Affies triumphed on KwaZulu Natal soil for the second time in the space of a week, after beating Maritzburg College earlier. The 18-9 score line is a good indication of how hard they were made to work for their win with the result decided only inside the last five minutes when centre Jaco Fourie landed a long range penalty to put Affies two scores clear.
Neither side was able to gain a firm foothold on proceedings at any stage during the game. This had little to do with the sticky conditions underfoot brought about by a week of uncharacteristic heavy winter rainfall in Durban. (Here much credit must go to the Glenwood grounds-staff for the excellent condition of the field.) Rather each team’s quest to gain ascendancy was continuously denied by the other’s ferocious tackles and intense challenges at rucks. Despite the overall lack of continuity, the game was filled with many electrifying sequences and moments of individual brilliance.
At the end of the day, the Witbulle emerged as winners primarily because they made better use of the opportunities that came their way. Both their tries crowned off textbook build-up play.
The first try was scored in the third minute when Affies capitalised on a Glenwood error. The boys from Pretoria then worked together and combined all the ingredients of good rugby: strength, skills, correct decision-making, strong carries, swift arriving support at the ruck, pick-and-drive, quick ball to the backs, crisp passing and backs running onto the ball at pace. Perhaps the only part that was not out the manual was lock Janse van Rensburg collecting the ball out wide to run in and score. However, Janse van Rensburg had been instrumental in the build-up and deserved the reward as part of a very good performance along with his second row partner Janus Kirsten on the day.
Just before the half-time break, Affies used a set-piece as the platform for their second try. The clean line-out ball was quickly spread wide and from the next phase prop Luan de Bruin, not wanting to be outdone by fellow prop Pierre Schoeman’s role in the first try, proved his worth in the loose with a meaningful carry and offload that paved the way for big Bernie Roux to exhibit a very impressive and powerful leg drive that enabled him to force his way over.
The teams swapped ends with the score at 15-3. The other points in the half were added by the kickers, Hanco Deale of Affies who succeeded with a penalty and a conversion while Siyabonga Tom of Glenwood landed a solitary penalty.
The Green Machine’s game plan from the start was obvious: stretch Affies as much as possible by using the width of Dixons Field to maximum effect. Their attempts to achieve this produced sparkling running rugby at times. Glenwood’s adventurous backs showed good presence of mind for the better part of the match. They mixed in traditional draw-and-pass techniques with precise-cut out passes to get the ball into the hands of players in wider positions. More often than not, this final recipient gained good ground. Glenwood were seldom able to build on these threatening initial bursts though. The Affies cover defence saw to this. When the Pretoria outfit wasn't forcing ball-carriers over the touchline, they were arriving quickly at the breakdown to vigorously contest newly formed rucks while reorganising their defensive patterns in record time.
The Glenwood line-outs - and there were many of them in this game - also didn't achieve its set goal, resulting in many turnovers. However at no stage did Glenwood heads drop. The home team’s self-belief system showed on the field of play and was soon reflected on the scoreboard in the second half as well. Compliments of two more Tom penalties, they had closed the gap to 15-9 with 20 minutes left to play. Given that Grasshoppers had partly earned their rating as the number 1 team in the province as a result of strong finishes, the home crowd sensed that a victory was within the reach of their fit young side.
However when Glenwood were pinged for hands in the ruck four minutes from time, Fourie took over the kicking responsibility from Deale and ended all hopes of a comeback. By nailing the 40-metre kick, the centre also hammered the nails in the coffin. Affies held on for an 18-9 win and the home team’s fan base where left to ponder about what could have been if one or two things had gone their way.
The Affies Witbulle had once again turned every attempt to create a path to their try-line into a cul-de-sac. It is no mean feat for any school, no matter how good, to make long bus trips down to KwaZulu Natal on successive weekends and then convincingly shut out quality opposition from scoring tries. Apart from winning the game, Affies deserve a lot of credit for this achievement.
Tries: Janse van Rensburg, Bernie Roux
Cons: Hanco Deale
Pens: Hanco Deale, Jaco Fourie
Pens: Siyabonga Tom 3
Glenwood: 15 Lwandile Nthlangulela, 14 Dylan Coulson, 13 Nkululeko Marwana, 12 Dean Moolman, 11 Siyabonga Tom, 10 Unathi Makasi, 9 Mtokosizi Mkhabela, 8 Carel Swart, 7 Wayne Dalton, 6 Brian Potgieter, 5 Bradley Mcneill, 4 Ferdi Horn, 3 Matthew Worral-Clare, 2 Devon Osborne, 1 Niel Oelofse (captain).
Affies: 15 Hanco Deale, 14 Adriaan Oosthuizen, 13 Morne Visser 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Markus Kleinbooi, 10 Nico Lee, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Paul Janse van Rensburg, 7 Bernie Roux, 6 Eital Bredenkamp (captain), 5 Janse van Rensburg, 4 Janus Kirsten, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 De Wet Steenkamp, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
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