The end of a great season

2013-06-25 00:00

The rugby season for all schools, except Glenwood and Maritzburg College, came to an end with two games played last week.

The postponed match between Kearsney and College took place on Thursday, while the return fixture between Hilton and Michaelhouse was played on Saturday.

Kearsney 22 Maritzburg College 14

Neither side was full strength with Kearsney missing the Du Preez twins — lock Dan and flank Jean-Luc — and College still missing four players after their flu epidemic and injuries after the Westville match, which included two Craven week players, centre Marcel Coetzee and wing Banele Ngwenya, and their other speedster wing, Lindo Ngcobo. The match will best be remembered for the physicality of the forward packs.

After the disappointing performance last weekend against Westville, College came out with a tighter game with powerful forward play. They capitalised in the fifth minute with a penalty converted by Jordan Koekemoer, but Kearsney struck back when flyhalf Tristan Tedder dived over after some good work by the forwards. Tedder added the two extra points for the home side to lead 7-3.

Koekemoer kicked his second penalty five minutes later to close the gap. College’s forwards employed a number of pick and drives to put Kearsney under much pressure, eventually scoring through Darren Goodsen to put College 11-7 up.

Kearsney were not behind for long and from a scrum, Matt Reece-Edwards fed Tedder, who accelerated through a gap, showing great pace, to outsprint all the defenders and score his second try next to the left- hand upright. He again converted to take back a 14-11 lead, which they held to the half-time whistle.

College were awarded a penalty, which Koekemoer converted to draw level at 14-14. Kearsney played a tactically better second half and Tedder slotted a drop goal from close range to regain the lead of 17-14. The hosts created more opportunities and only a resolute defence kept the attackers from converting.

Eventually fullback Chris Lines broke the line from a line-out and chipped the ball over the fullback for an exciting chase, which Kearsney gathered. Lock Mitch du Toit scored by diving over for Tedder to convert. With eight minutes remaining, College kept Kearsney pinned in their own half and two definite thrusts for the tryline were halted by resolute Kearsney defence.

The main difference in the game was mercurial flyhalf Tedder, with his 17 points, to give Kearsney an unbeaten run in the province and end a great season with just one loss, against Paarl Gym.

Their defence over the season has been tremendous and other than the five tries scored by Paarl Gym, they only conceded another seven tries in the 15 other games played.

M ichaelhouse 34 Hilton 43

This was a great match to end the season, although at half-time it looked as if Hilton would again have another run-away victory. Credit must go the home side, who with some tactical changes ignited a remarkable come-back. It was an exciting finish with a second half that thrilled all of the close to 9 000 surrounding Meadows on a cool winter’s afternoon.

If it had not been for the two tries scored by Hilton catching Michaelhouse by surprise, both within the first minute after the beginning of the game and then again after the half-time kick off, Michaelhouse could well have won the game.

Pace by wing Jaeger Richmond saw him dive over in the corner as he scored the first try. Michaelhouse came back with a penalty from far out by Michael Bouwer. Cameron Wright then added two penalties for Hilton for the visitors to lead 11-3. Hilton were dominating possession and making the most of the attacking moves, while Michaelhouse battled to get out of their half as they had to make most of the tackles.

Bouwer closed the gap with his second penalty, but from a characteristically high kick from Wright’s kick-off. Two mistakes by Michaelhouse led to flank Rob Baldwin scoring and the conversion put Hilton into an 18-6 lead, which Wright extended to 21-6 before half-time.

From another high kick-off by Wright, Michaelhouse made the mistake of allowing the ball to bounce favourably for Matt Dickerson, who gathered and again scored in the corner, with Wright converting from the touchline. This stimulated the home side to keep the ball tight, making a number of attempts to score. But the defence was up to the task, keeping the whitewash clean.

With most of the home side on attack, a break-out by Hilton allowed replacement wing Patrick Bartlett to sprint down the left touchline to score and put his side 33-6 ahead.

With 15 minutes remaining, it was Michaelhouse who scored three tries after good forward play. The first came from prop Farai Mudariki, who drove over from a quickly taken tap penalty close to the line. Bouwer scored the second and then centre Ciaran Furniss scored through a gap created by another quick tap penalty.

Wright added a penalty and then converted the try scored by number eight Marc van Wymeersch to bring Hilton to a 43-27 lead. Finally, within the last minute, Jason Schwegmann rounded off a move from the home side to score in the corner, and with Bouwer again successful, Michaelhouse went down 34-43 in a particularly entertaining second half.

This gave Hilton the double, winning both encounters in 2013 and ending a favourable season.

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