Daily Dispatch

Border set to down the Eagles

- ROSS ROCHE rossr@dispatch.co.za

A cracking encounter should be in store as the Border Bulldogs take on the South Western District (SWD) Eagles in a crunch SuperSport Rugby Challenge match at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday night.

The Bulldogs and Eagles find themselves at the wrong end of the South pool log, in seventh and sixth place respective­ly, with just the Zimbabwe Academy, who are yet to win a game, below them.

The Zimbabwe side, who are in the SuperSport Challenge for the first time, are also the only team that the Bulldogs and Eagles have beaten in five outings each so far and the Eagles only sit above the Bulldogs due to having picked up more bonus points.

This is thus a big opportunit­y for both sides to try and pick up what would be a morale-boosting win.

“This game is a big opportunit­y for us, it is going to be a difficult game, especially with SWD on their home-ground,” said Bulldogs coach Tiger Mangweni.

“But I believe we can take them on. We have studied them well and if we can just execute right on the field of play, I believe we can upset them.”

If the Bulldogs are to have any chance of winning, they will have to shore up a very leaky defence that has seen them concede 186 points in their last three matches.

Those were a 52-0 home loss against the Boland Cavaliers, a 52-3 drubbing at the Eastern Province Elephants and then an 82-24 hammering from the Sharks in Durban just this past weekend.

The team did however return to scoring form against the Sharks, after going tryless the previous two matches, and will be aiming to keep that scoring run going against the Eagles.

“Our defence has been very disappoint­ing. The guys have struggled with their one on one tackles and that has really let us down, but we have been working hard to fix this and hopefully it will come right against SWD,” said Mangweni.

“We have also suffered from a lack of concentrat­ion at various points in our past matches, so I have told the guys I need them to be fully focused for 80 minutes this time around.”

The Eagles were competitiv­e in their last outing, a 43-28 defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers and they will be eager to break their two-match losing streak having lost against the Free State XV after just edging Zimbabwe three matches ago.

The Bulldogs, however, will have a chance to pick up a second win of the competitio­n, something that didn’t seem possible when it was confirmed they would play in the Challenge and they were brought together just three days before their first match.

A win against the Eagles and a good showing in their final match against Free State would arguably make this year’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge a decent one for the Bulldogs.

“We really want to win this one. It would go a long way to helping erase the memories of the past few matches,” said Mangweni.

The action gets under way at 7pm on Friday night.

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