The Down Touch Griffons secured a bonus-point 34-23 (halftime 17-16) Provincial tournament victory over the Border Bulldogs at a sunny Pelatona Project Stadium in Welkom on Saturday.
The sarugby.co.za reports that the home side put in a strong second-half performance in securing five log points which lifted them into sixth position on the qualifying log, outscoring the visitors by four tries to two. But it was the visitors who opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute with the first try of the match.
Flanker Siya Mdaka barged his way over from a good position with flyhalf Masixole Banda adding the extra points. But the Griffons hit right back with a penalty through flyhalf George Whitehead before outside centre, Duan Pretorius sliced his way through the Border defence to dot down close to the poles as the home side took the lead. Whitehead converted the try to give the hosts a three-point advantage.
Banda though levelled matters midway through the first half after some sustained pressure resulted in a penalty for the visitors. This did not deter the hosts at all as flanker Boela Venter bossed his way over the line for the home side’s second five-pointer. Whitehead did not miss a beat with the boot, slotting the conversion to extend the lead to seven points.
Border closed off the first half just a point behind their hosts as Banda slotted two more penalties shortly before the break.
The second stanza though belonged to the home side as they took command of the match with two tries through tighthead prop, Heinrich Roelofse and fullback, Selvyn Davids, to take a commanding 15-point lead heading into the final 20 minutes as Whitehead continued with his accurate kicking.
The Bulldogs did not give up and used their forwards well with No 8 Nkosikhona Nofuma diving over the line for the visitor’s second try. Banda converted to leave the men from East London just eight points down and still 19 minutes left on the stadium clock.
Whitehead’s accurate boot fell off late on in the game as the flyhalf missed two penalty attempts in trying to kill off the game but eventually made sure of the win when he slotted his second penalty three minutes from time to hand the hosts a much-needed victory.
Scorers: Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Duan Pretorius, Boela Venter, Heinrich Roelofse, Selvyn Davids; Conversions: George Whitehead (4); Penalties: Whitehead (2).
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Siya Mdaka, Nkosikhona Nofuma; Conversions: Masixole Banda (2); Penalties: Banda (3).