Maritzburg College left it until the last play of the match to end a 12-year wait for a win on Kearsney’s Stott Field. With time almost up and College trailing 7-12, Kearsney blew a golden opportunity to relieve the pressure when an attempted exit from a ball carried back into the 22 crossed the plain of the touch line on the full. For College, securing ball from the ensuring lineout wasn’t a given. On a very wet, misty afternoon, ball-handling had proven to be a massive challenge for the players and although College’s lineout aided by go-to jumper Brannan Webster’s good execution, had pulled off two very technical set switch moves in the first half that came close to resulting in tries, the set-piece had proven to be problematic for them. Nevertheless when push came to shove, the Red Black and White came together as a team and produced the goods. They used the lineout platform to set up a sustained attack that was met with plenty of resistance. As with so many earlier attacks during this big battle, it could quite easily have ended with an unforced error or turnover of another sort but this time when it mattered most, the College composure was outstanding. Finally openside flank Malwande Dlangalala who capped an excellent individual performance, crashed over reasonably close to the upright to level the scores. Like the lineout, the conversion wasn’t a certainty either yet scrumhalf Henry Trodd handled the conditions and the pressure very well to direct his low kick down the middle. Moments later the final whistle sounded to confirm the come from two scores behind 14-12 College win.
By the 47th minute Kearsney had grown their lead to 12-0. Although College dominated territory and had more of the possession in the first 35-minutes, the One-Stripes opening try in the 11th minute was the only score of that half. The Kearsney pack contributed to that cause by producing a series of meaningful drives deep in the redzone before the backline was called into action. Tough young flyhalf Matt Hind was a marked man during the match and did well to get the ball away before being smashed. Outside centre Connor de Bruyn then produced an outstanding bit of skill to rescue the situation by collecting the unfavourable pass and getting it away to 1.91m/105kg powerful fullback Derick Marshall, who was literally unstoppable from so close to the line.
In the seesaw battle for possession 5-0 became 12-0 from an unlikely starting point. College’s very short and compact frontrow consisting of Cebo Dlamini, Junior Mndaweni and Athi Matsheke had ascendency in the scrums for the better part of the match but surprisingly conceded one of their two tightheads at an inopportune moment, this after the visitors had seemingly saved a threat by turning over one of their opponents’ attacking lineouts inside the 22. Kearsney spearheaded by their workaholic captain Ox Carmody at tighthead, gave hooker Reid Stuart the leeway to heel against the head, which amounted to quickball that soon found itself tucked under the arm of midfielder de Bruyn who took the outside gap on a diagonal line and had too much go-forward to be hauled in once disposed of his marker via a powerful handoff. Scrumhalf Cade Carmichael converted the try.
College struck back almost immediately. They won a penalty soon after the kickoff. Choosing tap-and-goes ahead of kicking for the corner proved to be profitable. The determination not only caused the Kearsney defence to infringe, it got College over the line where tighthead Matsheke rose last with the ball from the heap of bodies and duly received the embraces from his delighted teammates. With Trodd’s kick, the deficit was reduced to 12-7 with 19-minutes left to play, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
College’s strike runner flyhalf Anele Nzimande had accounted for two of the more memorable attacking moments in the game. In the first half his dink over the top and into the in-goal area created a 50:50 chance that was knocked on by a teammate just before the break. With the score at 12-7, he set off on the longest individual run of the match, an outside to inside path over 50m. With the line beckoning, Kearsney flank Aaron Smith produced the try-saving tackle. It didn’t quite end the danger for the home side as College pressed for the 5-points. The exciting atacking passage fizzled out when promising eighthman Mass Fierro won a turnover on the tryline and proceeded to carry the ball out of the danger area.
|1||Bradley Taylor||u18||1||Cebo Dlamini||u17|
|2||Reid Stuart||u18||2||Junior Mndaweni||u17|
|3||Oliver Carmody||u18||3||Athi Matsheke||u17|
|4||Tyson Andrews||u17||4||Brogan Tedder||u18|
|5||Dean Burrell||u18||5||Wandile Hlophe||u18|
|6||Carlo Miller||u18||6||Malwande Dlangalala||u18|
|7||Aaron Smith||u17||7||Brannan Webster||u18|
|8||Massimo Fierro||u17||8||Siya Ningiza||u17|
|9||Cade Carmichael||u17||9||Henry Trodd||u17|
|10||Matthew Hind||u17||10||Anele Nzimande||u18|
|11||Luke Dudley||u17||11||Khwezi Hadebe||u18|
|12||Luke Wilson||u18||12||Siphe Kekana||u18|
|13||Connor De Bruyn||u17||13||Philani Simamane||u19|
|14||Josh Muller||u18||14||Kaid Morsink||u17|
|15||Derick Marshall||u18||15||Jarred Hendrikz||u18|