Bulldogs crash in Currie Cup First Division
A disastrous start and missed opportunities in the second half set the Border Bulldogs on their way to a disappointing 37-22 loss against the South Western District Eagles in their Currie Cup First Division clash at the BCM Stadium on Friday night.
A three minute blitz at the start of the match had the visiting Eagles up by 14 points and the Bulldogs chasing the game were then never able to get back into it.
A really good start to the second half from the home side saw them come close to working their way back into the game, but missed opportunities allowed the Eagles to make it safe when they finally got a chance later in the half.
The game kicked off at a frenetic pace and straight away the visitors went on the attack, tearing into the Bulldogs 22m, before the ball was spread quickly to the left where experienced wing Alshaun Bock cantered around untouched to score under the poles after just 55 seconds.
Flyhalf Divan Nel popped over the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Barely two minutes later and the Eagles had their second, right wing Marlo Weich intercepted a loose pass near the half way to run away untouched and dot down next to the posts for an easy seven pointer.
The Bulldogs then responded in the ninth minute, from their first real foray into the Eagles half they earned a scrum near the 22m, attacking from the back with flyhalf Lwandile Mapuko making the initial break before finding outside centre Lonwabo Ntleki who shifted it on to fullback Sonwabiso Mqalo to run it into the right hand corner.
Scrumhalf Bangi Kobese missed the conversion as the score stayed 14-5.
Kobese was then yellow carded in the 11th minute for cynical play in his own 22m, allowing the Eagles to set up a line out and swing the ball wide to the right where Weich went over in the corner for his second try.
Nel's first miss of the match meant the score stayed 19-5 and closed out a crazy opening 15 minutes.
The match then seemed to slow down a bit, but the scoreboard kept ticking as the kickers traded penalties with Nel slotting penalties in the 25th and 33rd minutes while Kobese knocked one over in the 30th.
A yellow card to Border lock Athenkosi Khetani in the 35th minute for not rolling away at a ruck in the 22m meant they finished the half with 14 men.
On the stroke of half time the Eagles then got their bonus point as they kicked a penalty onto the 5m and from the line out utility forward Ruben Schoeman was driven powerfully over the line, with Nel's extras giving them a comfortable 32-8 lead at the break.
The second half was then a tighter affair, with the Bulldogs dominating the first 20 minutes, before the Eagles made the game safe.
Mqalo, who enjoyed a solid game, scored in the 49th minute, receiving the ball on the Eagles 22m line before slicing through the defence and stepping the last defender to score under the posts.
Mapuko added the extras to make it 32-15 and although the Bulldogs continued to dominate, spending a good amount of time in the visitors 22m, the Eagles defence and some poor decision making meant they were unable to cut the deficit any more.
This allowed the Eagles to seal the win in the 63rd minute, Schoeman crashing over for his second in the left hand corner for an unconverted score.
With the game done and the fulltime hooter gone the Bulldogs then launched one final attack, tapping and going from their own 22m and ending with outside centre Somila Jho flying down the left hand touchline before coming in under posts to score, with replacement flyhalf Aphiwe Stemele adding the extras to at least have the last say in the match.