Toti versus Piet Retief, only game in town

2013-08-09 00:00

FORGET about everything else, there’s only one game in town, as far as club rugby is concerned

It’s all going to play out at 2 pm today on King’s Park’s number two field, where Amanzimtoti tackle Piet Retief in the KwaZulu-Natal First Division final.

After a hard season of 14 rounds in the KZN First Division South Section, Amanzimtoti won it by seven points from Richards Bay, to qualify for the title match.

Their opponents will be Piet Retief, the two-point winners of the KZN First Division North Section over Newcastle Highlanders.

Amanzimtoti also won the KZN First Division title last season, but opted not to challenge for promotion against the KZN Premier Division’s last-place team. This year it’s different, Amanzimtoti coach Jeff Harper told The Witness during a final practice last night.

“If we beat Piet Retief, I owe it to my players to challenge [Premier Division wooden spoonists] Harlequins for promotion,” said Harper. Should Toti beat Piet Retief, the promotion/relegation round against Quins will be at the tail-end of the season, once all the knockout cup matches are over. Should Piet Retief beat Toti, they won’t challenge Quins, which is not surprising when one considers how far away they are, having been part of the Mpumalanga rugby union at one stage.”

Harper said the Amanzimtoti lads’ strength is their fitness, team spirit and ability to exploit the soft underbelly of teams in key areas.

“We have been very strong in some important areas of the field, while a big plus has been our fitness and continuity in the side from last year. The guys play for each other, which makes for a happy team.”

Amanzimtoti’s coach expects Piet Retief to challenge strongly in the tight phases, but is confident his players will step up when it matters.

Piet Retief coach Johan Bender, whose club moved from the Mpumalanga union to the KZN union in 2004 and promptly won the KZN First Division North Section in the two years following, are back in the winner’s circle up north after a seven-year wait.

“We’ve got a good pack and all the boys are ready,” said Bender.

“We have had very good practices this week, where we have concentrated on a few areas. We know their key players and if the weather forecast of cold, wet conditions comes true, it should be in our favour.”

What can be forecast with certainty is the effort that Amanzimtoti and Piet Retief will put into this match.

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