Chris Ndlovu stars as Varsity overcome titanic collegians challenge

2010-08-18 00:00

MARITZBURG Varsity withstood a titanic PMB Collegians challenge to win their Castle Murray Cup first rounder 31-16 on Saturday in a match where the lead changed hands six times.

A perfect winter’s afternoon greeted the biggest club crowd in Woodburn Stadium in a while, who were treated to a classic local derby that doubled as the PMB Cup final.

Adding spice was the starting 30, including 13 Maritzburg College old boys as well as Voortrekker and St Charles lads.

KZN First Division South Section winners Collegians took the game to sixth-placed KZN Premier Division Varsity from the first whistle.

Highly rated referee Magnus Oosthuizen of Empangeni blew the students up for a string of transgressions at the fiercely contested breakdowns that plagued the Whites throughout and ensured they were badly behind in the possession and territory stakes for over an hour.

The question is, as a Varsity man pointed out, was the Collegians tackler releasing the tackled player, apart from the obvious tackled player not releasing the ball?

Collegians’ wrong options cost them at least 10 first-half points, and a 14th-minute penalty by outside centre Kirsten Jones was all they had to show for 30 minutes’ dominance.

As so often happens when you don’t turn possession into points, disaster struck Collegians five minutes from the break. A missed tackle saw aggressive Varsity flank Shaq Shabalala make the initial foray up the left with pacy number eight Jonno van Rensburg finishing off the 40-metre move in the corner.

Flyhalf Donald Baines added the extras and quite inconceivably Collegians trailed 7-3, whittled back to 7-6 by half-time when Varsity conceded yet another penalty and Jones slotted the easy three — ­although the fine goalkicker missed a few in this match that he would normally have got with his eyes closed.

The best local derby in a long time saw justice restored soon after the break when a Baines goalline fumble from scrumhalf Rogan Heyns’s pass saw alert Collegians inside centre Shane Driemeyer pounce for a converted try.

At 13-7 up with 30 left, underdogs Collegians were capable of carrying off a major upset, despite the strong words of Varsity head coach Dylan Campbell at the break.

Campbell did make an impression, though, as Varsity lock Chris Ndlovu was imperious in a combative pack and his team-mates profited from concerted pressure when fullback Ian Baines burst over for effective replacement flyhalf Wessel Booysen to add the extras.

On a slender 14-13 lead, Booysen’s over-robust play undid his and Varsity’s good work somewhat and Jones restored Collegians advantage (16-14). But the match breaker soon after saw referee Oosthuizen adjudge that Collegians right-wing Ross Ashton deliberately knocked down a Varsity pass in an overlap situation in the red-black-and-whites’ 22. The question is, why would a superb ball player like Ashton do this when the ball went up, not down, strongly suggesting he went for the intercept?

Varsity were on top at last and added another 10 in the last six. Hard-running right winger Gareth Borchardt was initially thwarted by a brilliant tackle over the tryline from Collegians’ outstanding flank, Bobby Warnock, before combining superbly with the ever-present Ndlovu for the try of the match.

Varsity probably deserved the win. They made opportunities count, and had impact players compared to Collegians’ genuine reserves’ bench, while pace on the counter-attack also reflected the difference between premier and first division. That said, Collegians are premier material and that must remain the goald of shrewd Collegians coach Rinier Bosman and top-notch captain and hooker Charl Bezuidenhout.

The outstanding Ndlovu shone throughout the 80 minutes while replacement flank TC Khoza was adjudged man of the match by Bosman for his string of vital turnovers in the last quarter, the period where the game finally turned the campus team’s way.

Khoza’s brother Zimele at outside centre was chosen by his team-mates as the Whites’ back of the match. They had also voted for Ndlovu as their man of the match.

Friday night sees Varsity away to Durban Collegians in the quarter-finals. It won’t be easy as the Durban lads comfortably beat the students in the league encounters. PMB Collegians meet Hillcrest in the Junior Murray Cup quarters at Woodburn at 8 pm.

POINTS SCORERS

PMB Varsity (7) 32 (tries: Jonno van Rensburg, Ian Baines, penalty try, Chris Ndlovu; conversions: Donald Baines, Wessel Booysen 3; drop-goal: Booysen) PMB Collegians (6) 16 (try: Shane Driemeyer; conversion: Kirsten Jones; penalties: Jones 3).

RESULTS

South Coast 18 Jaguars 17; College Rovers 99 Hillcrest 0; Durban Collegians 52 Toti 15; Crusaders 68 Ballito 20; Zululand 38 Vryheid 20; Old Boys 41 Piet Retief 14; Harlequins 54 Ladysmith 0.

FIXTURES

Murray Cup quarter-finals (8 pm Friday): D Coll vs P Var; Saders vs Zululand; Rovers vs Quins; OB vs SC. Reserves 6.30 pm. Junior Murray Cup (8 pm Friday): PMB Collegians vs Hillcrest (Woodburn); Vryheid vs Ladysmith; Jags vs Toti. Reserves 6.30 pm. Saturday: Piet Retief vs Ballito (3 pm).

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