Unlucky Varsity give Roversa workout

2011-04-19 00:00

THE 21-5 scoreline might suggest KZN and SA club champions College Rovers had it all their own way against UKZN Maritzburg at a rain-drenched Peter Booysen Sports Park on Saturday afternoon, but statistics can be misleading.

The sopping wet conditions made for a gruelling opener to the KZN Premier Division season rather than the open, running rugby so many predicted in a match that represented Varsity’s 100th year in KZN club rugby, but it was an absorbing contest nevertheless.

The campus-based forwards held up well against a strong pack in a match that featured a host of ex-Rovers now playing for the Whites of Varsity. Adding extra spice, the students’ head coach Beans Bateman won a hatful of titles during his stewardship of the champion Durban side.

Former Sharks and Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez is in his first season as head coach of Rovers.

Both sides were understandably wary of keeping ball in hand, and kicking for position predominated.

Aside from goal-kicks going astray either way, Varsity’s line-breaking centre Willem Rheeder had the first real opportunity, but minutes later Rovers scrumhalf Shannon Rick stole around the short side for a try.

Near the break Rovers’ impressive young flank Brynard Stander drove strongly and referee Jaco van Wyk tagged Varsity offside. Rovers’ former English Premiership fullback Chris Micklewood added the first of two penalties for the champs to go into the break 11-0 up.

The second half brought new meaning to the term “rain bucketing down” and the hardy crowd were treated to the unusual sight of a loosehead prop, Roy Godfrey, picking up a loose ball and running 35 metres to score. Micklewood converted and added a penalty before Varsity were deservedly rewarded for their enterprise when left wing Jaco Potgieter went over after superb build-up.

Flyhalf Peter Grunow, centres Wessel Booysen and Rheeder, hard-running right-wing Gareth Borchardt and the Varsity pack deserve mention in a side that spurned kickable penalties in their search for tries.

In KZN First Division South, PMB Collegians continued their matchless form, but the walkovers Hillcrest had over PMB Elephants and Amanzimtoti over Wentworth are a concern. Another worrying factor is the struggle Pietermaritzburg Under-20A and Under-20B are having. While at senior level the PMB clubs are faring well, at Under-20 level things are not as good after some positive gains in recent seasons.

RESULTS

Premier Division: Zululand Rhinos 8 Crusaders 14; UKZN Maritzburg 5 College Rovers 21; Harlequins 18 Old Boys 14; Jaguars 3 DBN Collegians 68.

Reserves: Rhinos 27 Crusaders 17; UKZN Maritzburg 13 College Rovers 29; Harlequins 15 Old Boys 28; Jaguars 15 DBN Collegians 38.

First Division South: South Coast Warriors 29 Ballito Dolphins 20; Hillcrest walk over PMB Elephants; Kokstad 0 PMB Collegians 51; Amanzimtoti walkover Wentworth; UKZN Durban 5 Richards Bay 25.

Reserves: S Coast 43 Ballito 0; Hillcrest walkover PMB Elephants; Kokstad 0 PMB Collegians 78; Amanzimtoti walkover Wentworth.

U20A: College Rovers postponed DBN Collegians; Old Boys 6 Crusaders 10; Pietermaritzburg 3 Empangeni 79.

U20B: College Rovers postponed DBN Collegians; Pietermaritzburg 5 Empangeni 45.

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