Affies, the current number one ranked rugby school in South Africa scored eight tries as part of a 53-23 victory against Glenwood on Dixon’s field in Durban.
This game began as a start-stop affair in very warm conditions. Glenwood took advantage of Affies’ conceding penalties at regular intervals during the first 15 minutes to build up a useful 11-3 lead against the Witbulle. By that stage, the long shot outcome was that Glenwood had it in them to pull off an upset but the more realistic forecast must have been for a much closer game than it turned out to be in the end.
Glenwood were not starved of possession during this match. Neither were they pinned back in their own half for large chunks of the game. So the home team had ball to work with and they had field positions from which to launch attacks. It was execution that let them down. Glenwood broke the unwritten law of “don’t go into a game against a powerhouse cold”. Yes they had many games under the belt this season but the decision to sit out last week after a long July holiday break proved fatal. Comparing the overall quality of play of the Glenwood 2nd team, who had a match the weekend before and beat Affies 19-12 in the curtain-raiser, to that of their first team added weight to this point. Some of the problems the 1st XV experienced could have been ironed out in a warm-up game. Glenwood’s biggest letdown for this match appeared to be their inability to retain possession. A combination of unforced errors and poor ball security at tackle breakdowns generally handed the initiative back to Affies in the form of turnovers and there were numerous turnovers during this game. Once Affies had the ball, Glenwood struggled to reorganise their own defence and even to make meaningful tackles that would have slowed down or stop the Affies’ continuity.
It wasn’t all the negatives on Glenwood’s part. The hosts were often only as good as their opponents allowed them to be. Affies were sharp to respond to situations. They brought on pressure that broke up the Glenwood patterns. This alertness did not end on defence either. On attack, Affies’ decision-making was smart. Their counterattacking was outstanding and didn’t involve flinging the ball around wildly either. It was cool and calculated. When they saw the need to do so, the boot was introduced to get them downfield and turn the Glenwood pack around. In broken play the Witbulle are an extremely dangerous team for a number of reasons: they mixed things up a bit making their attacking patterns unpredictable, there was a good understanding amongst teammates, their handling was quality stuff, they were able to offload in tackles, they had speedy go-to players as well as powerful upper-body strength physical contact carriers and finally they used some forwards who are genuine ball players effectively to accomplish attacking missions. So skills were a premium for Affies on the day and they did not waste ball either. 43 unanswered points came in just 25 minutes!!!
During the first 15 minutes there was opportunity to shake heads a number of Affies players contributions. However from 11-3 down, they put their foot on the accelerator and from then onwards, it was difficult to find a weakest link. Many players stood out. The decision-making of unassuming flyhalf Dawie Venter and the astuteness of SA Schools hooker Francois Steyn rated highly but perhaps the player who contributed most individually to turning the game in the first half was inside centre Phillip Orpher who just seemed to be bang on the money with everything he did on attack and made a few important tackles as well.
Affies went into halftime 32-11 up. Captain Ivan van Zyl didn’t bring his corner kicking boots with him otherwise it might have been worse. He converted just 2/5 tries in the first half. First half tries included a hat trick scored by initial right wing Tiaan Schmulian who played most of the game on the left after a clash of heads ended starter Thys van Wyk’s match, Eduan Keyter weighed in with brilliant solo effort and mobile prop WP Eloff scored the fifth try.
Affies scored a further three tries in the second half with van Zyl achieving a 100% success record as Orpher scored twice and SA Schools centre Jurie Linde got the final one.
A very unpleasant off the ball incident caused a temporary stoppage to the game. It seemed to take a lot of fizz out of the visitors attacking play. Glenwood finished reasonably well, showing character by coming to terms with the technical issues that had haunted their performance during the first half or so and contributed to giving Affies such a big advantage over them. They added to Corne Vermaak’s first half try with tries by wing Morné Joubert and replacement no.8 Waelon Hippolite. Vermaak kicked all the extras. It ended 53-23 with Affies not adding to the scoreboard for the last 25 minutes of the match.