First Michaelhouse vs Hilton today

2008-05-02 00:00

The first of the two annual clashes between Hilton and Michaelhouse takes place today on Gilfillans at Hilton, starting at 3.30 pm.

With only one other match taking place in the province today, there is sure to be a large crowd around the ground. The normal supporters of both sides and the spectators, particularly from schools who will be playing either of the two Independent schools later in the season, will likely fill the ground.

There is even less schools’ rugby in the province on the second long weekend in succession. The Independent Schools who do not all take public holidays are still at school. There are other KZN schools in action in Johannesburg, where there is a festival finishing today.

Hilton have won five matches with one draw, in the six matches played to date and they will be far more confident today than they were in the first encounter last year, where they lost by 40 points. Michaelhouse have played nine matches, winning eight and losing one. This points to a tight contest this afternoon.

There is only one side that both teams have played and that is Harmony Sports Academy from Virginia in the Free State. Hilton played them in their first match at the end of last term, when they met at the Voortrekker Festival, but in pouring rain. With neither team able to play their normal running game, it was just a penalty apiece to show at the final whistle.

Michaelhouse met them in their fifth match of the season and their first game at the Vryheid Festival. The scoreline of 30-12 doesn’t tell the full story of a tough match, but it was ultimately the heavier Michaelhouse lads that came through in the end, outscoring the Academy side by fourtries to two.

The form shown by the Balgowan boys last Saturday, when they scored nine tries against Kearsney, with a magnificent display of running rugby, will make them the favourites in this first clash. Hilton three weeks ago, also had a massive win against Northwood when they scored 12 tries. Northwood, with respect, are however, not of the same level as that of Kearsney.

The spectators should be in for a thrilling match, as both teams have the wish and the ability to spread the ball wide at every opportunity.

The only other local match is at Kearsney, where they will be hosting St Charles, also kicking off at 3.30 pm. Neither of these two teams has had a good start to the season, although Kearsney did have a five-match tour of New Zealand. They have played 10 matches, including the five off shore, but have only won twice.

St Charles have played nine games, winning five, but these victories were against second tier opposition. They have both played Westville, St Charles in their first match at the Voortrekker Festival and Kearsney met them two weeks ago. Both sides lost, St Charles by six points to 40 and Kearsney three points to 25. Neither could score a try against Westville. This points to a tight match today, but Kearsney showed last week that they are an improving side, as they scored four tries against Michaelhouse. In most of the other matches that they have lost, they have still been able to get over the tryline, whereas St Charles have only scored two tries in the matches that they lost.

Kearsney has a stronger tight five and will probably win more ball than their visitors. This will enable the backs to put pressure on the St Charles players and if they miss tackles, then Kearsney will surely outscore the Maritzburg side.

A two-day festival, sponsored by FNB, sees the second round of games taking place at Northcliff in Johannesburg today. This co-ed festival held annually sees 10 schools from KZN playing against 10 schools from Gauteng. From KZN this year are Carter, Pinetown, George Campbell, Kloof, Scottburgh, Wartburg, Durban Academy, Hillcrest, Grosvenor and New Forest. Good news for Glenwood supporters is that Glenwood, playing in Japan, have won the first two games at the Sanix World Rugby Youth International, beating a Japanese side 40-5 and then scraping home against the top English school, St Benedicts, 12-10. They will probably be playing today in the semi-final, as their next game was against another Japanese school yesterday.

Fixtures:

Hilton vs Michaelhouse; Kearsney vs St Charles.

At Northcliff: Wartburg vs Sandringham; Carter vs Mondeor; Pinetown vs Fourways;

Hillcrest vs Westridge; Kloof vs Northcliff; Grosvenor vs Bryanston, New Forest vs Greenside; Durban Academy vs Hyde Park; George Campbell vs Rand Park; Scottburgh vs Glenvista.

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