Top SA rugby schools provide festival thrills

2010-04-03 00:00

THE first day of the Blythedale Coastal Resort Kearsney Rugby Festival provided spectators with some great rugby. Throughout the day, the main stand was filled with supporters, who enjoyed some top-class action.

Kearsney started the festival with a bang, scoring nine tries, five converted, and a penalty in the first few minutes, for a 58-5 win against the eLan Invitation XV.

The more fancied Marais Viljoen then played Upington and with 15 minutes remaining in the game the teams were locked at 14-all with two goals apiece. The pace and the long journey from Upington got to the visitors as Marais Viljoen scored a penalty and two more converted tries to win 31-14.

The crowd had visibly swollen when the main drawcard of the festival, South Africa’s top school team in 2009, Grey College, took the field against the “Rooi Bulle” from Gauteng, EG Jansen. They were not disappointed by a side that again looks to be one of the better teams in 2010.

EG Jansen initially looked unsure of themselves, perhaps overawed by the occasion, as they came close to scoring a couple of times in the first half. Grey were slick, did everything at pace, worked the ball wide and created space for the runners to use effectively. Their defence was well organised with good communication, which ensured opposition players were covered and hardly missed a tackle.

Three tries in the first half was followed by another four in the second, giving Grey a 47-0 win. Some individual names to note, although the side worked superbly together: firstly flyhalf Johan Goosen, who made a number of tries, scored two himself and converted six of the tries; eighth man Neil Jordaan, weighing 104 kg and 1,9 m tall, who was as good on attack as he was on defence; and speedster Ruwellyn Isbell on the wing, who will score many tries this year.

Selborne showed some neat touches and looked to have the game against Nico Malan from Humansdorp sewn up with a 20-3 lead at the break. Nico Malan came back with a penalty and a converted try shortly after play resumed, but Selborne fullback Joshua van Rooyen made certain of a win with two penalties to give his side a 26-13 win.

The final match of the day was the much anticipated clash between Glenwood and Monument.

Glenwood struggled in the tight phases against a heavy pack of forwards weighing close to 800 kg, the heaviest being lock Paul Willemse at 135 kg and 1,97 m.

Glenwood scored the first try when wing Reece Jefferies dived over in the corner after a good run down the touchline. Monument flyhalf Marais Schmidt had slotted two penalties for the Krugersdorp side to lead 6-5. Just on half-time, scrumhalf Hanco Venter scored a controversial try from a kick ahead and it appeared from the stands that he had not had downward pressure on the ball. The conversion from the touchline was successful for a 13-5 lead at the break.

There was no inch given as Glenwood put their bodies on line to prevent the waves of attack from penetrating their defences.

Two further penalties by Schmidt, the last from 55 metres, put Monument into a 19-5 lead, and gradually the tackles Glenwood had to put in took their toll. From a ruck, Venter went over for his second try, again converted, for a 26-5 win.

Clearly the two top sides, Grey and Monument, will meet in the main game on Monday afternoon to bring the festival to a fitting climax. Today the fixtures begin early, as the teams are going to support the Sharks against the Reds this evening in the Shark Tank.

RESULTS IN BRIEF: Kearsney 58 eLan XV 5; Marais Viljoen 31 Upington 14; Grey College 47 EG Jansen 0; Penzance 13 Thomas More Primary 12; Selborne 26 Nico Malan 13; Monument 26 Glenwood 5

FIXTURES TODAY: 08:00 Selborne vs eLan Invitation; 09:15 Monument vs Upington; 10:30 Glenwood vs Marais Viljoen; 11:45 EG Jansen vs Nico Malan; 13:15 Highbury vs Westville Prep; 14:00 Kearsney vs Grey College.

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