In a match characterized but not limited to stand out kicking out of hand and from the tee, Kearsney rained on DHS’s 150th Celebration Rugby Day parade by hanging on to beat the hosts 26-22 in a highly entertaining match that proved to be a fitting advert for the festive occasion.
Kearsney had built up a very useful 17-3 lead by the 25th minute. At that stage the One-Stripes were the better team on the park. The visitors stuck very methodically to their game plan. They missed a few opportunities to go wide but all in all-in-all by holding onto the ball, seeking contact and playing closer to their pack worked out for the better. Their lead was a combination of contributing factors: well controlled possession, using the boot to play the game in the right part of the field and solid defence. However the input of a special player was required to get the two crucial tries that made up the 14 point difference. Dylan Richardson, the Kearsney under-17 blindside flank proved to be a significant difference maker on the evening as his contributions near the DHS line turned possession into maximum points. Twice within the space of 10 minutes Richardson looked to be well covered by defenders and both times he barged passed them using superior upperbody strength and leg driving power to score vital tries.
Thanks to very good tactical kicking mainly by valuable scrumhalf Warren Driver from the base of rucks but also by flyhalf Kyle Mertsch and fullback James Sutherland when called on, DHS found themselves having to regroup from well inside their own half much of the time. Youngest Sutherland was a revelation from the kicking tee, adding 16 points via the two conversions and four penalties, three of which he slotted after the break. He created the impression that he could knock them over from anywhere on the park.
At 17-3 DHS mounted a fightback. They allowed two golden try scoring opportunities to literally slip through their fingers. First flank Sbu Mkhaliphi’s near perfect offload allowed his fellow flank Sean Barnes to charge through a gap before being brought down inside the Kearsney 22. The recycled phase was a quick one and DHS centre Onke Jiba who had good outing, toed it ahead towards the left corner in-goal area. Here left wing Tonderai Ndudzo knocked on a 50:50 chance to get downward pressure. Then a few minutes later Cham Zondeki who looked very good at fullback collected a highball and started an attack. Classy scrummy Sanele Nohamba had a snipe as well before DHS lock captain Ryan Dafel made an unexpected clean linebreak from the side of a ruck. At the critical moment with the tryline beckoning, the secondrower’s inside pass was too low and knocked on, otherwise the support player (centre Mvumeleni Mathenjwa) would almost certainly have scored.
Although a very small player in stature the official Man of the Match Nohamba has huge boot on him. His box kick is top quality and his place-kicks achieve both distance and accuracy. His pass is strong and he’s nippy on top of that as well. His two penalties before halftime had the teams changing ends at 17-6 to Kearsney. Using his raking boot he was able to turn defence into attack a couple of times.
Two more excellent strikes by Nohamba after halftime saw DHS eat into the Kearsney lead at 17-12. The errors kept coming and the kickers kept obliging. 17-12 became 20-15 before Kearsney jumped to 26-15, with Sutherland’s last shot at goal being off the charts good, as it sneaked over from more its starting point more than 50m away.
Here and there both attacks produced promising breaks but they these could not be turned into 5-pointers until near the death, when DHS won a penalty in the Kearsney red zone and spread the ball wide with urgent from a tap. Good handling saw a replacement back score in the right hand corner. Nohamba lined up and landed the acute angle kick in next to no time to reduce the deficit to 4-points.
Kearsney were able to run down the clock and clear the ball off the pitch to record their hardest earned victory over DHS in a number of years.