KZN summary of the matches for the week ending 19 March 2022

On Gilfillan, Hilton got their 150th birthday year regular rugby season started on a positive note with a convincing 54-5 victory over Northwood. Forward dominate, good cohesion and decisiveness passing/line-running paved the way for the win.

Hilton’s burly no.8 Thomas Dyer was the pick of the players. His memorable performance resulted in plenty of hard-yard gains to help set vital front-foot platforms and easily earned him the title of BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation Big Ball-Carrier). The dominance of Hilton was such that numerous players stood out. Amongst them tighthead Nick Snyman, who will hope for better times in the scrums but as a net positive ground gainer in traffic, was up there with Dyer as one of the best in the province this season to date. Outside centre Michal de Beer’s form and finishing was so good, that in a different season it would have probably made him the favourite for Craven Week selection but in this unusual season of incredible depth in that position, maintaining the same high standard seems like it will be fundamental for any candidate hoping to don on the 13-jumper at the premier youth week event. For Northwood, in spite of being outmuscled in open play,  scrumming was a positive. Young no.8 Enzo van Niekerk looks like a good prospect and hopefully versatile Gareth Viljoen enjoys better quality possession in future matches to better show his skills.

At Pietermaritzburg Day, the biggest crowd of the day turned up at Goldstones to see the capital’s two top schools, Maritzburg College and St Charles College, do battle. The visiting Saints were rusty and struggled to find unity when they had ball possession. They did put together see more meaningful gains with ball-in-hand towards the end of the match and were able to score the final try of the game, to go down 45-7. Maritzburg College were easily the better team in the exchanges but as far as scoreboard influencing was concerned, it was the undeniable X-factor of player of the match Lili Bester (#13) and Spah Ngcobo (#15) that stole the show. Both were in red-hot form and without them, the scores might have been a lot closer. Bester is certainly putting up his hand as one of the best players in the country at the moment.

Visitors Clifton College gave a good account of themselves on Bowden’s, going down 43-17 in their first ever 1st XV match against Westville. Clifton took a pounding in the first half as a result of a general lack of exposure to playing at Tier-1 level. They regrouped and adapted nicely after the break and went on to win the second half. Players giving a good account of themselves were Josh Saayman (#8), Luke Field (#6), Ryan Bensch (#3) and Michael Langston (#9) . All four players had represented Clifton together at under-13 level in 2017. For Westville, the second-half focus was more of a big picture one, as they tried to blood back-up playing combinations ahead of their festival tour down to the Eastern Cape at the end of March. Interestingly just like College, Ville’s two most prominent players on the day happened to be in the outside centre and fullback positions, occupied in this instance by Likhona Finca and the versatile Brett Kriegl respectively.

Side note: Clifton has a number of Westville Old Boys’ on their rugby related staff. Former Westville 1st XV head coaches Grant Bell and Hendan Weinand, Strength and Conditioning Head Oliver Cash and the long-servicing Clifton head coach Ross Saayman who has been at the helm since 2007 (2006 was Clifton’s first ever matric year).

At Dixon’s, it was a case of horses for courses, as player of the match, the Morne Steyn-like flyhalf Drico Marx, maximised on his talents with the boot as well as a really sweet cut-out passing ability to play the most crucial role as hosts Glenwood beat Michaelhouse 17-10 in an evenly matched encounter. Like Steyn, Marx is possibly bound to not win many accolades as a running-rugby styled number-10, but on a day when there was a factor-playing wind to contend with, his tactical kicking out of hand, his 12-points with the boot and his long accurate passes, one of which provided an assist for his team’s only try of the match proved to be the difference maker. The Green Machine try-scorer right wing Rolando le Fleur impressed with his exceptional pace. He may be small in stature but boy does he pack a Bugatti Chiron engine under the hood. It would be unfair to exclude the Grasshoppers’ fullback Jaco Williams from the credit roll too. Strategically he was sharp, particularly in the second half, adding to the amazing depth KZN has in this position in 2022 and that is without mentioning Michaelhouse’s Ayabonga Zakwe, who is also a fine prospect. A well-executed backline move which started a bit shakily at the back of the scrum, saw Marx finding line-joining Williams with a pinpoint accurate delayed pass, after the decoy runners had done their bit to distract the House D in midfield. Williams wasted no time in feeding le Fleur. Even still you would have put money on the cover to cut down the wing’s angle somewhere along the right touchline, but he flicked some sort of nitrous gas switch which took him over in the corner.

As mentioned, it was a match where the teams neutralised each other in many of the positive aspects of play. In the end it was Glenwood’s tactical superiority promoted by their knowledge of the wind-factor on their ground, which was vital to the outcome. As hard as they tried, House really needed an X-factor to breach the Glenwood defence. Their efforts deserved something more that three points from Zakwe’s boot and they were rewarded, perhaps a little fortuitously when tall outside centre Campbell Ridl stole an intercept from a bit of a pedestrian pass inside the Glenwood 22. Through this try the visitors led 10-8 after 25 minutes, and then spent the next 45 minutes scoreless, including playing much of the second half pinned back in their own territory, as Marx slowly chipped away with three penalties after the break.

Kearsney 1st XV beat DHS 1st 24-20 – match report provided by Kearsney.

Kearsney hosted DHS in a monumental clash on Saturday, with both teams going into the match high in confidence.

The first half was predictably an arm wrestle, with both sides placing an emphasis on the territorial battle. Both teams struggled to gain ascendency, and it was only a matter of time before points were registered. The first try came through abrasive running from Kearsney’s Sange Mdunylwa who crossed the dotted line in style. Matthew Bergset converted.

DHS responded shortly thereafter with a penalty to reduce the deficit to 7-3.

The next score was courtesy of a penalty try for collapsing the maul against DHS, which put Kearsney ahead and increased their lead to 14-3.  DHS refused to allow the scoreboard to deter them and, moments later, scored a dazzling set piece try. Well-manufactured play resulted in their fullback scoring under the poles making the score 14-10. The first half provided entertainment of the highest pedigree, with Kearsney holding a slight advantage heading into the break.

After 10 minutes of ferocious physicality, Kearsney earned a penalty for a scrum infringement, and Matthew Bergset duly obliged, extending Kearsney’s lead to 17-10.

The game then garnered several penalty infringements during the next passages of play. Kearsney on this occasion would be penalised for collapsing the maul and would also receive a penalty try against them, to tie the match at 17-17.

The hosts now trailed by 17-20 with 15 minutes to go, and would need to respond quickly and positively – which they did. Kearsney scored through some magic from Aya Mngaza who used his superior footwork to release Likhona Nunwana for the try. Bergset would unbelievably convert from the side-lines, to give Kearsney a slender lead.

The score remained 24-20 to the hosts, despite a last-ditch effort from DHS to breach Kearsney’s defences.  Kearsney hung onto a memorable victory on the Stott, the fixture providing compelling viewing from start to finish.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. @ForeverHorseFly: DHS added. School was transparent yesterday, stating they would only finalise the team late on Friday. Without knowing the reason, I suspect it was assess injuries before making a final call.

    Basically the same team as last week with a few positional switches and the only new selection being that of headboy Owen Morgenrood on the flank.

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  2. @Skywalker: I think the jury is going to stay out on this year’s College pack for now. The general feeling is last years pack was a lot stronger. Time will tell. Like you mentioned they have some great backs.

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  3. @Beet any thoughts on the MBC pack? we know they have a great backline, but what of the pack? How do they compare to last years pack?

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  4. Northwood must have suffered some injuries because I can see quite a shuffle, especially in the front row! 4 x 2nd Team boys now in the starting 15 and a rejig of positions…very unfortunate. I believe Gareth Viljoen was a flyhalf so not sure why he was playing scrumhalf, and looking back Enzo Van Niekerk has been a scrumhalf since Grade 8, so not sure why he being played at No 8? Speaks to a team short on options unfortunately. But maybe this will help to get boys in the right spots. I wish them luck, that Thomas Dyer is probably the size of the entire pack on his own!

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