L AND Rover Durban-Hillcrest Villagers Rugby Club 1st XV competed in the Castle Murray Cup Knockout Finals, held at Crusaders Rugby Club, in Durban North on Saturday afternoon.
In the Junior Murray Cup Final, Villagers 1st XV came head to head with Zululand Premier Division stalwarts, Empangeni Rhinos.
Rhinos started as favourites, with their Premier Division experienced outfit.
Villagers had however clearly arrived for the game, with one purpose in mind, and that was to retain the converted trophy.
Hillcrest stunned the large crowd with a succession of tries that saw them race into an early lead.
With two successive yellow cards, Villagers had to hold out with fourteen men, against a determined Rhinos, who took full advantage of the situation.
Rhinos clawed their way back into contention, and came within one point of leveling the score.
Ultimately it was the sheer grit and determination, that the boys from Hillcrest are so well known for, that saw them hold off the challenge, win and retain the prestigious trophy, with a final score line of 36-35.
Tries went to: Alex Kleuwinghaus, Gerhard Botha, Brian Lewis, Brandon Waugh and Henkie Groenwald, with Kleuwinghaus kicking four conversations, and a penalty.
In the presentation ceremony, the KZNRU'S Schalk Liebenberg praised Villagers on their win, noting that they had now won the prestigious Knockout Cup, four times since its inception in 1911.
Inspirational Villagers' captain and club "hardman", Brian "Cappy" Lewis, heaped praise on his "boys”, giving them full credit in a hard fought, and "gutsy" performance that truly went down to the wire.
The day proved to be a hugely proud moment for Hillcrest Villagers Rugby Club, who despite retaining the Cup, also last won the trophy successively, in 2001 and 2002 .
- Supplied by Rene Missen