Itembelihle became the first winners of the inaugural Mayors Cup competition in the Eastern Province by defeating Solomon Mahlangu by 20-5.
Itembelihle reached the Final by disposing of Hillside High 24-0 in the quarterfinals and Mfesane 64-0 in the semifinals. Solomon Mahlangu defeated Tamsanqa High 17-3 in the other semi final.
Itembelihle won a fiercely contested Final against rivals Solomon Mahlangu from Uitenhage, played in very windy conditions. The game was played at a furious pace with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball. Solomon Mahlangu opted to play a kicking game early on in the game but then found that Itembelihle would run the ball at them from anywhere on the field.
Solomon had an early chance to take the lead, but full back Mcebisi Hini’s kick was well wide of the poles. Itembelihle fly half, Lwandile Dabalele also had an opportunity from the Solomon 10-metre line, but the ball drifted wide.
Itembelihle were first to score when they won quick ruck ball on the Solomon 10m line, the ball went wide to wing Balb Mbangi. When he was cornered he passed inside to flyhalf Dabalele, who was on hand to race over for a try under the poles, which he converted himself.
Itembelihle did all the attacking in the first half, and it was only desperate defence from Solomon and handling mistakes from an over-eager Itembelihle side that saw about three scoring chances go abegging! From one of these moves, centre Ludwe Jack cut straight through but his pass to wing Mbangi who went over for a try, was adjudged forward. Itembelihle turned down several chances of kicking for goal, rather opting to run the ball.
Itembelihle were in control of all aspects of the game in the first half winning several lineout balls from their opponents.
Solomon came out firing in the second half. They used their huge forwards to good effect. Here 2 m lock, Mncedisi Dlwengu and flank Sandile Stokwe, were outstanding. They controlled possession in the second half with lock Dlwengu stealing two vital Itembelihle lineouts.
Itembelihle now had to defend desperately. Then, from turn over ball in their own half, Itembelihle attacked and were rewarded with a penalty on the Solomon 22. Wing Siya Nyalungu slotted the penalty to give Itembelihle a 10-0 lead.
Solomon now began to struggle with Itembelihle’s fast-paced game. Itembelihle attacked from a lineout in their own half. Centre Jack broke strongly and props Bantu Mene and Athenkosi Maswana were prominent in taking the ball up. Then from a ruck on the Solomon 22, scrumhalf Manezi Mtati changed direction and fed lock Sinako Caga who rounded several defenders to dot down next to the poles. Wing Nyalungu converted.
Itembelihle were soon awarded another penalty on the Solomon 22, which Nyalungu calmly slotted for a 20-0 lead. Solomon refused to give up and attacked fiercely in the dying moments and from a penalty on the Itembelihle line, giant lock Dlwengu barged over for an unconverted try, final score 20-5 to Itembelihle.
Outstanding for Itembelihle were props Maswana and Mene, lock Caga, flank Mamparra Sive, flyhalf Dabalele and centre Jack and for Solomon lock Dlwengu and flank Stokwe.
Itembelihle will now prepare for next week’s Alantic Sevens in Uitenhage and both teams will also be playing in the annual Dennis Botha Top 16 schools' Tournament in East Londen from 5-7 October.
By Theo Pieterse
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