27-26 winners on the day, Durban High School (DHS) put poor form and off the field unhappiness behind them as they produced an inspired team effort to beat visitors Westville for a third time in four seasons. Quite remarkably this was also the third time in that same period that just one point separated the winners from the losers.
During their recent tour to the Grey High School Festival in Port Elizabeth, the DHS team did not look in sync in any facet of the game and there were even question-marks surrounding their heart when the going got tough as they fell off regulation tackles. Given that context, their 100% committed performance in this inter-schools derby was a massive step up and showed Horsefly character aplenty, particularly in the manner in which they fought back to haul in a 11-point deficit after the halftime break.
The match also marked the home debut of School’s new head coach Ronnie Uys, a man not short of passion himself.
Van Heerden’s Field played its part. In spite of the heavy rain during the week, its good drainage meant that the surface provided underfoot conditions for attractive rugby.
Entertaining package matches like this are normally the combined effort of two teams and in most respects Westville did not disappoint. The Griffons are not short on talent across their team and their playbook versatility, particularly in the first half had DHS on the backfoot at times. When Westville review this match there will be a good deal of evidence to suggest they should have left the Berea as winners.
In summary two areas of concern came to the fore for Westville.
One was leadership aspect. Although it’s not advocated in the spirit of schoolboy rugby, youngsters have picked up enough from senior rugby to know that at the very limit of the boundary defining the relationship between a captain and the referee, in an effort to benefit his team, the former employs gamesmanship. He sees a situation or even an opportunity and works at it to convince the main official to interpret the next similar scenario in a more favourable manner to his team. It’s very much based on the premise of getting and keeping the ref on your side. Well in this match, Westville if anything succeeded in achieving the exact opposite. Their captain lost a grip on his emotions due to the man in the middle not noticing certain transgressions that occurred off the ball and ended up disrespecting the referee to the extent that he eventually got sinbinned for chirping.
The second aspect has proven to be a bit of moral debating point at all levels. It surrounds who should actually make the decision at a kickable penalty – the captain or the coach? At pro level TV commentators are picking up on instances where a captain no matter how senior he is, is being overruled by his head coach. Although many schoolboy rugby teams do not have access to the same high end technology as the pros, a lot of them are capable of relaying a message from coach to captain in under 10-seconds. Anyway be that as it may, after DHS had battled back to gain the lead, Westville opted not to take very kickable shots at goal and instead backed their credible set-piece and placed faith in the firepower they possessed to go for 5-pointers. These gambles did not pay off and the final score margin completes that story.
Match points summary:
|14||0-7||After an absorbing first 20% of the match, Westville with the backing of some outstanding sideline support from their schoolmates and playing with freedom and confidence, really express themselves during this opening try. It is built around the sort of high quality phase play that eventually leaves even the most organised defences stretched and vulnerable. The try-scorer, tighthead prop Pumi Xego goes one-on-one with a defender close to the line and manages to stay on his feet in the contact long enough to get in those vital extra steps before launching himself forward and over with a dive. Fullback Grove Akker converts the try.|
|15||3-7||From the kickoff, a DHS player takes out the Westville ball-catcher in the air. The referee rightly goes to his pocket, brandishing a yellow much to the relief of the DHS support. The ref however then reverses the initial penalty due to chirping and so in spite of being a man down, DHS flyhalf Shakur da Douce is able to register his team’s first points.|
|18||3-14||The action at the restarts continues. Westville lock Cameron Best comes up a sublime well-timed big play. He collects the kickoff on the run and gets his side well into opposition territory. Xego is again on hand to inflict more pain on the defence but this time there is a bit of ballplayer showmanship added to the brawn and finally its lock Kgopotso Matlena who body checks a defender out of his way before crossing the white chalk. Akker adds two more points.|
|22||10-14||Overall lineout work turned out to be a poor area of the match. Apart from inaccuracies, the ref even found a few opportunities to penalise both teams for advancing within 10m before the lineout was over. One DHS lineout which didn’t go to the intended target is gathered towards the back by prop Marcel Nel who paces into a hole in front of him and carries all the way into the redzone. Quickball means that Westville have literally no time to reorganise and eighthman Brian Dosemba powers over near the upright.|
|35||10-21||On the attack, DHS attempts to execute a backline move against 14-man Ville (due to a yellow) but the strong pass to a moving centre is just slightly off in direction and ricochets off the midfielder’s body. It descents perfectly into the grasp of Westville outside centre Mlu Kalishwayo, who then just manages to avoid being reeled in by DHS fullback Darren Booysen who almost capped a good half with as a heroic try saver. Flyhalf Braden van Wyk lands a very good conversion.|
|36||17-21||DHS centre Macneil Jenner put in a shift and a half on defence during this match and looked visibly like the most disappointed of all his team after they had conceded the intercept try just before the break. Well he could hardly believe his luck when he was gifted one of the simplest intercepts on the Westville 22. With no one in front of him he cantered over near the vicinity of where he’s shown his disappointment minutes earlier. La Douce showing signs of a return to his top form of 2018, converted.|
|53||17-21||No try here but certainly one for the coaches to examine on the video afterwards. Westville turnover ball and lively wing Larry Nkonki is soon sprinting after a kicked ahead ball. It’s a congested line he follows but in spite of the bumps he keeps his balance, outstrips the DHS defence and appears to get hands down onto the ball in the in-goal area. Neither the referee nor the AR’s are able to keep up with play and in the end the benefit of the doubt if there is any goes to DHS.|
|55||22-21||DHS are enjoying front-foot ball and also seem to have shaken Westville a bit. After a build-up in which prop Kaid o’Neill added a useful contribution, the home team goes wide. With players on his outside, Jenner backs himself to take the gap. He’s stopped on the line. From recycled ball, lock Taariq Kruger barges over to put DHS ahead for the first time.|
|60||27-21||DHS inside centre Sims Ngcobo has to take a bow for this assist in this try. His line-break and mazy run towards the 22 foils the Westville defence for long enough until he receives support from his no.8 Dosemba who upon receiving the pass, immediately spins out of a tackle and gets his V8 motor revving like that of a wing. He surprisingly outpaces the cross over and scores in the left corner.|
|68||27-26||It’s now all just Westville on attack as they go in search of a winning score, forcing DHS to concede penalties. Eventually they find incentive from replacement centre Eze Onyebilanma who makes his direct strike run count. The ball is slow to come out of the ruck but Westville’s determination wins the collision thereafter as centre Mambo Mkhize forces his way over. The crucial conversion is however missed.|
|Fulltime||27-26||Play goes on through a few more stops but DHS seem to have a good handle on the territory and have possession for part of the time as well, which does not allow Westville to launch another threatening attack.|
|1||Okuhle Siyeni||1||Marcel Nel|
|2||Teague Loelly||2||Stoney Steenekamp|
|3||Pumi Xego||3||Kaid o’Neill|
|4||Cameron Best||4||Avumile Bongco|
|5||Kgopotso Matlena||5||Taariq Kruger|
|6||Josh Aigner||6||Setjhaba Mathuse|
|7||Ockie Barnard||7||Xhanti Njokweni|
|8||Gareth Beavan||8||Brian Dosemba|
|9||Abande Mthembu||9||Jaydian Cedares|
|10||Braden Van Wyk||10||Shakur La Douce|
|11||Larry Nkonki||11||Nkhlakanipho Nene|
|12||Mambo Mkhize||12||Sims Ngcobo|
|13||Mlu Khalishwayo||13||Macneil Jenner|
|14||Simelela Nkomo||14||Linda Maphisa|
|15||Grove Akker||15||Darren Booysen|