Michaelhouse beats Kearsney

What a good advert for schoolboy rugby this game turned out to be. With so much at stake in the form of the winner being crowned the number one KZN team for the season, Michaelhouse and Kearsney would have been forgiven for playing conservative, minimal risk rugby. Instead both teams did not disappoint, producing some of the most attractive rugby of the year.

The match started brightly enough for Kearsney. They dished out as much as they got in the form of positive attacks, is what amounted to a very even few opening rounds of action, reflected by the 6-6 score-line.  However on about the 20th minute, the floor fell out from under Kearsney’s lineout game, very suddenly and unexpectedly.  Up until that that point their set-piece it had been operating efficiently with good variation. As seen many times this season in big KZN games when lineouts start to malfunction they affect the outcomes. Kearsney were however fortunate to have a very dependable defensive system in place. Although they were pressed hard by House in the red zone, pressure that was compounded by not having any ball to work with, they kept their structure.

After repelled several offences, often forcing the hosts to make unforced errors close to the line, Kearsney eventually surrendered to a well taken try by hooker Stephan Hardman on half-time. Crucially Rob Anderson missed the relatively easy conversion which had a significant impact on the way the game ended.

It was 11-6 at the break.

Anderson had a below par day with the boot in general but everything else about his game was top notch. He tackled for all he was worth and his quickness on his feet was also evident. It was his passing game that stole the show though and in particular his ability to pinpoint Gordon Loubser-Hattingh with accurate cut-out passes when the fullback joined the line at full tilt. These off the chart distributions that opened up the Kearsney defence spoke volumes about this skill that the blonde flyhalf possesses.

It was Anderson’s combination with one of the players of the match no.8 Josh Moon that advanced the House lead to 18-6 in the second half.

Moon is a player blessed with having a good turn of pace and reliable hands but possibly his greatest gift lies in his ability to evaluate unfolding situations and respond to these in the blink of an eye. Many used the term rugby brain to describe this attribute, which clearly gives him an attacking edge on many of his competitors at this level. Moon often floated around and proved very difficult to mark. He was responsible for several promising and flashy carries but it was his contribution made shortly after the halftime break that was most vital on the day.

A few minutes into the second half, Moon dashed clear to collect a perfectly weighed Anderson chip in behind the flat defensive wall on the Kearsney 22. Fighting off the attention of the retreating Kearsney flyhalf Tristan Tedder, Moon gathered and eventually managed to force downward pressure while lying on his side under the posts. Controversially Tedder received a yellow card for presumably making an early tackle and at the time some even thought at that the referee had perhaps awarded a penalty try.

Anderson, the playmaker was at it again soon after the restart, igniting another move that threatened to open up the Kearsney defence. At that stage it looked as if the 14-man visitors were about to crumble.

Instead the exact opposite took effect. Kearsney gathered their composure and started to threaten House. Lineouts improved and with the return of quality ball, Kearsney were able to set up their dangerman Sandile Kubeka at centre for one of one match-ups from which they profited handsomely as he easily found ways to get across the advantage line. Michaelhouse were made to defend and unlike Kearsney, they resistance nearer the try-line was not as firm. Still down a man, Kearsney hit back with a close range try by captain Jono Deighton, converted by Kubeka to push the score to 18-13 after 12 minutes in the second half.

The excitement did not subside but the next score was made with only 5 minutes left on the clock. Another build-up saw Kearsney advancing to near the House line. Once again it was decisive play, this time initiated by Matt Reece-Edwards who’s dummy was bought by the home defence, affording him the opportunity to get through a hole and offload to Tyler Smith who then dived over for the 5-pointer.

Another amazing talent to come through this season has been Kearsney flyhalf Tristan Tedder. Although he’s by no means a flamboyant player, there is a great deal of maturity and accuracy in his execution, meaning he seldom makes poor decisions. Considering that he is still under-16 and quite a lightweight in size, there is still much time for him to improve plus get bigger and stronger over the next couple of years , which bodes well for his future in a Kearsney one-stripe jersey. Tedder’s coolly taken conversion from an outside foot angle amounted to his 20th success from 21 attempts in his last 5 games and put Kearsney ahead by 2 points at 20-18.

The visiting team’s comeback took a few seconds to sink in. It came as a surprise that Michaelhouse were now behind on the scoreboard.  Nevertheless it was now the home team’s turn to step it up and show some fighting spirit. In this regard they did not let the large crowd down.

In the tensed finish imaginable, Kearsney were pinged for offside with just 3 minutes left. Anderson stepped up and missed from 40-metres out. Then with a minute 30 left, Kearsney went off their feet at a ruck and effectively prevented the ball from coming out on House’s side. Inspirational captain Justin Moberly, who himself had had an outstanding game, once again placed his trust in Anderson to land an even longer penalty than the one he had just missed. However from the halfway line, the flyhalf pushed his kick right and short. Kearsney failed to make a good clearance and House had one last chance.

Michaelhouse kept their wits about them under very testing circumstances and with virtually no space to work in and time up on the clock, they did enough to earn one last penalty from a high tackle near the Kearsney line.

Another brave decision followed and the weight of the world was placed on the right-footed Anderson’s shoulders to land a kick from the right-hand touchline. You would have heard a pin drop on Meadows field in Balgowan in the seconds before his kick, one that he’ll probably remember for the rest of his life, which he struck sweetly. The ball seemed to stay in the air for an age before decending between the sticks, confirmed by the raised flags of the officials.

21-20 is how this fantastic match ended. Michaelhouse were the victors in what has turned out to be a very successful and memorable season for the school. It must also be regarded as amongst the biggest turnarounds in fortunes of a KZN school in subsequent seasons considering how poor House’s results were in 2011. Even more remarkable has been the closeness of the key KZN matches played on the Meadows this season, where House have gone unbeaten with the largest winning margin being 3 points.

Michaelhouse team:

1 C Holenstein, 2 S Hartman, 3 C Whitting, 4 A Pienaar, 5 J Moberly (C), 6 L Strachan, 7 M Fenn, 8 J Moon, 9 C Brits, 10 R Anderson, 11 K Harrison, 12 D Stephen, 13 C Furniss, 14 B Arnott, 15 G Loubser-Hattingh

 Kearsney team:

1 J Deighton (C), 2 J Meaker, 3 B Karnezos, 4 J Hirshovitz, 5 D Du Preez, 6 J Hayes-Hill, 7 J Du Preez, 8 A Schramm, 9 M Reece-Edwards, 10 T Tedder, 11 I Ngidi, 12 T Smith, 13 S Kubeka, 14 D Seals, 15 J Devine


  1. Most of the newspaper articles refer to a penalty try. In reality it was scored by Moon.If he had not scored a penalty try would have been awarded for the early tackle which then justifies the yellow card.

  2. Star, whatever! The tackle was ligit, forcing a knockon which should have been a scrum to KC. MHS oldies behind the poles in fact make comment of this on facebook (alas it being Old Boys weekend, perhaps the 48 hours without sleep blurring their judgement) the better team however, did win. I think they were simply outstanding, and certainly played better rugby for much longer periods. Their players picked for CW certainly showed their selection….I look forward to seeing all these guys at CW.

    Good to see KZN rugby healthy…good luck Craven Week.

    Oh, good luck MHS v Hilton…should be a classics too!

  3. Quick question, I have not seen a yellow card and penalty try all for one I fringement? Anyone? Also, thought the sanction was heavy handed considering the penalty count was fairly low, both sides playing good clean rugby and the time of the game was only about 27 minutes. Opinions?

  4. @kcob: Low penalty count? 3 penalties in the last 3 minutes is pretty outrageous! Either very poor discipline from Kearsney or those darn Midlands refs again ?

  5. Had a chat to a neutral spectator re this game. He mentioned that MHS deserved the win, yellow card was over reaction by ref, Kearsney seemed to panic in the last few minutes causing all the penalties. He mentioned diving in at the ruck and failing to find touch by Kearsney were key. Bottom line is the side, according to even KCOB, that deserved to win did. Sounds like a everything seemed to happen in the last few minutes. Exciting. Similar to College game at 20 all and not much time on the clock.

    Watch Hilton come with a surprise.

  6. Not televised. The Kearsney Choir will be on SS5 if you wanna see that…he he he

  7. I agree. MHS were full value for their win. I honestly could believe it when KC stole the lead back at 20-18. House didn’t take a few kicking points on offer and turned over the ball near the KC line a few times but the most frustrating thing for their supporters had to be watching the pass to their quick wing Arnott being unnecessarily delayed on at least 2 occasions when it was on big time. If he’d been given the ball with a bit of clear air ahead of him, things might have been very different. But that’s the nature of the game. KC capitalised on chances and defended well to make a good game of it. It’s been a very good season for Kearsney as well.

  8. Right, I eat humble pie, as SA’s top ref has just explained how he would have blown the ‘early tackle’ on Moon. He says, rule of law allows both yellow and a penalty try which I was not aware you could do.

  9. in speaking to a Hilton father today , looks like this weekend could be close, considering that the score was very close last time between Hilton and MHS, as it was said above Hilton could take this one and then where would the rankings be , its been a very close season

  10. @Greenhopper: Think Hilton are sorted at no.6 in KZN. This was a season in which any of the top 6 could have beaten any of the others and Hilton missed opportunities despite having the best schedule along with MHS in terms of home games. Glenwood, Westville, Kearsney = 3 with the 4th one split, so only 1 away game.

  11. KCOB- Why are you not on a plane for England?
    Yes, you can get yellow card and penalty try. In fact, it would be the norm to get a yellow IF it was deemed to have affected a try. From what I heard it was perhaps a harsh call to call it early. Really going on hearsay having not been there.

  12. Would love to be on a plane to the big smoke, but you know, wowrking class dad! Bummer!

  13. Gents – it is standard protocol that a penalty is accompanied by a yellow card so if I am understanding the discussion correctly, if a penalty try was awarded then the YC is standard issue.

  14. MHS u16’s. The surprise of the season. Need inside information. How many new boys were added to the mix since they started at u14 level?

  15. Ya, Greenblooded. I was not aware that both YC and penalty try could be award, especially considering the infinitely small line between being penalties able and legitimate…but anyway, the youngster enjoyed his season. It was a cracker match in which I was very impressed with the MHS players.

    Ps. How’s the weather in London? My lightly lands there tomorrow for cricket tour?


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