Impi their worst enemies

2013-03-19 00:00

IT was a perfect evening for rugby but not a perfect ending for the University of KZN Impi as University of Western Cape won an intense Varsity Shield encounter 36-13 after leading 18-8 at half time at the Peter Booysen Sports Park rugby stadium on the Pietermaritzburg campus last night.

The Impi worked extremely hard but were their own worst enemies at times as quality attacking opportunities were spoilt by poor hands, but UWC came to the KZN capital with clear intent and were the better side on the night.

With a berth in the final at stake, it was a must-win for both sides.

The physically bigger UWC lads started well and in the fourth minute scrumhalf Denzel Willemse broke right from a scrum inside the Impi’s defensive third before feeding fast-closing inside centre Justin McKay who went over under the poles for a well-crafted try. The polished Muller, voted the Player that Rocks, converted (8-0).

UWC continued to control territory and possession — with the Impi defending bravely — and Muller converted a neat drop-goal on the quarter-hour (10-0).

Captain and number eight Andre Greyvenstein’s Impi came back strongly after the re-start, and a series of pick-and-drives, allied to a well-judged kick into the corner by flyhalf Jeandre Small, put UWC on the back foot.

Points had to come and outstanding support ensured that flanker Zwela Zondi barged over in the corner, inside centre Carl Meyer converting from the left-hand touchline. It was midway through the first half and the Impi were right back in the game, much to the pleasure of the big crowd (10-8).

UWC hit back after the strategy break, putting the Impi under considerable pressure, which the local lads withstood very well until Willemse and McKay repeated a similar dose of medicine as in the opening minutes (18-8).

Nearing the half-hour mark, UWC tighthead Kelvin de Bruyn was sent to the sin-bin. Impi sought to exploit the extra man, but the plague that was a wayward pass — or dropped pass — continued to haunt them; loosehead Leon Mulder and Calvin Ngcungama regretting what might have been on one occasion.

As the clock wound down to half time, the Impi enjoyed their best spell of territory and possession but poor hands at critical moments continued to cost them.

UWC’s lineouts were superior, and after sustained pressure that saw the ball taken left and then right, and back again, number nine Willemse went over untouched for Muller to convert (26-8).

The never-say-die Impi fought back with vigour and replacement front-ranker Senzo Ngubane was squeezed out at the corner flag before Impi fullback Brandon Bailing was closed out in the other corner, but the home team were finally rewarded when Small crashed over (28-13).

The Impi continued pressing hard, camping in UWC’s defensive third, but the boys from Bellville were able to hold. UWC rubbed salt into Impi wounds when Kenwin Weiner’s chip-and-chase brought another eight-pointer, the consistent Muller kicking the conversion (36-13).

Despite the Impi’s disappointment, it has been a good campaign for last year’s wooden spoonists.

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