UKZN Impi take no prisoners

2013-01-29 00:00

DRIVING rain, a sopping wet rugby ball, a battle against the wind in the first half and a supreme effort after the last strategy break earned 2012 also-rans the University of KwaZulu-Natal Impi an outstanding 19-7 victory over last year’s nemesis, the University of Fort Hare Blues.

It was a gripping battle of brawn and wits at Peter Booysen Sports Park in Pietermaritzburg late yesterday afternoon.

The Impi led 8-7 at half-time after establishing an 8-0 lead. Their five-pointers came from a try by fullback and vice-captain Jeandre Small amid a scrum of outstretched bodies in the first half and a touchdown by replacement lock Gerrit Fourie, who found time to get out on to the right wing after that crucial on-field team strategy session that took place before the action-packed finale.

Impi flyhalf Carl Meyer kicked the initial conversion and it was most impressive how the Impi closed out the game towards the end.

Cool-headed replacement back and place-kicker Jaco Potgieter took advantage of the enormous work his pack of forwards had produced in tiring the Blues out and forcing them into making damaging errors, when he stepped up to steer three penalty-goal chances between the posts.

Each side showed tremendous commitment as both were aware how vital it is to get off to a winning start in this pressure-cooker competition and how difficult it is to recover in what is an intense and unforgiving campaign.

The Impi travel to Pretoria to play Tshwane University of Technology on Thursday before their third bruising match in eight days takes place at the Peter Booysen Sports Park next Monday at 7 pm, this front-up being against Bloemfontein’s Central University of Technology.

The Impi lost both times to the Blues last season, but yesterday saw the lads from UKZN do to others what others had done to them in 2012.

The Pietermaritzburg-based side, under head coach Shawn van Rensburg and captain and number eight Andre Greyvenstein, controlled the match, outmuscled their opponents, played in the areas of the field they wanted to play in, and played the brand of rugby they wanted to play.

Man of the match was Impi scrumhalf Zander Engelbrecht, who initiated some sniping breaks among the effective plays he made for his team.

Also notable was that UKZN were without four hookers, and prop Senzo Ngubane and his substitute, Richard Sakhile, stepped into the breach to do the job remarkably well.

A big challenge for Van Rensburg is going to be how to manage his players over the next seven days and two matches.

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