Michaelhouse edge Hilton in another schoolboy thriller

2008-05-04 00:00

The large crowd of over 7 000 spectators around Gilfillans at Hilton thoroughly enjoyed another Saturday afternoon of superb schoolboy rugby.

This time the entertainment came not from the many tries that were scored, but from the cut and thrust of two evenly matched teams before Michaelhouse beat Hilton 21-18.

Michaelhouse went in as favourites because of their pacy three-quarters, but even the most ardent Michaelhouse supporter would concede that a draw would have been the fairest reflection of another good advertisement for schoolboy rugby.

Michaelhouse won by three points, but it was a penalty for an off-side infringement at a tackle, late in injury time, that gave them a victory. This new off-side law — explained at the end of the article — has caused some confusion and debate and will take some time before players react instinctively to it. Referee Chris Healey did have the advantage of being in direct communication with his two assistants, and this ensured that the match was well managed.

Hilton were the stronger in the forwards with their loose trio often getting to the breakdown first.

The Michaelhouse backline again had some neat touches and they were unlucky not to score two more tries, one when the ball was dropped over the tryline and the other when flyhalf Reef Nakin was tackled just short.

Hilton surprised their opponents with their commitment at the breakdown and some very good defence. There were some huge tackles made by both teams, bringing oohs and aahs from the large crowd.

Hilton dominated early on and it was only later in the first half that Michaelhouse began to threaten the Hilton tryline. Michaelhouse were not helped by playing with 14 players for 20 minutes of the game, as two players — one in each half — were given yellow cards.

Hilton flyhalf Garth Gerber opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a penalty. The first try was scored by Michaelhouse prop Louis Albertse in the 23rd minute following a free kick. This came after Hilton had tried to run the ball from behind their line instead of kicking to touch. Ruan Combrinck added the extra points for the Balgowan lads to lead 7-3.

Five minutes later, a ruck ball saw centre William Hodgson knife through the Michaelhouse defenders to score seven metres in from touch. Gerber slotted the angled kick for Hilton to lead 10-7. From the kick off, Hilton made a mistake and Combrinck kicked the penalty for the two sides to go into the break at 10-10.

The first five minutes of the second half saw Gerber and Combrinck trade penalties (13-13), but the Hilton forwards created a maul and moved the ball quickly, first to the left and then to the right, for fullback Craig Saunders to make the break. As he was tackled by the cover defence, he flipped the ball to wing Andrew Schorn, who scored in the corner. Gerber failed with the touchline conversion, but Hilton led 18-13.

After a period of concerted pressure, Michaelhouse right wing Dave Strachan scored in the corner. The missed conversion left the at 18-18 with five minutes remaining.

It was a tense period for supporters, as players threw everything in to the attack to attempt to get across the advantage line. Much of the play was in midfield. Gerber did have a chance to put the home side into the lead with another kick from the touch-line. He had the direction, but fell just short. Then came the final penalty by Combrinck, which ensured the 21-18 victory to Michaelhouse.

Other scores during last week:

Kearsney 18 St Charles 11; Creston 15 Suid Natal 7;

In Japan: Glenwood beat Fushimi (Jpn) 40-5; St Benedicts (Eng) 12-10; Ryutu Keiza (Jpn) 69-0; won semi-final against Gisborne Tech (NZ) 15-8. Glenwood play French school Tarbes in final today.

At Paarl Gym: KZN Academy 7 FNB Invitation 14; Pionier 20 Diamentveld 8; KZN Invitation 12 Windhoek 21; Pionier 18 FNB Invitation 17

At Queens: DHS 10 Queens 33; DHS 10 Selborne 27; DHS 12 St Andrews 36

At Northcliff in Johannesburg: Hillcrest 22 Northcliff 24; Kloof 39 Westridge 3; Carter 12 Glenvista 20; Wartburg 24 Randpark 22; Carter 28 Mondeor 10; George Campbell 19 Randpark 9; Wartburg 34 Sandringham 26.

• Tackle Law: After a tackle has occurred, there are off-side lines across the field. No player from the defending side may play the ball or an opposing player until he has moved behind the off-side line or he has been placed on-side by an opposing player running five metres with the ball.

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