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St george’s college 1st xv rugby tour to Krugersdorp "best of the west" easter rugby festival
By A H Macdonald
Match 1 vs Roodepoort
We had been pitted against three of the better Afrikaans schools this year and knew we had to perform and play to the best of our ability to win.
A big, heavy looking pack and some average size back line players awaited us for our first match. In our first scrum we were pushed off our feet completely! We knew they would play up front with their pack and we held them for a while as they kicked up and unders on the full back and generally came at us in their forwards. Our defence was sound! The first chance we had of moving the ball wide we scored through Chikodzi on the right wing through a well worked move. Torr missed a difficult conversion – Score: 5-0.
We began to assert dominance and missed a few opportunities to put more points on the board before half time. Each time these big boys came at us we held our defence and they were starting to get frustrated. After half time the ref. penalised us for a series of infringements – boring in the scrum; not releasing the ball in a tackle; and the tackler not releasing the player – all interpreted by the Loins referee to be against us. The opposition seemed to get away from diving in off their feet and we started to make some crucial mistakes especially at our own line outs. We created our own pressure and once again had to defend ferociously in our half for +/- 20 minutes. This resulted in a converted try on our own scrum! Score: 5-7. Now the game was on!
We kept our composure and our heads and played sensible rugby where we gained territory back through some good tactical kicking from Torr and then won our major share of line outs and scrums to get within striking distance of their try line. Surtees made no mistake with his snipe around the ruck and sold them his dummy to give Torr an easy kick to go ahead 12-7. We then had a few changes, Mangwana for Mwonzoro and Tande for Nielsen and applied more pressure. We were unlucky not to put more points on the board and our defence was superb and never allowed them to break through again. We did well to hold out for our first win of the season. Ian Surtees was adjudged our Man of the Match by our own coach and players. (He got to wear pink stockings in the next game!)
Match 2 vs Jeugland
This was another tough game against a good side who had a very big and dangerous No. 8 player who posed a huge threat.
It did not take too long for them to put pressure on us and it resulted in their five man line out on our 5m line. Their scrum half joined the line out before the ball was thrown in and before we knew it we were 5-0 down!
However, we struck right back with a great kick off by Torr which was stolen in the air by Chikodzi. He was well supported by the rest of the forwards and we carried it up close to their line again and won quite a few phases to get close to their line where, once again, Surtees darted over making no mistake for a great try near the posts for Torr to convert. Score: 7-5
We again absorbed a lot of pressure from the big pack of forwards and we held them time and again. Their frustration grew and we compensated well by winning a rare tight head scrum which saw us wheel left and gave Gwenzi the chance to pick up and go. He got through quite a few defenders and just off loaded to Mutukwa on the left wing who made some good ground and then used some of his great soccer skills when he chipped ahead of the full back and some cover defence to out strip them all and then judge the bounce to perfection into his arms to score near the posts. Torr converted. Score: 14-5. We continued to dominate up until half time with some tight play and solid defence.
In the second half we started well and a turn over ball in our half would have set us up near their try line if Torr had got a better bounce to find touch. However, it was not to be and we were put under more pressure and lost a crucial line out that gave Jeugland a chance to counter attack and they gained a bit more confidence. We were awarded a short arm penalty for an early engagement by the opposition and Torr tapped and went early (instead of getting out of trouble) and we knocked on and they turned it over and scored a converted try. Score: 14-12.
The game was on again! We came right back at them and very nearly scored again through Surtees. However, patience and slowing the game down to suit us would have been the better option just then. We lost the momentum and they pushed us back again. Just then Surtees took on their big No. 8 and got a knee in his left eye in the tackle and had to leave the field covered in blood. This resulted in 25 stitches and five hours at casualty to make him look almost human again! We conceded another penalty not long after and they edged ahead 15-14 .
We continued to defend madly and a little later three of our players took on another huge attack which saw Acutt get penalised for a dangerous tackle. Even though their player retaliated and was given a yellow card we got the penalty but it still saw Acutt leave the field thus leaving us with 14 players to see out the remainder of the match for +/- 10 minutes.
We were valiant in defence again even with one man short and a few changes helped give fresh legs.
Zinyama had come on for Surtees and then Ganye, Mangwana and Nielsen all came on to bolster a mini come back under extreme pressure to earn us a late penalty under their posts. Torr did not miss. Score: 17-15 and we held on for the last few minutes to clinch a very tense and exciting match. Our Saints spirit and confidence prevailed eventually and Lance Chikodzi was voted our Man of the Match and the right to wear the pink stockings for his brave tackling and scintillating runs.
However, we had to be careful not to let our discipline and our defences drop as the next game would prove to be even harder than this game.
Match 3 vs Volskool Heidelburg
We started this match will all our subs who had so far not had a game. K Manala and S Rashai took over the daunting task of propping against another big, strong and from what we had seen a very physical team. W Voigt partnered D Acutt in the lock position and T Mangwana started at No. 6. N Zinyama started at No. 9 for the injured I Surtees and the untested H Macheke partnered T Tande in the centre. Torr took over as captain and we set to our task of taking on this team which already had a reputation of playing quite ‘dirty’ especially their loose trio.
It took a while to settle down and Mangwana immediately showed his finesse getting an early turnover ball which relieved a bit of early pressure. In true SA tradition a few up and unders tested Mashaya and we were under pressure again from the knock on. Torr, however kept us going forward with some sensible kicking and soon we were rewarded with a penalty. Score: 3-0.
We had the same ref. as the previous game and we were soon penalised for losing the bind in the scrum and suddenly we were under pressure and lost territory again. They missed one penalty attempt close to half time and we again defended our line extremely well. We had the chance to get out of trouble through a rare penalty in our favour but Torr missed touch and they were straight back in our face after a forward pass when we had another run. Eventually we were penalised for holding on and they got the chance to equal the points 3-3 .
Half time saw HlaHla and Gwenzi come back on to give us a better platform to attack. However, again we were penalised for not releasing the ball and they got another penalty – Score: 3-6.
Wave after wave of their relentless attack put us under more pressure – but our tackling held! We had a bit more control and won better ball but either a knock on or turnover prevented us from attacking in their half. A penalty gave us the chance of getting out of trouble but Torr took a quick tap and despite their players not retreating and getting another 10metre penalty we lost the ball and eventually were given another penalty to make the score 3-9.
More changes were put on – Mujeni, Nielsen and Ngangira. This stabilised the situation somewhat and we got more ball. We had a good scrum just in their half and Gwenzi eventually got a pick up and go and he zig zagged and danced his way over for a try handing off quite a few of their players. Torr converted a difficult kick in a bit of wind to sneak ahead 10-9.
Heidleburg then employed some really hard hits and resorted to some of their dirty tactics to put huge pressure on us. The ref. did nothing to stem this blatant ill discipline and the game got very scrappy. Again our defence held, especially at centre and the H Macheke was concussed very badly through a blow to the temple that saw him leave the field. Chiweshe took his place and the game was on. We were penalised time and time again for high tackles, off the ball stuff and they got another kickable penalty. Fortunately the ball sailed wide – still 10-9!
We then, in typical St George’s spirit, counter attacked and looked dangerous. A good move in the centre nearly got us close to scoring again, but it was not to be! Just before the full time whistle we were again penalised in the scrum and Gwenzi never heard the whistle and downed their fly half. Instantly five of the Heldelburg players rushed in, delivering kicks and punches to his body and head. Saints team mates led by Ngangira quickly stopped this wanton indiscipline and despite the efforts of some of our other players Heidelburg continued to show aggression. Not one Saints player retaliated, which showed self discipline and courage. When the ref. eventually blew for full time seven of their players urged on by their coaching staff left the field and refused to shake hands.
Our boys can take a bow for the maturity and high standard of resilience and restraint they showed throughout the match and were deserved winners at 10-9! The Man of the Match for this last game was M Torr, for his great kicking when it counted most! He also controlled the game well at fly half in both defence and attack (when we got the ball!).
What a great start to the season and we can be proud of our achievements. Well done to everyone and thanks must go to Mr B Brider and Mr P Martin for preparing our boys well in the short amount of time they had and of course to the parents for preparing the way forward by supporting the team financially for this tour.
We hope our own injured players – Surtees and Macheke will recover in good time and be available for Cottco or the first league match of the season.
Summary of results:
Vs Roodepoort won 12-7.
Vs Jeugland won 17-15
Vs Volskool Heidelburg won 10-9
Well done to our coach Mr B Brider and all our players on a very spirited and disciplined performance against some bit, strong and robust Gauteng schools and to Kurgersdorp for a very well run and organised tournament.
A H Macdonald
(Sports Director and Manager 1st XV)