Schools impress in epic tie

2013-05-28 00:00

Maritzburg College 40 Glenwood 44

THIS epic game will go down in the memories of the large crowd of close to 10 000 as one of the best, if not the best, schoolboy game ever witnessed on Goldstones. It had everything — excitement, exhilarating running, massive exchanges, skilled turnovers and two sides that enjoyed running with the ball in hand. This would not have happened without arguably the top referee in world rugby, Craig Joubert, who allowed plenty of advantage with a minimum of stoppages.

There was a red card for College for a “tip tackle”, and few would argue with Joubert’s judgment. Anyone who did not see the red card would have found it hard to believe that College then played for 40 minutes with just 14 players, because thereafter College outscored Glenwood 30-28.

While the result was disappointing for the thousands of Old Boys, everyone present will remember the game, not for the result, but for the exhilarating display of a game played at a frenetic pace. The players from both teams had wonderful vision on attack and the passing, handling and angled running was out of the top drawer.

The lead changed seven times in the match, with 11 tries scored — six by Glenwood and five by the home side. It was a thrill-a-minute with play moving from the trylines. A number of times, after one side scored, the other responded immediately.

It is not often that play goes on without interruption for two minutes, but when it goes on for nearly five minutes, it is a passage of play one is unlikely to see again at this level. The fact that the players were not flat on their backs, sucking for air, is testimony to the good work put in by both conditioning coaches in preparing the teams, because it was energy-sapping stuff.

Unfortunately, two of the recently announced members of the KZN Craven Week team left the field with injury. Both boys are Coetzees — Jaco the Glenwood eighth man with a shoulder injury, and Marcel the College centre with an ankle injury. One hopes that both will be able to recover before Craven Week.

After five minutes the score was 10-5 to College, who opened the scoring with a penalty from Coetzee, followed by a try by fullback Corné Vermaak for Glenwood. College struck back when fullback Kelvin Elder weaved his way through the Glenwood defenders to score under the poles. Coetzee added the two extra points. It was about eight minutes later that Vermaak added a penalty to narrow the gap. Five minutes before half time, wing Morné Joubert intercepted a long pass with College on attack. He scored in the corner to give Glenwood a 13-10 lead. A minute later the lead was extended with a Vermaak penalty, followed by the red card. College stood tall and immediately went back on attack, awarded a penalty in the Glenwood 22-metre area. A quick tap-and-go saw lock and captain Seko Buthelezi crash over under the posts and, with the Coetzee conversion, College took a 17-16 lead at half time.

Four minutes after the restart, Coetzee put College 20-16 in front, but then came possibly Glenwood’s most productive period in the game as they added two converted tries in the next eight minutes. The first was when centre Akhona Nela used the extra man to good advantage and then centre Nkululeko Mcuma finished off a wonderful move.

Many thought this could signal a dominance by Glenwood for the remaining 25 minutes.

This was not to be, as the courageous College outfit would not lie down. The forwards were getting the better of their opponents and prop Tiaan Steyn scored after a number of well co-ordinated pick-and-drives. The conversion by Jordan Koekemoer was charged down, but the gap had narrowed to 25-30. He then converted a penalty but minutes later missed a long-range attempt. From a turn­over at a ruck, flank Waylon Hippolite fed Joubert, who ran 40 metres to score and extend Glenwood’s lead to 37-28.

College again used their forwards before spreading the ball and, from the ensuing ruck, a pick-and-drive enabled lock Wian Jacobs to rumble over. Koekemoer converted and College were two points behind.

With the College support deafening, Darren Goodsen scored arguably the best try of the match. Vermaak placed a diagonal kick for wing Joubert to chase, but College wing Banele Ngwenya beat him to it before finding replacement flank Renard le Roux, who passed to replacement flyhalf Jason Alexander.

The playmaker found the College No 8 on his inside and sheer guts and determination got Goodsen 20 metres to the tryline for what many thought would be the winning try.

With three minutes remaining, Glenwood were awarded a penalty in the College 22-metre area, but close to touch. A kick would’ve drawn the game for them, but they opted to kick for a lineout. After winning their own ball, Glenwood got the ball to Joubert, who went over for his third try and with the added two points by Vermaak, Glenwood snatched a memorable win.

Hilton 39 George Campbell 10

The home side were more structured and organised in all phases of play, which led to their scoring six tries to one.

At the break Hilton led 20-0.

Westville 45 Northwood 0

Westville were rampant and scored five tries, with Louis Snyman converting three of them. Wing Donovan Pieters scored a brace, with centre Brad Ellse and props Jonty Osborne and Mzamo Majola each scoring.

In the second half, Snyman and flyhalf Reece McHardy both scored.

Other results: St Charles 10 DHS 25; Clifton 17 Voortrekker 12; St John’s 19 Michaelhouse 55; Hillcrest 7 Eshowe 14; Kingsway 7 Pinetown 60; Thomas More 17 St Henry’s 17; Linpark 0 Weston 45; Hilton II 11 Port Natal 24.

Photo: smugshots

Three players named in the KZN Craven Week side are pictured above — centre Marcel Coetzee from Maritzburg College (right) with the ball attempts to get away from Glenwood centre Akhona Nela (centre) as Glenwood fullback Corné Vermaak waits to tackle him. Glenwood won the epic rugby game 44-40 with plenty of action in the last minute.

thrill-a-minute:Crowd treated to a memorable clash at Goldstones

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