Leopards steal late win over Border
An injury-time try from lock Roelof van Heerden sealed a late 27-21 (halftime 15-8) Vodacom Cup victory for the Leopards over the Border Bulldogs in East London on Friday night.
The Leopards led for most of the match but four minutes from the end fell behind for a second time when replacement wing Dukisa Ntabeni slotted a penalty to put the home side into a 21-20 lead.
Had the Bulldogs showed more composure they might have closed the game out but instead they conceded a penalty and from the ensuing lineout the Leopards set up a series of mauls that eventually led to Van Heerden’s winning try.
It was just reward for the Leopards, who, on balance, were the better side thanks largely to a dominant pack that had the Bulldogs under pressure all evening.
The home side though, understanding that they were second best up front, tried to open the game up at every opportunity and it led to an exciting, if error-strewn, match.
Earlier the Leopards had taken a commanding lead through tries from flyhalf Dauw Steyn and centre Walter Venter in the 25th and 34th minutes respectively. Steyn also landed a conversion and a penalty in the first half.
But the hosts finished the half strongly when flank Ben Venter smashed his way over the line to reduce the deficit to seven points at the break.
A penalty from Border wing Byron McGuigan in the 41st minute narrowed the gap. No 8 Craig Green then had the crowd on its feet when he crashed over in the 45th minute and McGuigan converted to put the hosts in the lead for the first time.
Leopards flank Danie Crous scored on the hour to put the visitors back in front, setting the stage for a frantic final quarter.
Border – Tries: Ben Venter, Craig Green. Conversion: Byron McGuigan. Penalties: McGuigan (2), Dukisa Ntabeni.
Leopards - Tries: Dauw Steyn, Walter Venter, Danie Crous, Roelof van Heerden. Conversions: Steyn (2). Penalty: Steyn.