Friday the 13th proved to be an unlucky day for the Valke in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match against the Border Bulldogs at Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Friday.
Border won the bottom-of-the-log game 35-14, scoring four tries for a bonus point while lifting themselves from the basement area, after being down 6-14 at halftime. The first half was spoilt by bad handling, erratic passing and knock-ons, particularly by the home team.
The Valke attacked from the start. After getting a kickable penalty, they opted for a lineout and the ball landed two metres from the Border tryline, but some good defence by Border kept the visitors out.
After seven minutes Valke flyhalf Juan Kotze missed a relatively easy penalty 30 metres out after some off-side play by the Border forwards and two minutes later he missed again with a most optimistic 55-metre drop-goal attempt.
Border fullback Dale Sabbagh eventually got the scoreboard moving after 15 minutes with a neat penalty 40 metres out dead in line with the posts after the Valke were penalised for not releasing the ball after a tackle, and he repeated the feat five minutes later with another easy kick after some off-side play.
After some scrappy play from both sides, the Valke struck twice at about the half-hour mark. Both tries were scored by the strong scrumhalf Anrich Richter after some poor tackling by Border. Kotze had little trouble converting both.
In the second half Border looked more composed and attacked relentlessly, camping in the Valke half for a good 10 minutes.
After 14 minutes they were rewarded when a magnificent forward drive saw tall lock Stephan Gerber crash over some 15 metres to the left of the uprights. Sabbagh missed the conversion but succeeded with a penalty three minutes later to place the teams on level terms.
Border continued their attacking play – they were a different team from their lacklustre first-half performance – and from a maul some 10 metres out Border centre Dwayne Jenner dived over the line right under the cross-bar for an easy conversion for Sabbagh for Border to take the lead at 21-14.
Suddenly the home team were playing pleasing, enterprising rugby and after a penalty given away by the Valke in their 25-metre area, Border took a lineout and it was scrumhalf Shannon Rick who scored to round off a good, attacking move for the home team. Again Sabbagh made no mistake with the conversion.
Towards the end of the match a forward pass robbed the Valke of a certain try and then in the last minute of the game Rick broke away to dive over spectacularly under the posts for Sabbagh to convert for the third time.
Border Bulldogs 35: Tries: Stephan Gerber, Dwayne Jenner, Shannon Rick (2). Conversions: Dale Sabbagh (3). Penalties: Sabbagh (3)
Valke 14: Tries: Anrich Richter (2). Conversions: Juan Kotze (2).