Elephants walk all over hapless Bulldogs, but coach still hopeful
It was another chastening weekend for the Border Bulldogs as they went down 52-3 against the Eastern Province Elephants in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge match in Port Elizabeth.
It was the Bulldogs’ second big defeat in a row, after they were hammered 52-0 by the Boland Cavaliers in East London the weekend before, and sees them lose all the momentum built up from starting the competition with a win over the Zimbabwe Academy and a good showing in their loss against Western Province.
“The commitment of the guys has fallen recently. We showed great commitment in the first two games against Zimbabwe and Western Province, but since then I have not seen the same commitment against Boland and EP,” explained Bulldogs coach Tiger Mangweni.
“In the match our first-time tackles and a lack of possession were big problems, while our workrate was down from previous games.
“We were not playing in the right areas and EP exposed us there and it was just another disappointing performance,. The guys didn't pitch at all.”
The Elephants raced into a 24-0 lead in the match after just 18 minutes, before the Bulldogs scored their only points in the match, a penalty to flyhalf Aphiwe Stemele in the 23rd minute.
At halftime, the home side led 31-3 and that became 45-3 just six minutes into the second half as they scored two quick converted tries.
The Bulldogs then finally found some fight and defended solidly, only allowing in one more try over the final 34 minutes.
“I think in the second half we defended much better, especially after those two early tries in the half. Billy [Dutton, Bulldogs captain] got the guys together and they lifted their game,” said Mangweni.
“I believe in this team, I believe I can get their mindset right and they have what it takes to do better. It is just about going back to the drawing board and deciding where to go from here.”
The Bulldogs have two injury concerns from the match, after scrumhalf Qhama Masiza and lock Ayabonga Nomboyo went off injured.
That could however be offset by the return of experienced scrumhalf Bangihlombe Kobese.
“Qhama hurt his ankle and Ayabonga injured his shoulder, so those are injury concerns for us and we are not sure how long they will be out for until they are assessed later this week,” said Mangweni. “Bangi has been practising since last week but we didn't want to push him, so we aimed to try and see him return this weekend in some capacity, but we will only make a decision on his availability on Tuesday or Wednesday.”
The Bulldogs next travel to Durban where they face a stiff test against the Sharks this weekend.