts’ third try, the inside centre breaking and putting a grubber through on his left boot for Geldenhuys, running a perfect scrumhalf support line, to dribble ahead and dot down for a seven-pointer.  

The Valke, though, finished the half with a crucial counterstrike, wing Easton Arendse going over for a converted try moments after Opperman was yellow-carded for not rolling away to make it 28-14.

The elusive Hufke ensured that it was the 14-man Boland Kavaliers who struck first in the second half as he swerved over for his second but the Valke hit back through tighthead Cohen Kiewit, whose converted try cut the deficit to 12.

The East Randers threw everything at the hosts, whose collective defensive display was simply superb. Hufke’s hat-trick try, somewhat against the run of play, proved to be a crushing blow and the fullback capped off a phenomenal performance with a late long-range penalty goal as the Kavaliers were crowned champions.  


Boland Kavaliers 43 (28) – Tries: Cameron Hufke (3), Keenan Opperman, Bentley Geldenhuys. Conversions: Darian Hock (3). Penalty goals: Hock (3), Hufke.  

Valke 21 (14) – Tries: Musa Tshabalala, Easton Arendse, Cohen Kiewit. Conversions: Keagan Fortune (3).