|RUGBY DAY : Sat 19-Mar-2022|
|09h10||Hudson Park||21||14||Nico Malan|
|12h40||Grey HS||31||27||Brandwag (Uitenhage)|
A programme of riveting matches featuring the powerhouses of Eastern Cape schools is guaranteed to provide a rugby extravaganza when the Graeme Rugby Day, sponsored by Buco, takes place in Makhanda on March 19.
Tournament director Nico van der Meulen is excited about the array of talent which will be on display as Eastern Province and Border teams gear for a much-anticipated season after the two years of languishing in the Covid-19 wilderness. The Graeme Rugby Day was last held in March, 2020.
Adding spice to the occasion is that the fixtures present a series of match-ups between schools from EP and their Border counterparts, with bragging rights very much at stake.
Hosts Graeme College, as has been their approach during their hosting of this day, have not shied away from taking on the bigger schools and this year they will be seriously challenged by Border rivals Selborne.
The East London outfit have a long and proud tradition of rugby and it is said that there is never a weak Selborne team.
But Graeme, themselves, also own a rugby legacy of serious proportions and the class of 2022 will be fired up to make a point on their home ground.
This is the feature match of the day, but it will be preceded by several mouth-watering clashes in which schools who don’t normally meet each other in the regular league schedules get a chance to play different opponents.
In this way Dale College will be gearing up for a titanic clash with the tough outfit of Marlow Agricultural from Cradock.
Marlow are never subdued easily, but they will also need to be on guard against a Dale side well known for their exciting brand of rugby.
Makhanda side Kingswood will be well tested when they take on Queen’s College, while Hudson Park and Cambridge will have their hands full against Nico Malan and Muir respectively.
In a departure from the cross-border action in two earlier games, there are sure to be outstanding encounters when Grey High face Brandwag and St Andrew’s take on one of the top Gqeberha schools in Framesby.
These are repeat fixtures from the 2020 Graeme Rugby Day which threw up two epic games, won by Brandwag (17-10) and St Andrew’s (15-12).
All four teams will be aware of the significance of laying down a marker early in the season and that will only add an extra dimension to the exciting programme set up for Somerset Field.
Graeme, Selborne cap pulsating day of schools rugby by Neale Emslie
Graeme and Selborne capped a pulsating day of schoolboy rugby as they played out to a fiery 7-7 stalemate in another highly successful Graeme College Rugby Day, sponsored by Buco, in Makhanda on Saturday.
The 23rd edition of this Eastern Cape event was back on track after last being played in 2020, just before the Covid-19 lockdown, and drew thousands of spectators to the Somerset Field.
There were some fascinating contests during the day, with two significant results for Grey High and Framesby, who overturned defeats two years ago against Brandwag and St Andrew’s respectively by narrow margins.
The feature match saw hosts Graeme set themselves up for a tilt at East London powerhouse Selborne and although there were not many tries scored, it proved to be a fitting finale to the programme.
In fact, Graeme had a chance to pull off victory when they were given a penalty just inside the Selborne half after the final hooter had gone. Flyhalf Lagon Oerson opted for a shot at the posts, but his valiant effort dipped just below the crossbar and Selborne decided that was enough and put the ball into touch to finish deadlocked at 7-7.
Earlier Graeme’s Asemahle Mbanga scored a thrilling try when he picked up a cross-kick and raced through untouched for Oerson to kick the conversion.
Selborne hit back in the second half from a five-metre lineout when burly prop Aedan Gentle powered over and Kyle van Wyk added the two points.
Graeme were forced to defend desperately late in the game after receiving a yellow card as Van Wyk’s educated boot forced them back into their own territory.
They stood firm, however, and came close to snatching the win through Oerson’s final brave attempt.
In one of the anticipated matches of the day Brandwag and Grey did not disappoint. This was a bruising battle in which neither side conceded an inch and always seemed to find a way through as their fortunes fluctuated throughout.
Grey took a 17-10 lead into the second half but this was quickly swept aside when flank Keanu Botha burst through the defence to run 30 metres for his second try.
The Gqeberha side showed their attacking potential as scrumhalf Daylon Myners outwitted the Brandwag defenders to put them 24-17 ahead, but a Brandwag penalty and a defensive lapse which saw powerful centre Liyema Mtotoyi surge through put the Kariega side back in front.
However, Grey continued to attack and Zuki Tom rounded off another excellent move to make it 31-27, a lead they held onto until the end.
Framesby followed a similar pattern after they saw a 17-10 lead against St Andrew’s transformed into a 22-17 deficit before striking with a late try for a 24-22 result.
The closeness of the sides was reflected in the 10-10 deadlock at halftime after Framesby were awarded a penalty try and flyhalf Nicholas Lane darted over for St Andrew’s just before the break.
A try by wing Bryan Ellard saw the advantage swing Framesby’s way but St Andrew’s kept hammering away. On two occasions they were able to slice through the Gqeberha team’s defence for excellent tries by Miles Bowden and Jacques Cloete.
Framesby, though, were awarded for their persistence when flank Corne Scheepers went over for the final score of the match, Logan Muller making the difference with his conversion.
The day started with a one-sided affair as Pearson proved too strong for Mary Waters (64-5), but this was followed by some well-contested match-ups.
Hudson Park conceded tries in the beginning and the end against Nico Malan, but sandwiched in between were scores from Sibabalwa Mahashe, Jacqyl Wright and Lindani Dweba, with Dweba kicking three conversions in a 21-14 victory.
Muir also scored three tries to take control in a 24-7 result against Cambridge, while Marlow’s energetic performance in the second half eventually proved too much for Dale.
There was little to choose between the two sides at halftime when Dale led 12-10, but the Cradock team upped the tempo in the second half and their opponents were found wanting.
The Dalians could not add to their score while further tries by Burrie van Heerden, Janco van Pletzen and Ulrich Schultz helped Marlow power to a 31-12 win.
Kingswood and Queen’s played in the main curtain-raiser, but neither side could find their best rhythm, with Kingswood doing enough in the end to secure a 14-3 victory.