’House ends with a flourish

2008-08-03 00:00

The final match of the season on Meadows at Balgowan was not a classic, but the huge crowd of well over 8 000 spectators enjoyed the sunny weather and an entertaining game as Michaelhouse beat Hilton College 31-16.

Stuart Berry, one of KZN’s top referees, was very strict at the tackled ball and this accounted for most of the 30 penalties in the match, which did count against a flowing game. Nevertheless, there were some exciting moments as the home side outscored Hilton by three tries to one.

Once again it was the flair of the Michaelhouse backline, which despite a paucity of possession, still managed to create more scoring opportunities.

When Michaelhouse did win good ball, flyhalf Reef Nakin managed to get across the gain line with his jinking run. Had there been a “Man of the Match”, he would have been the choice of many as he created many scoring chances.

Hilton loose forwards won the battle for possession in the tackle situations and this led to the amount of possession that they enjoyed, but perhaps they were too predictable in using it.

Michaelhouse were the main transgressors leading to the penalties, and the boot of Hilton flyhalf Garth Gerber kept them in the game, either with points or gaining territory.

A stiff breeze became a factor as the game progressed, with Michaelhouse having the advantage in the second half when fullback and SA Schools player Patrick Lambie had some long touch-finders.

Michaelhouse led 8-0 after the first five minutes with Lambie landing a penalty and scoring a try. The try came from a lineout close to the Michaelhouse 22- metre line. Nakin made the break and then passed to right wing Ruan Combrinck. He made 50 metres up the touchline before passing inside to Lambie who dived over.

Two Gerber penalties over the next 10 minutes closed the gap to two points. Lambie and Gerber then traded penalties for the hosts to lead 11-9 going into injury time. Mihaelhouse were then awarded another penalty in front of the posts, just 10 metres out, and they caught Hilton napping. The ball was swung to the right and Combrinck scored in the corner. This time Lambie threaded the uprights giving his side an 18-9 lead at the break.

Just four minutes into the second half, Nakin kicked ahead. With the bounce in Michaelhouse’s favour, Lambie followed up, caught the ball and crashed over for his second try. He converted this penalty and then another, taking the score to 28-9.

Hilton put a lot of pressure on Michaelhouse with their forwards picking up and driving, and they were rewarded when wing Emile Schwartz came through at pace, receiving the ball from the ruck, to go over under the posts. Gerber converted and the lead was cut to 28-16 with the last quarter to play.

Hilton had further opportunities, but the Michaelhouse defence held firm and Lambie increased his personal tally to 26 points — and Michaelhouse to 31 — with a long penalty conversion from just inside the Hilton half to complete the scoring (31-16) with 15 minutes still to play.

Michaelhouse, who had increased their winning margin in the return game from three to 15 points, were delighted with their win, while Hilton were disappointed to end on a losing note

Other scores: Westville 17 Maritzburg College 17; Glenwood 62 Kearsney 0 (these will be reported on in Mike Hill’s rugby round-up in tomorrow’s Witness).

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