The Border Bulldogs grabbed a sensational last-gasp 22-20 Absa Currie Cup First Division victory over the Down Touch Griffons when their fullback, Karlo Aspeling, jinxed his way through a phalanx of defenders to touch down under the posts and convert his own try during injury time.
In a bottom of the log game the home team thus recorded their first win of the competition this season.
The halftime score was 17-15 in the Griffons’ favour.
The game produced very little constructive rugby with play decidedly scrappy at times with few backline movements.
For the first few minutes of the game the teams faced each other like boxers feeling out their opponent, and Border right wing Andrew van Wyk made some ground with a good run down the right side.
Quite against the run of play after about 10 minutes the Griffons opened the scoring when their captain and eighthman, Nicky Steyn, barged through a line-out and with some poor tackling from Border scored about 15 metres to the left of the Border posts. Flyhalf Louis Strydom had no problem in converting.
Border retaliated almost immediately when Aspeling put over a penalty close to the touchline after a scrum infringement.
There followed some excellent defensive work from the Bulldogs who managed to keep out the visitors, even taking a hook against the head after the Griffons were awarded a five-metre scrum.
Border then took the initiative with two excellent tries. The first took place on the left wing when scrumhalf Shannon Rick dived over, but Aspeling was unable to convert.
Five minutes later a break by fullback Aspeling drove Border close to the Griffons line and then Van Wyk broke through some half-hearted tackles and dotted down alongside the post. Aspeling converted.
Just before halftime, all the good work Border had constructed was undone in a matter of moments. The Griffons were awarded a penalty dead in front of the posts and Strydom made no mistake, and then a wild pass along a full Border line movement to the left wing was intercepted by the Griffons fullback Tertius Maarman and he had no trouble cruising to a try under the posts which was converted by Strydom.
Both teams came out all cylinders firing for the second half but the defences of both teams held fast.
Strydom missed a long-range penalty after six minutes for a hands-in infringement by Border - the referee allowing advantage which was not forthcoming. Then Aspeling missed a penalty for Border from 40 metres out.
The play for the next 20 minutes was bland and boring to say the least, with passes being dropped in the heavy wind blowing down the centre of the field, and with a number of passes going forward.
Then, with about 20 minute left on the clock, the Border backline got moving after yet another dropped pass by the Griffons, and they managed to drive the ball to within a metre of the Griffons’ line, but were unable to penetrate.
Border left wing Chrislyn van Schalkwyk had a good game on attack and came close to scoring late in the game when he was laid low by a hard tackle on the left touchline some 30 metres out.
The Griffons’ only score during the half came about hallway through the half when Strydom put over his second penalty, an easy kick from the 22-metre line.
Border Bulldogs: Tries: Shannon Rick; Andrew van Wyk, Karlo Aspeling. Conversions: Aspeling (2). Penalties: Aspeling (1).
Down Touch Griffons: Tries: Eighthman Nicky Steyn; fullback Tertius Maarman. Conversions: Flyhalf Louis Strydom (2). Penalties: Strydom (2).