Varsity coaches praise brave display in defeat to champs

2010-06-09 00:00

THAT Maritzburg Varsity lost 32-7 to KZN Premier Division champions College Rovers at a packed Varsity Stadium Friday night did not take away the praise.

“It was the fastest, most physical club game of the season and the opportunity to test ourselves against what is arguably the best club team in the country, and for them to score their [bonus point] fourth try with just six minutes left on the clock shows that our defence was outstanding,” said Varsity head coach Dylan Campbell.

Varsity assistant coach Beans Bateman agreed: “It sounds crazy with a score like that, but I am very happy. Rovers are a very good side; all I can ask for is 100% commitment and you saw that today. We made them work hard.”

Varsity are still carrying a lot of injuries and the unavailability of backline players, the talented American Brendan Gray (flu) and the England Premiership’s Chris Micklewood (important church commitment), did not help either.

Rovers fielded their best side of the season as they go in search of their fifth consecutive Premier Division title. In Sharks Super 14 loose forward Keegan Daniel, Sharks caps Ross Cronje (scrumhalf) and flank Jody Jenneker, they had match-winners. Add the likes of current Sharks XV players Mark Richards (left wing), Jerome Pretorius (inside centre) and flanker Michael Rhodes and you have a formidable club combination in this most rousing of matches.

Throw in former Sharks, London Irish and British Barbarians forward Ryan Strudwick and his assistant and former Sharks team-mate Brad Mac­Leod-Henderson and it is clear what a challenge it is to meet Rovers.

That said, the biggest club crowd seen in PMB for a very long time witnessed the most courageous of displays by the Varsity men in a match where the big hits were monstrous at times on a cold winter’s night.

A big difference, though, was Rovers’ kicking game, which was clearly superior to that of the students. That said, Varsity undid much of Rovers’ phase play in an outing that will give them heart once the Premier Division season resumes on July 10. But pressure tells even against the most physical of defences, and Jenneker broke free to burst over from 20 metres in the first half for 13-0 at the break before prop Roy Godfrey, Cronje and Daniel (penalty try situation) did the rest. Fullback Wesley Dunlop kicked the points.

Varsity were left to regret missed opportunities, but the brave campus team came back from 25-0 down when they got justice for their efforts through flyhalf Wessel Booysen and fullback Matt Boylan’s conversion.

In Saturday’s Ebbo Bastard Trophy Inter-Sub Unions clash at Woodburn, two classy tries by lanky forward Chris Ndlovu and back Alex Curry, plus Kirsten Jones’s trusty boot, were enough to give Midlands Marauders a 15-13 win over Southern KZN.

Said coach Campbell, “The boys played as a team, which is amazing, having only had one practice, coming from all the different clubs. There was a big crowd and we created a lot of great opportunities but never finished them off, while Kirsten Jones had a great game.

“I was very pleased with the effort of the boys and the desire to play as a team and hang on to the win, although we could have won by a lot more.”

A week’s practice should stand the Marauders seniors and U21s in good stead against the Northern KZN Lammergeyers in Vryheid this Saturday.

Marauders’ opposition should be no easy meat with the side likely to be packed with Vryheid first XV players, who are comfortably winning KZN First Division North.

On their home ground and in front of their home crowd, these Vryheid guys are dangerous and the Midlands boys can expect a bruising battle.

It was a bad start for Marauders U21 as they lost 21-15 to Southern KZN. “With players having played during the week, there was no time for practice and the team only got together for the warm-up,” said frustrated coach Steve Botha.

RESULTS

Premier Division: PMB Varsity 7 College Rovers 32; Zululand 11 Crusaders 32; Harlequins 20 Old Boys 40; Jaguars 12 DBN Collegians 69. Reserves: PMB Varsity 3 Rovers 17; Jaguars 7 D Coll 85; Quins 10 OB 13; Zululand 0 Saders 36. U20A Div KO semis: D Coll 42 OB 21; Empangeni 19 Rovers 24. U20B Div KO semis: D Coll 26 PMB 7; Rovers 48 OB 18. Inter-Sub Union: Midlands 15 Southern KZN 13. U21: Midlands 15 Southern KZN 21.

FIXTURES

Saturday — Inter-Sub Union: Open and U21 (Vryheid): Northern KZN vs Midlands.

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