Home team DHS outscored Michaelhouse by four tries to two en route to a 27-14 victory.
The match was a bit of a patchy affair and a tale of two halves at the same time.
Much of the first quarter action seemed subdued and took place in the middle of the park. Although there were a few memorable line-breaks, nothing developed from there into a serious goal-line threat.
Then on about the 20-minute mark DHS sprung into try-scoring mode. A well-devised play from a scrum setpiece inside their own half resulted in second phase quickball being swifty distributed down the line where outside centre Macneil Jenner took advantage of the space in front of him to rake up the metres. His decision-making towards the end of the carry might have been better served if he looked to offload to the support on his outside. He however opted to feed to his inside, which allowed Michaelhouse’s scrambling defence to spoil the rhythm but they did so illegally. Wasting no time, DHS attempted to reignite the tempo from a quick tap well inside the redzone. House’s defence had hastily reorganised though and what followed was good sequence of DHS offensive continuity versus House’s defensive resolve. It ended when DHS tighthead prop Mthokozisi Gumede powered over from the fringe of a ruck for what is best described as a team try. Confident flyhalf Shakur la Douce nailed the kick from an acute angle to make it 7-0.
Six minutes later the DHS lead doubled to 14-0. One of Michaelhouse’s eyesores – their poor functioning lineout – was to blame. A misdirected throw-in was a gift for DHS hooker Stoney Steenkamp who was standing unmarked near the tail of the lineout formation. It was deja vu for the DHS no.2 who had extracted maximum value from the exact same situation against Northwood a week before. Just like in that previous match, Steenkamp’s quickness off the mark along with his peripheral vision impressed. There was no rush of blood to the head. His sublime try-assisting pass to Jaydian Cedares, is best remembered for how its trajectory enabled the nippy little scrummy to beat the cover tackle. From there Cedares wheels got him over in the right corner. La Douce’s brilliant conversion was even better than the previous one.
Shortly before halftime, Michaelhouse’s misery was compounded when another error resulted in another turnover and another try to DHS. The lead-up to this try was a distinguishing feature between the two teams during the half. Whereas Michaelhouse’s backline looked slow and cumbersome and had little penetration, DHS’s backs revelled in the opportunity to sync and inject pace into attacks. When DHS won this particular turnover they did exactly that. Hands and speed got the ball into an advanced position inside the opposition 22. From there scrumhalf Cedares saw his chance and sniped through a gap next to the breakdown to score his second try.
At 19-0 after 35-minutes, things were really looking bad for House. One wondered how they were going to score points. Whatever was said at halftime, it worked! In the second the crowd got to witness 15 boys from Balgowan who were not in their best form but who had enough courage, conviction and love for their jersey to band together and turn what was looking like a runway victory into a tight contest.
Michaelhouse gained the ascendency during the second half. Their forwards came into the game more and their backs who had looked frustrated with their own form, showed character as they tried their best to grind something out of situations when they were called on to play a part on attack. Play was mainly concentrated in DHS territory. Shortly after being denied a certain try due to a forward pass call, House eventually broke their egg midway through the half. It was a really good try. DHS had failed to find the comfort of touch while exiting. House left wing Thamsanqa Zakwe fielded the highball alongside the touchline, evaded the chasers and set off on a promising run up the line. He made a good pass to outside centre Dane Fisher who in turn manoeuvred well and by staying on his feet longer than he should have, further disrupted the defence, before linking with well-built flank James Moodie who finished. Flyhalf Liam England added the extras to make it 19-7.
Three minutes later it was game on! The score was 19-14. DHS had inexplicably disappeared into their shell while Michaelhouse were doing all the playing and earning dividends. House’s second try had its starting point at a scrum, from where a backline move resulted in strong running centre Dane Fisher collecting a delayed pass and breaching the D-line. He found unutilised wing Michael Gomes who added to the rare decisive play of the visitors. Later recycled front-foot ball found its way out to centre Chris Hardie who had acres of room ahead of him. He hesitated at first as he seemed to doubt his own ability to attack the space with conviction. His uncertainty seemed to also cause the defence to stand off him and in the end when he’d made up his mind to have a full go, he generated enough momentum to crash over. England’s kick was also a good one.
It was a wake-up call for DHS. On around the 28th minute the home team carried the ball with purpose a few times to get into House half, where they won a penalty for a ruck infringement and slotted the kick to get more than a score ahead at 22-14.
A couple of minutes later Michaelhouse’s indecisiveness amongst the backs came back to haunt them one last time. A pass to No-mans land presented the chance for DHS centre Lwandile Menze to fly-hack the ball some 25-metres ahead into the opposition in-goal area. After the kick, he was tugged on the back of the jersey and the ref awarded a penalty on the 5-metre line. DHS are trained to respond quickly to those situations to catch their opponents off-guard and that’s exactly what flyhalf la Douce achieved as he rushed to collect the ball, ran to the mark, quick tapped and fed it to equally alert centre Macneil Jenner, who dived over in the left corner.
Although Michaelhouse pressed hard to score a third try, they were denied just metres short of the objective, allowing DHS to close out the match at 27-14.
It wasn’t their best work but for “School” this third win against Michaelhouse during this decade means that it represents their best record against KZN’s “Top-6” schools in the last 10-years. It’s further evidence of how far DHS have come to turn things around but also of how victories like this one have to be cherished.
Michaelhouse are currently nought wins from six games for the season so far. The good news is that they now have an extended run of six home matches to try and change that unwanted stat. The bad news is that things won’t get any easier especially since perceived “weaker” opponents like St Charles, Northwood, Clifton and even St John’s have produced above their usual standard 1st XV’s this season and are all targeting Michaelhouse as big name school that they believe they can beat in 2018.
|1||Marcel Nel||1||Andrew Holt|
|2||Stoney Stenekamp||2||Mpho Mthethwa|
|3||Mthokozisi Gumede||3||Liam Friend|
|4||Avumile Bongco||4||Dan Dillon|
|5||Setchaba Mathuse||5||Luke Taylor|
|6||Asande Mnguni||6||James Moodie|
|7||Adrian Dirks||7||Torin Mecklenborg|
|8||Celimpilo Gumede||8||Christian Opperman|
|9||Jaydian Cedares||9||Lance Reynolds|
|10||Shakur La Douce||10||Liam England|
|11||Lwazi Moletshe||11||Thamsanqa Zakwe|
|12||Lwandile Menze||12||Chris Hardie|
|13||Macneil Jenner||13||Dane Fisher|
|14||Malusi Ntuli||14||Michael Gomes|
|15||Darren Booysen||15||Michael Brownlee|