Bulls too good for Bulldogs
Puitting in a big-hearted display, the Border Bulldogs finally went down 34-8 (halftime 24-0) to the Blue Bulls in their Vodacom Cup match at East London's Buffalo City Stadium on Friday night.
Playing against the wind in the opening 40 minutes, the Bulldogs were down 10-0 in no time from a penalty and conversion by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff and a bullocking try to lock Mthunzi ‘Fudge’ Mabeta.
Although the home side were eager to run the ball they were forced to spend much of the first half in their own territory and under pressure, while a yellow card to eighthman Luvuyo Magwaxaza in the 16th minute didn't help their cause.
During this period a further converted try went to Bulls left wing Sampie Mastriet, who darted in untouched from 30 metres and it was a case of tackle, tackle, tackle for the Bulldogs, who were all too often troubled by the Bulls' rolling maul and big ball-carriers.
However, a thrilling run by right wing Garth van Rayner deep into the half showed the Bulldogs remained dangerous.
Further jinking runs by centre Chumani Booi and left wing Byron McGuigan again nearly had the visitors in trouble and it was clear with five minute of the half remaining the Bulldogs were gaining in confidence.
However, an easy try from a ruck by loosehead prop Corné Fourie, converted by Boshoff, pushed the score out to 24-0 by halftime.
The Bulldogs started the second half well and a long-range penalty by McGuigan soon had his teammates fired up, none more so than flank Nomani Tonga.
To their credit the Bulldogs fought like terriers and for long periods kept the Blue Bulls at bay with tiger-like play at the rucks and in midfield.
In fact it was only in the 60th minute that the Blue Bulls crossed the tryline again through prop Fourie, securing them a bonus point. But they then lost replacement flank CJ Stander, who was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle with 15 minutes left.
The Bulldogs answered in the best possible way when hooker Kwezi Mkhafu crashed over for an unconverted try.
That the Bulldogs limited the Blue Bulls to just two second-half tries and took the game to them for long periods said it all about their determination and spirit.
In fact, the Blue Bulls' last try, a second to Mastriet, came right on fulltime.
Bulldogs 8 – Try: Kwezi Mkhafu. Penalty: Byron McGuigan.
Blue Bulls 34 – Tries: Mthunzi Mabeta, Sampie Mastriet (2), Corné Fourie (2). Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (3). Penalty: Boshoff.