Martin Sithole ran in a hat-trick of tries as the Griffons saw off a second-half fightback from the Border Bulldogs to claim a 53-33 (half-time 25-12) win in their Absa Currie Cup First Division match at the BCM Stadium in East London on Friday.
Flank Sithole scored all three of his five-pointers in the second half with his second and third try helping to put away a determined Border outfit that had clawed their way back into the contest with three converted tries in the space of six minutes.
Border had been trailing 39-12 but the three tries, from flanks’ Brian Shabangu and Shane Spring and tighthead prop Marius Visser. meant that the hosts narrowed the gap to 39-33 with 22 minutes left in the contest.
But Sithole, who turned in a wonderful performance with his support play being particularly impressive, scored two late tries to deny Border their first win of the season.
Left wing Shane Hancke dotted down twice for the visitors while flyhalf Hansie Graaf enjoyed a good night with the boot as he collected 18 points courtesy of six conversions and two penalties.
The Griffons had dominated to the first-half and they deservedly opened up a 13-point half-time lead despite conceding an early try to Border centre Ruan Jacobs.
The visitors hit back thanks to a Graaf penalty and Hancke’s first try of the night before Border narrowed the gap to just one point when left wing Quinton Crocker sped through for a converted try in the 21st minute.
However, the rest of the half belonged to the Griffons thanks to tries from hooker Hannes Snyman and Hancke.
The second half began in a blaze of scoring with the two teams combining to score seven tries in the first 28 minutes of the half.
The Griffons began the stronger of the two teams and lock Joubert Horn rumbled over almost straight from the kick-off before Sithole nabbed his first try just two minutes later.
But Border had been roused from their slumber and they began their blaze of scoring in the 52nd minute when Shabangu, who had been at the heart of most of Border’s best play, stormed over for a converted try.
Visser and Spring added their names to the scoresheet in quick succession before Sithole took over with tries in the 60th and 68th minute to bury Border.
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Ruan Jacobs, Quinton Crocker, Brian Shabangu, Marius Visser, Shane Spring; Conversions: Reinhardt Gerber (4)
Griffons – Tries: Martin Sithole (3), Shane Hancke (2), Hannes Snyman, Joubert Horn; Conversions: Hansie Graaf (6); Penalties: Graaf (2)