Match report compiled by Kearsney. I have added a few extra notes in bold blue
Kearsney hosted Westville Boys High on a hot afternoon for the season’s first traditional fixture. The match started with high tempo, both teams making statements of open running rugby.
It was definitely an action-packed first half, starting right from the get-go with Westville 13. Likhona Finca and 7. Avethandwa Tukwayo upping the gears early on. I really felt that Ville have to design more plays that allow their 7 and 8. Tebogo M’khomazi to run into space, as both players are able to inject pace.
Kearsney scored first in the 6th minute after some good interplay between backs and forwards. The ball was moved to right winger Likhona Nunwana, who scored in the corner, and scrumhalf Matthew Bergset converted for a 7-0 lead.
In the immediate build-up to this try Kearsney lock Matthew Campbell who was my the pick as the home-team player of the match, improvised with a basketball pass to keep the move alive and Ayabonga Mngaza who is a very useful outside centre consolidated to make the try possible for the speedster on the outside.
After receiving the ball from kickoff, Kearsney transferred the match into the visitors’ 22m area. Relentless pressure ensured a penalty, which setup a Kearsney lineout 7m from the goal line. Prop Sani Sawuti dived over from the lineout maul, to stretch the lead to 12-0.
There were many lineouts in this match and the Kearsney lineout definitely left a lot of room for improvement. However this particular lineout proved to be a cleverly disguised set move to set up the driving maul.
Westville responded with greater structure and were eventually rewarded with an unconverted try in the left corner, to shrink the deficit to 5-12.
Just prior to this try the Westville 15. Brett Kliegl came up with an outstanding bit of individualism which probably deserved a try. He injected pace in the second receiver channel, grubbered ahead, collected and with the tryline at his mercy just could not hold onto the ball. It was perhaps a mixed bag day for him but also earned a few credits late in the match when Kearsney’s pacy Numwana had two one-on-one’s with him and could not get past on either occasion.
The build up to the Ville opening try was due to a Maroon lineout misfiring. Westville 6. Kungawo Mbangwa who is part of that dynamite backrow trio, carried well. A quick recycle followed. WBHS livewire 9. Lwethu Mdabe was sharp and ran a short left route. Loosehead Liyema Ntshanga came up with the New Zealand offload skills to keep the continuity alive. Again Tukwayo had the legs to go over.
The next Westville try came from a 22m blunder from the hosts, when they attempted a short kick to a teammate. It was intercepted by the visitors’ centre, to score untouched under the cross bar to level the scores at 12-all.
Basically Kearsney attempted a quick 22 dropout but lofted the kick too much. Finca was probably 10m away but read the situation and raced in that distance at full tilt to pick off the kick in similar fashion to an intercept. So for Kearsney good idea, a bit of bad execution but also great alertness by Westville.
Kearsney responded with a penalty and led 15-12 with seven minutes of the half remaining. Westville capitalised on some pick and go close to the Kearsney goal line in the last minute of the half, to lead 17-15 at half time.
The Kearsney 9. Bergset may not have featured in the credits at the end but a really useful player. Good decision-maker. Good pass. Great boot from the base.
Westville grabbed the lead when Mbangwa crossed from tight play at close range. They had set up a lineout and then a scrum in the lead up. After both setpieces M’khomazi was instrumental in getting the go-forward. He was even held-up in the first play leading to the scrum-five.
The second half was tightly contested with both teams displaying resolute defenses. The attack was marred with handling errors as fatigue set in. Kearsney scored an unconverted try by centre Ayabonga Mngaza three minutes from the end, which resulted from a turnover scrum and some intelligent play by fullback Nhlakanipho Ngubane.
The second half was saved by the last two minutes of the match. Prior to that there were numerous errors in midfield. Both sets of coaching staff need to perhaps work on a little more variation going forward especially Kearsney who do seem like they have the ball-handlers to set the players on the outside free. There was also a high number of penalties at the rucks, which happens in schoolboy rugby.
The scrum turnover description is an understatement. Kearsney really shoved Westville right off the ball to the extent that it looked like it might result in a penalty for Westville due to that Law about 0.5m – if it still applies to school rugby. After the tighthead Kearsney spread the ball nicely and intelligently to create the opportunity.
From the kickoff receipt, Kearsney managed to kick the ball into the Westville half, which in return launched an attack. Kearsney was penalised and advanced a further 10m in a moment of poor discipline.
The visitors managed a lineout maul 7m out from the goal line and, with their macro pack, managed to pick and go for an unconverted try. That concluded the match with Westville victorious 22-20.
Mbangwa got the winning try after a bit of pick-‘n-drive play by the visitors.
What a finish! Not good for the nerves.
Worth noting is that several Ville boys started to cramp up in the last 10-minutes. It was a similar story about 4-year back during the same fixture. At one stage there were three Ville boys down and Kearsney could not take advantage of this. The injuries did however allow Ville to bring on replacements.
It was an exciting match to watch with the lead changing on many occasions. Players who stood out for the home team were captain Jason Brien, winger Likhona Nunwana and locks Matthew Campbell and Cameron Roache.
Brien and Roache were rock solid and involved in plenty of collisions.
Final word is about Ockie Schonken, the Westville lock. I loved his work. My personal favourite player on the day. I think in a KZN season where there are plenty of backrow and midfield choices on offer, but still some questions about the tight-five, he is worth his weight in gold in that second row. A solid tight player and key lineout target.