The Border Bulldogs closed their season on the highest possible note when they upset the in-form log leading Down Touch Griffons in their Currie Cup First Division clash at the HT Pelatona Stadium in Welkom on Saturday afternoon.
It meant the Bulldogs ended the season sixth on the log, five points off the semifinal places and 12 points behind the table topping Griffons.
However, it was a far better finish that initially looked impossible after a poor start to the campaign had them second from bottom of the log without a win in their opening three games, of which two were played at home.
“It was a great moment winning that game. It was a really good performance and we deserved to win,” said Bulldogs coach David Dobela.
“If you look at where we have come from, we lost a lot of players to the Kings and we had to rebuild, and it took us a while to find our feet, but once we got going we improved dramatically.”
In the match the Bulldogs showed tremendous character to emerge as 41-33 victors, having trailed 21-12 at half time.
Tries from wing Siyasanga Ncanywa and flank Onke Dubase, along with one conversion from Bangihlombe Kobese saw the Bulldogs still in the match despite trailing by nine points at the break.
The team then turned it on in the second half, running in four further tries through Dubase, Kobese, lock Athenkosi Khethani and centre Lundi Ralarala, while Kobese slotted three more conversions and a penalty.
“The commitment and the resilience of the guys, especially to come back after being behind at half-time was wonderful to see,” said Dobela.
“We said to ourselves that if we could be the only team to beat the Griffons it would be special and we have gone and done it now.”
Despite not qualifying for the semifinals it was a good effort from the Bulldogs, with them only convincingly outplayed in two games – a heavy home defeat against the Boland Kavaliers and an away loss against the South Western District Eagles.
Two home losses, against the Valke and Leopards, could have gone either way, while the Bulldogs picked wins over the EP Kings, Welwitschias and the win this past weekend over the Griffons, with those three wins coming in their final four of the season.
The Currie Cup first division semis will now be battled out this coming weekend, while the Bulldogs will be enjoying some much deserved time off before they return for pre-season training ahead of next year’s new season.