Border (12) 37

Falcons (15) 32

The Border Bulldogs earned a place in the Vodacom Shield semifinals with a hard-earned 37-32 win over the Falcons at East London's Absa Stadium on Friday night.

The lead changed hands several times and it was only late in the match that the Bulldogs took control.

In fact, the Falcons outscored the home side four tries to three and were by far the more inventive side in the first half, holding a 15-12 lead at the changeover.

Unfortunately the Falcons suffered three first-half setbacks, with injuries to eighthman Jaco Webb (broken wrist), tighthead prop Wikus Botha (leg) and centre Ettiene Botha (neck).

A brilliant solo try by Bulldog left wing Ian Fihlani two minutes after the re-start put the Bulldogs into the lead at 19-15.

The Falcons, however, edge ahead again through a try by hooker Skipper Badenhorst.

When Fihlani scored his second try with 15 minutes remaining, the home side stepped up a gear and ran in a third try - courtesy of replacement scrumhalf Josh Fowles.

The Falcons scored a consolation try through lock Francois Uys in injury time, but it was too little too late.

Bulldog flyhalf Solly Goosen was responsible for 22 points, and it was often only his boot that kept the Bulldogs on the heels of the determined Falcons, whose forwards dominated well in the opening 40 minutes.

For the Bulldogs, Fihlani was brilliant while eighthman Pietie Loots again got through mountains of work. - Sapa