The Platinum Leopards had to fight off a strong second-half performance from the Border Bulldogs before securing a narrow 43-40 (half-time 31-14) win in their Absa Currie First Division match at the BCM Stadium in East London on Friday.
Both teams ran in six tries but the Leopards must have thought that they had the match wrapped up by half-time as they took a 31-14 lead into the break against a Border team which has failed to win a match this season.
But the hosts turned it on in the second half with a second try to inside centre Niell Jacobs, a try to lock Gareth Krause, a try to left wing Joe Seerane and a penalty try to come within spitting distance over the Leopards who moved into third position on the log after the victory.
Left wing Allister Kettledas ran in a brace of tries for the visitors while flyhalf Andre Pretorius kicked five conversions and a penalty for a personal haul of 13 points.
The Leopards made a fast start to the match with a try in the second minute to centre Justin St Jerry and two minutes later his centre partner Hennie Skorbinski glided over.
Border finally hit back in the 17th minute when wing Chumani Booi dotted down for a converted try before Kettledas dotted down for the first time in the 21st minute.
The Bulldogs did narrow the gap Jacobs’ second try but on the hooter Leopards fullback Malan van der Merwe scored a wonderful break-out try after the Bulldogs had been hard on attack on the Leopards’ tryline.
Border’s fightback started in the fourth minute of the second half when they were awarded a penalty try before the Leopards re-re-established their dominance with two tries in nine minute to lock Brendan Snyman and Kettledas.
But Border nabbed three tries in 11 minutes through Jacobs, Krause and Seerane to narrow the gap to just three points with five minutes left in the match but it proved to be a bridge too far for the men from East London,
BORDER BULLDOGS – Tries: Chumani Booi, Niell Jacobs (2), Penalty Try, Gareth Krause, Joe Seerane; Conversions: Reinhardt Gerber (5).
PLATINUM LEOPARDS – Tries: Allister Kettledas (2), Hennie Skorbinski, Justin St Jerry, Malan van der Merwe, Brendan Snyman; Conversions: Andre Pretorius (5); Penalty: Pretorius.