Michaelhouse beats Hilton 24-18 – match report

There were only six points in when the full-time whistle sounded on Hilton’s Gilfillan field. It brought to an end any hope of the hosts snatching a remarkable come from behind win. It would have been remarkable in the sense that the scoreline actually flattered Hilton. They were completely outplayed by the unbeaten and in-form Michaelhouse first team, who not for the first time this season dominated without putting their opponents away. The final score was 24-18 but the margin could have been far greater had it not been for the only really pleasing aspect of Hilton’s play, their dogged defence.

Right from the word go the visitors’ attacking tone was set. Michaelhouse flyhalf Bader Pretorius led the first charge, a cutback burst that breached the first line of defence with seeming ease. This trend of getting over the advantage line would continue for most of the match as House thanks to superior ball handling skills, structure, vision for space, variation, pace, support play, body position in contact and many of the other ingredients that contribute to good decisive attack just kept on coming. Their brand of rugby was exciting and possibly only let down by a few inaccurate passes here and there, penalty shots at goal being missed and a some lineouts that did not go to plan. The lineouts proved to be good restart platform for Michaelhouse though. The setpiece paved the way for the execution of backline set moves and big ground gaining rolling mauls. Two-metre tall Jordan Sinsink-Clee towered above Hilton jumpers and was faultless in this department, also making a nuisance of himself on Hilton throw-ins. No.8 Mulo Sadiki was House’s secondary lineout target but his real value-adding was in the loose, an area where his fellow forwards hooker Matt Wiseman and flank Jack Walters were fantastic as ball-carriers.

For Michaelhouse it was a classic case of the forwards doing the hard work and the backs getting all the glory due to plenty of quality ball being recycled. Apart from Pretorius at pivot, centre Nick Herbert, right wing Mikael Maingard and lively starting fullback Liam Furniss had memorable moments with ball in hand. Both Furniss and Maingard produced top drawer finishes for two of their team’s three first half tries. Centre Ryan Anderson scored the other one in the left corner after some good passes on the short side. With Pretorius’ conversions, it was 19-8 at the break.

House’s standout player was Victor Foster who was top class, first as a wing and then at fullback due to an injury reshuffle. Amongst his contributions was a first half trackback sprint to make a try saving tackle on the rated Hilton flyer Darren McGhee, an act that potentially influenced the final outcome. Foster also plucked his own sky-high up-and-under out of the hands Hilton fullback Cameron Badenhorst, thirty-metres down the pitch, providing evidence of how good his feel for the game and timing is at the moment.

Michaelhouse’s final try was super team effort which involved stretching the Hilton defence using good transfers before Foster injected a bit of brilliance to help set up replacement wing David Karam for the try.

Hilton cannot be praised enough for their gutsy effort. They absorbed a ton of pressure and the fact that they put themselves in a position to win the game speaks volumes about their character. In spite of their 18-points scored, it was not a memorable day for their attacking game. All-in-all scrums went well but the let downs included little unforced errors, kicking ball away, lineouts that remain a massive challenge to win and the lack of ball retention through rucks, a part of their game that works well when they get it going. As a result Hilton had very little good ball to work with and their one-dimensional flat backline game-plan gave what is meant to be one of their strengths virtually no hope of expressing themselves or show the sort of skills their opponents were displaying with each touch. Credit however must go to flyhalf Daniel Hirschowitz. Following a good scrum as part of one of Hilton’s best passages, Hirschowitz made the decisive line break and offload for centre Daniel Loftus’s try in the first half. Hirschowitz also kicked two penalties and converted the late penalty try awarded after sustained redzone pressure when Michaelhouse preventing a certain try from being scored by not retreating the prerequisite distance from the point of where a quick tap ‘n go penalty was taken.

With the victory Michaelhouse extends their current winning streak against their greatest rivals to three games. The overall record in this wonderful derby with it’s outstanding pre-match blazer “spell” and warcries is now: played 193, Michaelhouse 97 wins, Hilton 86 wins, 10 draws.

3 Comments

  1. It was a great game of rugby, little nail bitting at the end for MHS supporters. That Hilton side is a massive unit. Found that some of the Hilton players didn’t perform as well as they could have. The Hilton Number 8 is huge, he should have made a many more runs from the base of that massive pack, linking with a great scrumhalf and a very good flyhalf. Hilton didn’t play to their full potential. Not taking anything away from MHS, they wanted it more on the day. Lovely day spent on the Gilfillan Field. Well done both teams.

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  2. Mhs definitely deserved to win. Standouts were Foster, Walters, Pretorious, Anderson and Maingard. Could see some changes this weekend due to injuries on the weekend.

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  3. Great fair report as usual. MHS well deserved winners. An entertaining game though with the Hilton boys showing some real guts, as we would expect in such an important derby. Hilton are going to have to come up with some more lineout options if they are going to get out of this season what they should with this side.

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