The South-Western Districts Eagles ended a disappointing season by going down 31-47 (half-time 17-20) to the Border Bulldogs in their Vodacom Cup match in Queenstown on Saturday.
The Bulldogs went down early to a superb individual try by right wing Clinton Wagman, and conceded two more tries in the first half as they trailed 13-17 deep into injury time.
Border flyhalf Ntabeni Dukisa was on-song with the boot, however, and his two first-half penalties kept the home team in touch before fullback Logan Basson took advantage of an overlap on the left wing to score.
The Eagles relied on their rolling maul to score two tries through flank Shaun Raubenheimer and lock Grant le Roux, but the Bulldogs inched their noses just in front in first-half injury time when scrumhalf Ntando Kebe rounded off a slick move from broken play, Border’s handling being one of their greatest strengths as they ended their campaign on a high.
The Bulldogs took their confidence-booster into the second half and their third try came by way of a penalty try after the Eagles kept spoiling the ball at the ruck.
Dukisa once again kicked the conversion and then added a 48th-minute penalty to put Border 30-17 ahead, but the Eagles cut the gap to 30-24 when centre Cornelius Rautenbach cut through after a tap-penalty, fullback Deroy Rhoode converting.
The Bulldogs were quick to return to Eagles’ territory, however, with loosehead prop Armand Fourie dotting down after a series of forward drives. Dukisa converted and added a penalty and the Bulldogs were almost home and dry with a 40-24 lead going into the final 10 minutes.
Eagles left wing Baldwin McBean and Border replacement scrumhalf Lesley Deen-Ruiters exchanged tries to end the scoring.
Border were able to enjoy their first win of the season, after some close misses, in their final game and no one would have been more delighted than eighthman Lubabalo Mzwakali, who celebrated his 50th game with a brilliant performance.
Border Bulldogs – Tries:LoganBasson, Ntando Kebe, penalty try, Armand Fourie, Lesley Deen-Ruiters. Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (5). Penalties: Dukisa (4).
SWD Eagles – Tries: Clinton Wagman, Shaun Raubenheimer, Grant le Roux, Cornelius Rautenbach, Baldwin McBean. Conversions: Deroy Rhoode (3).