It was a very nice day, good weather and a unique concept which was good because without reducing the competitiveness of the matches in any way, it put it nicely into context that these are just preseason warm-ups to aid the players and coaches with preparations for the real thing which kicks off over the next two weeks.
The Sharks obviously also got to show some prospective players what they have to offer facility wise. The only possible let down was that the occasion was not well marketed. The Sharks are struggling to put bums in seats and here they had four schools who on any given Saturday this season will attracted a larger combined live audience that the Sharks will to Kings Park for a Super Rugby round robin game. They should have used it too their advantage.
Westville 5-5 Glenwood
I thought Glenwood were fantastic in this match. They fielded a 2nd team and the players played out of their skins. They were hungry and created a very even contest against Westville. Westville scored a lovely try. Flank Dylan Jung had a decisive carry and fed it to big Okkie Barnard who was wearing the no.8 jersey. This gave them serious frontfoot ball and flyhalf Kyle Forsyth came up with a class chip to the corner which wing Grove Akker did not waste.
From the kickoff Westville failed to control and Glenwood pounced. After the ball was hacked ahead a looseforward won the race to regather it and dot it down to level matters.
College 0-0 DHS
Surprisingly this game failed to produce a score.
DHS really proved to be a surprise package at this event. No doubt they are a weaker team than last season and these shortened games are never a good measure of things to come in the regular season but what the SRD did reveal is that they still have a few strike players. So if everybody else does there job by putting in the hard yards, these go-to players are capable of making a difference on the scoreboard. The top rated Horsefly Celimpilo Gumede did not play because he was with the SA u18 7’s team, so that tells something about is mobility and skillset without revealing that he is 1.90m tall. DHS has a decent frontrow. Celimpilo’s brother Mthokozisi Gumede is a useful allround player and showed it with a good carry during this game. Marcel Nel has gotten really big now and Donovan Adams is small but a livewire hooker with a lot of heart. Asande Mnguni definitely had his moments last season. He can be lethal as ball runner and a turnover specialist when he puts his mind to it. In the backs flyhalf Shakur La Douce has a big boot and KZN CW centre Lwandile Menze who was so destructive as a big metres gaining 12 last year is back but playing 13 now. Also there are useful backs in versatile Lwazi Moletshe and determined Malusi Ntuli.
The College pack could be developed into a major asset this season if they get the self-belief system to the levels it needs to be at. Props Ethan Hodgson and Sphekahle Dube are a big part of the reason why impressive no.8 Nthuthuko Mchunu has been so effective off the back of the scrums. The College captain has been ticking all the right boxes and has arguable been the best individual player in KZN preseason. If College want to do well this season all they need is a few others to close the gap on Mchunu and they will be a nightmare to deal with. As it is College do look a bit short on x-factor players this year. The College backline still needs a lot of work on attack and the coaching staff are doing to have to work extra hard on this aspect of play to come up with designs that make them more effective.
Westville 10-7 College
College didn’t bring a big squad with them to Kings Park and had to stay on the field for a second successive game so it was interesting to see if this continuity helped or hurt them and how the fewer subs would impact on their day. They subbed who they could and struck first blood. Fullback Matthew Willemse has scored an absolute gem of an individual effort try at the Vories Night Series against Westville a week earlier and continued to haunt them when his chip and chase down the middle had the Ville fullback in a spot of bother and forced a turnover via a scrum. A free kick and quick tap followed and the ball spun wide finally resulted in no.18 scoring a try which Keegan Collyer then turned into 7 with a good kick. Willemse is the kind of player College could build attacking plays around but he really needs to find some consistency in his game first.
Westville fullback Nqubeko Mkwanazi looks like he is going to pick up where he left off last season, as a create something out of nothing attacking player. He was eye-catching during SRD and played a big part in Ville’s first try thanks to a good run. The tryscorer was scrumhalf Stanley Giani. The easy kick was missed. After that Mkwanazi combined with wing Akker. Akker stabbed the ball ahead and dived on in-goal to complete that effort and push Ville into a 10-7 lead which they almost grew as other wing no.11 came close.
Then at the death College were denied what would have been a wonderful try. Mchunu has one of his now trademark carries. After he was stopped in the 22 the ball was recycled and what looked like a brilliant skip pass by a front row player out to the left and into the breadbasket of unmarked wing Siphesihle Kekana was harshly judged to be forward by the AR.
Glenwood 3-3 DHS
DHS showed lots of commitment to hold off Glenwood’s strongest available team. Glenwood seems to bring out the best in DHS these days. Glenwood looked like they were about to get going on several plays but never really got out of the low gears for some reason. They got a bit frustrated as well which showed. The most interesting of the positional setups was that Joe Jonas played fullback and Siyanda Cele had a very quiet day on the wing. Rynhardt Jonker and la Douce traded penalties.
DHS 14-0 Westville
A quick tap and go penalty taken by DHS flank Mnguni caught Westville unawares. He then drew and passed to scrumhalf Jaydian Cedares, who turned out to be a bit of a pocket-rocket. He jetshoed his way to the tryline from about 40m out.
The little scrummy wearing 21 also had a part in School’s second try. His box kick was well placed and forced pressure near the touchline in Ville territory. DHS then worked the ball well and aided by some soft hands passes no.11 (Moletshe) got in for the try. Both tries were converted by La Douce.
Westville were not outplayed by any means but just couldn’t come up with any plays to breach the DHS defence.
Sadly Mkwanazi picked up an injury during this match. Hopefully it’s not serious.
Glenwood 7-0 College
The College pack started to get the hang of things during this match and with more effort like that they stand a good chance to dominate others in KZN. From a College lineout gone wrong Glenwood sprung into action and gave a taste of the firepower they are capable of producing. It looked like centre Jason Conradie who was did very well and a useful pass by a wing to flying powerfully built centre Conan le Fleur who raced in. Jaden Hendrikse the scrumhalf succeeded with the difficult conversion. Hendrikse also impressed with the hang-time on his big base kicks.