Brave effort, but Impi stumble

2011-03-02 00:00

THE University of KZN Impi were left to reflect on what might have been in their Varsity Shield rugby match against University of Western Cape at the Peter Booysen Sports Park in Pietermaritzburg on Monday night, as two tries were left on the table and kicks at goal shaved the wrong side of the uprights.

UWC won 24-15 after trailing 10-3 at the break. They managed to rumble over for two tries from effective rolling mauls and the third came after sustained pressure finally tore open a hole in the impressive Impi defensive screen. UWC flyhalf Ambrose Steyn kicked the rest in a Player that Rocks (or man-of-the-match) performance.

“We struggled in the first half, but came back strongly in a very tough game,” Steyn said.

Indeed, UWC took the lead for the first time only in the final quarter.

“We proved that we can play both brands of rugby, not just the running game we are known for,” said UWC skipper and lock JP Kellerman.

Outstanding Impi number eight Leon Stevens scored a great try off the back of a scrum and lock Tinashe Bopoto finished off a superb Impi maul after the changeover. Fine running from Stevens had set it up.

Impi centre Willem Rheeder is a game breaker and once in each half he evaded a host of defenders to race upfield, but the final pass that would have led to tries went astray.

As Impi captain and hooker Justin Meanwell said afterwards, “we need to work on our finishing”.

UWC had a similar chance in the first half when pacy fullback Ashley Kok streaked up the right touchline, but the crucial offload went awry.

Going into the game, Impi star Jaco Pretorius had won two consecutive Player that Rocks awards, and he again had another very good outing. The fullback kicked a penalty and a conversion, while on any other day those two or three other goal kicks would have gone over.

Spare a thought for the Impi, all part-timers, who are up against teams that to all intents and purposes are professional outfits, the players training three times a day and living in camp for months together.

In that context, their courageous effort was nothing short of outstanding.

The Impi have a bye next Monday before meeting Wits in Johannesburg, followed by Fort Hare away, and then returning home for the final encounter against Central University of Technology on March 28.

RESULTS

Varsity Shield: UKZN Impi 15 UWC 24; Wits 22 Fort Hare 13.

Varsity Cup: UJ 20 Pukke 16; UCT 45 TUT 16; Maties 49 NMMU 17; Shimlas 20 Tuks 15.

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