Entertaining but error-riddled is the best way to describe the encounter between home team Kearsney and Michaelhouse, which Kearsney won 27-17.
Kearsney missed a couple of shot at goal during the first quarter while Michaelhouse turned down their first realistic chance of points from the boot to instead try to set up a lineout in the corner but overcooked the punt.
The first points came via the combination work of Kearsney’s playmaker flyhalf Jacques Odendaal and impressive fullback Robbie Koenig who produced a player of the match performance. With a planned move going wrong after winning their own scrum feed, the scrappy situation was rescued by Odendaal whose delayed pass put Koenig into space 15m out from where he able produce enough strength and pace to finish on the right. That was 5-0 to Kearsney after 18min.
Koenig further underlined his value by making a textbook last line of D tackle on his opposite number Michael Gomes, a dangerous flashy attack-minded fullback who brought back memories of Ben Foden when the Englishman was in his prime. Although Gomes will best be remembered for his runs with ball in hand, he did some very good defensive work during the match as well.
The Kearsney lineout was definitely not something to be proud of. Regardless of the low success rate the home team continued to keep the faith and 7min before the break, after barely managing to control one set up from a penalty into touch inside the House 22m area, it was Odendaal who again came up with the goods, this time via a decisive run and offload to his midfielder Gcina Gumede who in turn fed the determined Koenig. Koenig seemed to back himself to go all the way but while he was being brought down short, he was able to make a one-handed offload to right wing Scott Couzens who crossed the white chalk near the right corner flag. The referee who had positioned himself in the in-goal area, couldn’t judge the flight of the final pass which looked suspiciously forward and duly awarded the try, doubling the Kearsney lead to 10-0.
House turned over ball and made a very good long tactical kick into their opponents 22 where no one was at home. Compounded errors by Kearsney after that eventually resulted in a scrum to the visitors near the tryline. Highly rated House captain playing No.8 Christian Opperman picked up at the back and the difficult looked too easy as he crashed over on the far left with 4min to go until halftime. The conversion was also missed but House had halved the deficit to finish the half 10-5 down.
Shortly after the break the Odendaal-Koenig duo struck again. Odendaal’s ability to hold up the defence and make accurate effective passes proved vital in the outcome as Koenig was able to run onto the flat ball on a line that sliced the defence and from there use his speed to get him to the tryline. Odendaal succeeded with his first kick of the afternoon and Kearsney restored a two-score lead at 17-5 up.
Midway through the second half Kearsney produced a rare display of continuity and were handsomely rewarded for it. Surprisingly it also began with a lineout in the House redzone, but this time it was a near perfect one, allowing the hosts to maul then work the ball into a new channel followed by a series of organised pick and drives with various players contributing before hardworking flank Sibu Sangweni used his power to bust through the defence on the big left blindside and score the One-Stripes fourth and final try. Odendaal converted it to push the lead to its biggest margin, a healthy 24-5.
To Michaelhouse’s credit, in spite of the lousy scheduling of this regular season opener which saw the Balgowan boys not only having very little time to prepare adequately but also having an arranged school social activity the night before, they showed tremendous spirit. Their second try had “team try” written all over it. The cohesion from start to finish was top notch and it was classic in the sense that it involved several phases of progressing play with many sets of hands touching the ball before a flowing backline run to the right saw right wing Philip Thomas cross for the 5-pointer, making it 24-10.
With 10min to play House conceded more points as Odendaal slotted an angled penalty to make it 27-10.
With 6min left on the clock, placed under pressure in their own 22, Kearsney’s handling let them down once more as did their defence on the fringe of the resultant scrum. Opperman again picked up at the base of the setpiece and showed upperbody physicality along with strength on his feet to evaded tackles that needed to be made. He dived over near the upright for his second try, making flyhalf Liam England’s conversion an easy one to get House back to within 10 points.
Kearsney missed one more shot at goal in the dying minutes and deserved their 27-17 victory in the end.
|1||Mpendulo Dlamini||1||Andrew Holt|
|2||Reid Stuart||2||Mpho Mthethwa|
|3||Oliver Carmody||3||Liam Friend|
|4||Dylan Bissett||4||Murray Finlay|
|5||Nic Baines||5||Dan Dillon|
|6||Taine Polzi||6||Torin Mecklenborg|
|7||Sibu Sangweni||7||James Moodie|
|8||Andrew Harding||8||Christian Opperman|
|9||Marco Mattioda||9||Lance Reynolds|
|10||Jacques Odendaal||10||Liam England|
|11||Mark Pretorius||11||Nick Rhodes-Jones|
|12||Phoka Mchunu||12||Thamsanqa Zakwe|
|13||Gcina Gumede||13||Michael Brownlee|
|14||Scott Couzens||14||Philip Thomas|
|15||Robbie Koenig||15||Michael Gomes|
|16||Connor Griffiths||16||Matthew Holt|
|17||Bradley Taylor||17||Brandon Jewell|
|18||Ruben Darby||18||Reinhardt Pienaar|
|19||Aidan Bossert||19||James Kiln|
|20||Matthew Hayden||20||Luke Taylor|
|21||Jordan Bamber||21||Andrew Daly|
|22||Matt Brimacombe||22||Luc Pousson|