The Down Touch Griffons came from behind to record a bonus-point 24-19 (halftime 12-14) victory over the Border Bulldogs in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Saturday.
Both sides sought an early opening with some enterprising running, but the breakthrough was not forthcoming.
It took all of 20 minutes before the defences were breached when Griffons left wing Norman Nelson sped away down the left hand touch line to open their account. Johan Engelbrecht missed a difficult conversion as the hosts led 5-0 after 20 minutes.
The first half broke into life in the final 10 minutes before the break as Andre van Wyk went over for the first of his two tries thanks to some excellent work by the Border backline created some space for the left wing to dot down. Dale Sabbagh converted to give the visitors a two point lead.
But four minutes later the home side struck back with a try from Inus Kritzinger. The livewire scrumhalf darted away from the base of a ruck to regain the lead for the Griffons, as Engelbrecht added the two points.
The hosts looked to be heading into the break with a five point lead but the Bulldogs crossed the white line after the hooter sounded through Chumani Booi. The winger beat a few defenders to go over in the right-hand corner with Sabbagh adding the extras.
The second half belonged to the home side as they scored two tries to one through Japie Nel and Tertius Daniller. Nel broke through the Border defence wonderfully to score close to the posts 12 minutes after the restart. Engelbrecht was on target with boot to re-establish a five point lead.
The hosts extended their lead to 10 points thanks to some strong forward work as the No 8 went over close to the touchline. Daniller controlled the ball well as he barged his way over. Engelbrecht was unable to convert the try with just seven minutes remaining on the stadium clock.
The Bulldogs did not give up and Van Wyk crossed the line for his second try of the match two minutes from time. Karlo Aspeling missed the conversion, leaving the visitors five points adrift and despite some energetic play the visitors could not find the winner.
The victory for the hosts opened up a four-point lead over the Bulldogs on the log, as the men from East London secured a bonus point for losing by less than seven points. The Griffons are now 11 points adrift of a playoff position with just three rounds remaining.
Griffons - Tries: Norman Nelson, Inus Kritzinger, Japie Nel, Tertius Daniller; Conversions: Johan Engelbrecht (2).
Bulldogs - Tries: Andrew van Wyk (2), Chumani Booi ; Conversions: Dale Sabbagh (2).