The Hilton-Michaelhouse derby is one of the best attended in the country. Despite being a little out of the way, the match often attracts huge crowds with talk about 15000 and more spectators not unusual at all.
The head-to-head between the 2 private schools current stands at played 187, with Michaelhouse on 94 wins, Hilton on 83 and 10 draws since 1904.
Michaelhouse are having a terrific year and as a result of having won this season’s first leg 12-11 at home back in early May, the pressure is now really on Hilton to conjure up something special in order to end 2012 on a high note.
Much emphasis has been placed on the 6 players Michaelhouse have in the Craven Week team, yet Hilton has a very respectable team as well, it’s just that locally results particularly in the tight games haven’t gone their way during this extremely competitive KZN season. Apart from Cameron Wright, who will be travelling to Craven Week, Hilton have good rugby prospects in captain Chris de Beer, his vice Sebastian Negri and gr.11 loose-forward Nqobi Maseko are all of whom are part of the KZN Academy Week team. Calvin Smith, Tim Fainsinger and Greg Pappas are amongst the other useful players that are able step up and change the outcome of a game.
With House coming off a tough game against Kearsney and then having to commit players not nursing injuries to 2 testing practice sessions against u19 opponents from the Sharks as part of Craven Week preparations this week, the build-up has certainly favoured Hilton. Add to this that House, who’ll be travelling to Gilfillan, lost their only other big away game this KZN season and it becomes slightly easier to imagine Hilton winning this one.
However there’ll be no illussions amongst the Hilton players. Michaelhouse are well drilled outfit. They have a good balance within their set-up and in many respects their more traditional style of play turns the clock back to a time when forwards played as forwards and backs as backs: the hard graft gets done up front and the backs are afforded room to operate in. There is a good understanding about roles and responsibilities in this House team.
So expect a big one in front of a capacity crowd irrespective of how cold it is. The form, the recent record and the long-term history all point to a Michaelhouse victory but I’m going to back Hilton to play with passion and cause what will be viewed as a major upset by the public.