A powerful first-half performance set the Border women’s team on their way to a thumping 78-7 win over Free State in their inter-provincial A division match at a buzzing BCM Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The match was the last of the pool stages for the two teams and saw Border secure top spot on the log with the result, as well as seal a home final, where they will take on Western Province who won their play-off against Eastern Province.
In the Free State game, Border burst into life after a slow start to the first half to run in nine tries and take a massive 59-0 lead into the half-time break, before a much-improved Free State effort in the second half meant Border could only add three more tries while Free State scored a consolation of their own.
“We are very happy with the result. The girls played according to our structure, even though in the second half they got a bit complacent, but it was a solid performance overall,” said Border coach Sabelo Kolanisi.
“We wanted to keep the ball tight, utilise the forwards and then give our backline the freedom to attack and we managed to do that.
“We were looking to end the group stage on a high and take the momentum into the final.
“It was our plan to host the final and defend our title, so we have done the first part and now just need to defend our title.”
The first half kicked off with both teams make a slew of handling errors and mistakes that contributed to a scrappy opening 10 minutes, with Border however dominating territory and possession.
Finally the pressure told in the 12th minute as prop Asithandile Ntoyanto crashed over in the left-hand corner for an unconverted score, sparking Border into life as they scored a further two tries through Nwabisa Ngxatu and flank Lusanda Dumke, both converted by flyhalf Siviwe Basweni, to storm into a 19-0 lead after 18 minutes.
Dumke then forced her way over for her second try in the 23rd minute after a tap and go penalty from close to the line, while right wing Lutho Sajini showed some impressive stepping and a clean pair of heels to run in a try from the kick off, with Basweni’s conversions putting them 33-0 up.
A yellow card was awarded to Free State flyhalf Merriam Ntlhafu in the 33rd minute after multiple breakdown infringements. at the breakdown.
This added to the visitors woes as the hosts used the advantage to the full, running in four more tries through eighthman Nomaphelo Mayongo, inside centre Unathi Mali, lock Zandiswa Xozwa and a second to Mayongo, with Basweni converting three to send Border into the break with a monster lead.
With a 100-point score looking a definite possibility, Border fell off the boil a bit in the second half, while a much better defensive effort from Free State also contributed to holding off the rampant hosts.
However, Dumke still managed to get her hat-trick, while her flank partner Yanga Ndabeni and replacement back Siphosethu Mgaju also dotted down, with Gaju slotting two conversions, to go 78-0 up after 68 minutes.
A desperate final 10 minutes from the visitors then saw them put in wave after wave of attacks in the Border 22m, for which they were finally rewarded in the 79th minute with a consolation try to replacement back Goitseoone Nche with Ntlhafu adding the extras.
Border will now face Western Province, who whipped EP 51-12 in their final pool match, in the final at the BCM Stadium next week Saturday.
“We agreed before the season that the main target was to extend our record and make it five titles in a row,” said Kolanisi.
“We would love to see a full stadium for the final and hope the fans come out in their numbers to support us,” she added.