Kearsney College ended a six season losing streak against Highways neighbours Westville with a 20-3 victory in front of a full house on their Founders Day.
Based on form coming in, Kearsney were favourites. Nevertheless it promised to be an interesting match-up between two of the provinces strong teams.
Westville made the more promising start and enjoyed the upper-hand for the first 13 or so minutes. It was Kearsney who scored first though, when cool young Tristan Tedder slotted home a close range penalty, following the home team’s first really threatening forage into opposition territory.
Westville kicker Louis Snyman only just missed a super long range penalty attempt in the 17th minute but made good a minute later with much easier effort after a Dylan Rust dab over the top had Kearsney in sixes and sevens before eventually conceding the penalty from a ruck infringement.
At that stage 3-3 seemed a fair reflection of a game that neither side had gained complete control over. Gaining metres though player drives around the fringes had proven very hard to come by. As expected the big ball-carriers in the form of the Du Preez twins, Nqoba Mxoli and Mzizi Zondi had their chances to bash it up but returns fell far short of their season averages as a result of equally big defence. The intense contest amongst the forwards was satisfying to watch as it involved many big physical collisions and some fierce tackling.
The out wide play is what transformed the game. Kearsney’s line looked flatfooted for the best part of the half. The midfield often received inaccurate ball in standing positions, making them relatively easy targets for advancing opponents. Westville backs appeared desperately in need of a playmaker of sorts. They failed to ignite and the ball did not flow through the hands with much confidence. Their best attacks initially came from well placed box kicks rather than activities with the ball in hand.
It therefore seems ironic to state that Kearsney’s first try was produced from a Westville tactical kick and engineered by Kearsney backs running with purpose and passing with precision but that is exactly what happened.
Kearsney fullback Josh Devine has risen from the ranks of second team player to establish himself as one of the best counterattacking fullbacks at first team level. He collected the possession turning over box kick and fed it to the explosive Sandile Kubheka, a powerful runner that commands attention. Once Kubheka had broke through a vital initial tackle, it proved to be a case of Kearsney backs running intelligent support lines and offloading well timed, accurate passes that undid the Westville defence and culminated in a superb team try dotted down by Deal Seals.
Tedder added the conversion in the 22-minute to increase Kearsney’s lead to 10-3, which they held going into the break.
Before halftime both teams had chances to increase their points tally from kickable penalties but opted to use other forms of attack with Westville choosing a scrum and Kearsney preferring a tap and drive. Neither effort turned out well. Snyman was also unlucky to see another penalty attempt hit the upright.
The second half began in ominous style for Kearsney as Westville’s fragile defence in the backline became more and more noticeable when the game was stretched and the protection of the strong tacklers up front could not be counted on. Kearsney left wing Isolethu Ngidi found himself in the midfield and looked like he was about to be caught in possession well behind the gain line. At the crucial moment he shrugged off the tackle with a good hand-off and then cut back inside against the grain. This new line opened an unguarded channel that he proceeded to take maximum advantage of with a run that carried him to within metres of the tryline. Daniel du Preez made a habit of popping up in the right place at the right time and the recipient of Ngidi’s pass dived over for the try.
Tedder added the extras and the lead was up to a healthy 17-3.
More Kearsney attacks followed as their backs upped the tempo a notch. Du Preez was unfortunate to be denied his second try. The build-up involving slick passing and determined running by his teammates in the line, ended with him being stopped just short by a no-arms tackle. He managed to pick himself up and dive over but was pinged by the referee for his action.
By this stage, Kearsney were easily the better team on the field and full value for their big lead.
Westville battled for quality ball and made frustrating mistakes that often halted their progress. Their tactical kicking game also blew hot and cold and their defensive structures let them down at times. The second half was also characterised by many penalties being awarded, particularly at rucks. Kubheka missed a long shot at goal but Kearsney extended their lead to 20-3 when Tedder landed an easy penalty.
It was then left to Westville to end the game finally playing to their full potential. They attacked with meaning. With passes sticking, runners showing urgency and the ball being well protected at the breakdown, many phases of play were strung together. Westville camped on the Kearsney line for the last 5-minutes and were unlucky not to cross for a try as last gasp gutsy defending only just kept them out.
20-3 is how this entertaining game finished.
Kearsney’s victory was well deserved and ended their Founders Day weekend, which included the unique unveiling of a giant Kearsney flag that covered half the grandstand, on a high note.Given that Westville had proven to be their bogey side so to speak, it was also a huge relief to finally win a Highways derby.
Kearsney College: 15 Joshua Devine, 14 Dean Seals, 13 SandileKubheka, 12 Tyler Smith, 11 IsolethuNgidi, 10 Tristan Tedder, 9 Matthew Reece-Edwards, 8 Ayron Schramm, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Jarred Hayes-Hill, 5 Daniel du Preez, 4 Jayson Hirshovitz, 3 Ben Karnezos, 2 Roy Meaker, 1 JonoDeighton (captain). Replacements: 16 BiaggoPelliccia, 17 MthunziMoloi, 18 Sean Kelly, 19 Guy Francis, 20 Blair Cremer, 21 Travis Pears. 22 ThuthuNdlovu
Westville Boys’ High School: 15 Dylan Aylward, 14 Louis Snyman, 13 SaneloMchunu, 12 Brad Ellse, 11 Keegan Paverd, 10 Dylan Rust, 9 Reece McHardy, 8 Edward O’Neil, 7 André de la Rey, 6 Thabo Ngcongo (captain), 5 Nathan le Roux, 4 Gareth van den Berg, 3 NqobaMxoli, 2 Michael Downer, 1 MsiziZondi Replacements: 16 Jackson Buthelezi, 17 Bradley van den Berg, 18 Cody Eibig, 19 Dylan Bright, 20 Cary Jackson, 21 Tyron Moller, 22 Wiseman Ndlovu