Sweet victory for College and for Grey

2014-07-29 00:00

MOST KZN schools have changed their rugby balls for soccer balls, but for a few the try line not quite in sight.

Two of the province’s powerhouses — Glenwood and Maritzburg College — extend their season into the third term with a series of tough matches which started on Saturday.

Glenwood’s “Green Machine” took on Grey Bloem on Dixon’s and in the Midlands, Maritzburg College welcomed Affies at Goldstones.

Maritzburg College 37 Affies 10

College turned back the clock to 2006, the last time they had beaten Affies, with a strong win and statement.

Playing at Goldstones after a three-week July holiday, they went into the match with excitement and belief. They turned that belief into untold celebration with an emphatic win, another great chapter in the school’s rugby history being written.

Affies started well and went ahead with an early penalty, but College responded with the first try of the afternoon. Wing Byron Watson created an overlap and found flanker Hayden Tharrat on his inside to run all of 40 metres for his try. Centre Marcel Coetzee converted and College were 7-3 ahead.

Defence was key for College and they displayed great character and commitment. They kept Affies at bay and made the half-time turn 7-3 ahead to play with the wind at their backs.

Coetzee added two early penalties (13-3) and Affies responded with wave after wave of attacks. They had to score next and College rose from the canvas to defend time after time.

After absorbing it all, some phase play by College saw Coetzee take a gap. Running from deep and with pace, he backed himself and scored in the corner. His conversion saw College enjoy a handy 20-3 advantage, extended when hooker Mas Mazwi crashed over from a line-out (25-3). Taking their foot off the pedal a little, College allowed Affies to hit back with a converted try (25-10) but the hosts had a trick up their sleeve.

With 10 minutes remaining, they ran in two superb tries, captain and number eight Daryn Goodson and wing Xolisa Guma doing the damage. Coetzee added one conversion to round off an outstanding win.

“It was a sweet victory and great for us to turn the tables on them,” said College coach Ryan Strudwick.

This weekend, College travel to Pretoria Boys’ High to meet an improved side since beating them 42-26 on Goldstones earlier this season.

Glenwood 12 Grey Bloem 29

This was a much-anticipated clash with both sides having enjoyed strong, consistent seasons. With both schools ranked in the country’s top 10 rugby schools, there was going to be no quarter asked or given.

Grey started well, dominating the early skirmishes with the bulk of territory and possession. Glenwood though, on home ground and with massive vocal support, stood up well, absorbing the pressure and making tackles count.

Discipline on defence was key for Glenwood and they initially passed the test. When they did get the ball, they looked dangerous, running with purpose at Grey’s defence.

A few breaks by the hosts allowed them to get deep into Grey territory, where they were rewarded with a succession of penalties. Craven week U18 player and Glenwood flyhalf Curtis Jonas grabbed the opportunities to put the home side 6-0 to the good.

Late in the half he added a drop-goal (9-0), but Grey showed their pedigree by hitting back with the first try of the match on the stroke of half time. It came as they mauled Glenwood over the line from a line-out.

Ahead 9-5 at the break, Glenwood’s loose forwards set numerous platforms in the second period, which unfortunately came to none.

Both sides played with width and confidence, but Grey were attacking more, calling for more Glenwood tackles. The effort by Glenwood eventually took its toll as they tired from the exertion.

This allowed Grey to run in three tries, with a penalty added for good measure to close out the game.

“The scoreboard does not tell the true story,” said Glenwood coach Rudi Dames. “We were without four of our players who were doing duty at the SA Schools’ trials and the team were outstanding. The replacement players stood tall and I am proud of the lads.”

The win sees Grey unbeaten in 23 matches, extending their record to only six losses in the past 17 years.

This week there is no let-up for Glenwood who travel to Pretoria to face Affies. With a full-strength side Glenwood will feel confident against an outfit that’s been weaker than expected this year.

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