Rovers end Crusaders’ Murray Cup run 39-21 in quarter-final

2013-08-29 00:00

CRUSADERS’ run in the Murray Cup ended against fellow Durban outfit College Rovers in a quarter-final clash on Saturday. The Durban North-based side went down 39-21 as their season came to an end.

It was a case of what could have been for Crusaders, with basic mistakes and poor ball retention bringing their downfall. Up 12-0 in the first half, Crusaders let their grip on the match slacken and Rovers, the champion side they are, needed no second invitation to win comfortably at the end.

“I was impressed by the way the team played,” said Crusaders coach Lodewyk Riekert. “Silly mistakes cost us, particularly losing the ball in the tackle. That was the vital area where we fell short time and again and although it cost us, I cannot fault the passion and commitment of the side.”

Already looking ahead to next season, Crusaders start pre-season training on October 15 with a burning desire to improve on this season’s results.

“This is the first time in three years we are having a proper pre-season schedule,” said Riekert. “It sends a clear message of the road ahead and I have no doubt we will reap the benefits in the long run.”

Meanwhile, not one pundit would have predicted the fairytale run by Piet Retief in the knock-out competition.

They have had home ground advantage and while one upset victory can be rationalised, the prospect of two in a row would have been inconceivable to many.

Yet, the seemingly impossible has happened, and coach Johan Bender’s men, who play in the KZN First Division North Section league, have followed up their opening-round victory in extra-time over Fidelity Security Moor Cup Premier Division side Maritzburg Collegians with a heart-stopping 30-27 triumph over Collegians’ fellow Premier Division side UKZN Impi over the weekend, scoring six tries in the process and leaving 21 points’ worth of kicks at goal on the table.

The outcome is that their bubble will inevitably be burst when they take on KZN club rugby powerhouse and multiple champions College Rovers in the semi-finals at Riverside Sports Club in Durban North tomorrow at 8 pm.

However, the point has already been made that the standard of rugby at club level in the far reaches of the province is higher than might have been imagined.

The first semi-final will see Durban Collegians, who beat Varsity College 50-5 in the quarter-finals, up against underdogs Zululand Rhinos at 6.30 pm at the same venue. The Rhinos accounted for Wentworth Harlequins 31-29 in Empangeni.

Meanwhile, PMB Collegians’ 57-10 win over Westville Old Boys in the Junior Murray Cup quarter-finals will see them face Hillcrest, who went through on walkover after Ballito Dolphins withdrew, in the semi-finals, in Shongweni at 7 pm tomorrow.

Newcastle Highlanders outplayed Amanzimtoti 47-17 in the other quarter-final and tackle old enemy Vryheid, who scraped through 15-13 against Richards Bay, at the neutral venue of Sentraal Rugby Club in Dundee, on Saturday at 3 pm.

MURRAY CUP QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS

College Rovers 39 Crusaders 21

Piet Retief 30 UKZN Impi 27

DBN Collegians 50 Varsity College 5

Zululand Rhinos 31 Wentworth Harlequins 29

Semi-Final Matches

DBN Collegians v Zululand Rhinos: 6.30 pm Riverside Sports Club

College Rovers v Piet Retief: 8 pm Riverside Sports Club.

Both matches are tomorrow.

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