The Leopards scored 15 tries in beating the Border Bulldogs 103-15 (halftime 54-3) in a lost cause at Profert Olen Park on Saturday.
The Leopards knew they had to win with a bonus point to have any hope of catching the Griquas in the race to the Currie Cup Premier Division, and they did what they had to do with clinical efficiency in a free-flowing rout.
They kicked off with hope in their heart and a determination to push all the way. But it was all in vain as, at about the time they put boot to ball, the Griquas scored their fourth try against SWD Eagles and all but sealed their promotion after just half an hour's play in George.
The bitter news probably filtered through during the match, but never did the Leopards let up, playing as they have throughout the season by putting the ball out wide for the dynamic backline. Right wing Sylvian Mahuza notched a hat-trick of tries before halftime, among five others. He went on to touch down four times, as did left-wing flyer Luther Obi. The two wings ended top try-scorers of the qualifying series with 10 apiece.
Obi started the rout in the fourth minute and the bonus point was secured by two tries from Mahuza and one by centre George Tossel within 21 minutes.
The hapless Border team, who ended the series without a win, made early substitutions, captain and hooker Blake Kyde and No 10 Oliver Zono departing in the 27th minute.
But nothing they did could stop the flow, and they were eight tries down by halftime. They regained some pride when they scored twice in the second-half. But the Leopards added seven tries after the break, only one coming from the forwards.
Leopards captain Andre Pretorius collected a personal tally of 28 points through 14 conversions, missing just one effort at goal. The Leopards will look back at the one-point loss they sustained at Griquas in June. Throughout the season, they gathered six four-try bonus points in five wins with their enterprising play.
Leopards (103) – Tries: Luther Obi (4), Sylvian Mahuza (4), George Tossel (2), Hoffman Maritz, Dillon Smit, Morne Hanekom, Francois Robertse, Kobus de Kock. Conversions: André Pretorius (14).
Border (15) – Tries: Michael Makase, Bangi Kobese. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty: Masixole Banda