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SAA National Club Champs

Third Time Lucky for Rovers

Jonsson College Rovers finally succeeded in their third final at the SAA Club Champs when they downed Maties 24-15 in a tightly-contested final in Stellenbosch on Friday afternoon.

Centre Jerome Pretorius was the hero for his team, scoring both tries – the second a well-timed recipient of bad hands by the opposition in the second half with an intercept that would ultimately wrestle control back into his team's favour after having conceded the lead they had held for much of the game.

The ascendancy of the game ebbed and flowed as both teams enjoyed periods of dominance throughout, and right until a late drop-goal from flyhalf Wesley Dunlop to extend the lead to nine points which would make it an unassailable margin, the game hung in the balance.

When Pretorius scored, together with the conversion, the lead was just nine points but plenty of time remaining. Maties struck another penalty soon thereafter to reduce the deficit to six points which would make for an extremely interesting final quarter of the game. The drop-goal however proved to be the winner as the pressure was off and Maties then had to accept defeat as the game was well and truly wrapped up.

Rovers were up 6-0 with two penalties after Maties scored the first of their two tries, but Pretorius' first try took his side into an 11-5 lead at the break. However, Maties scored the first try of the second half to take a 12-11 lead with half an hour's play remaining before Dunlop kicked his third penalty to retake the lead. Then came the intercept try which would ultimately kill off Maties' challenge.

Jody Jenneker, playing at flank instead of his customary hooker position carried the ball up well and was a constant thorn in the opposition side, but certainly this was a team effort that stood up well on defence – which was probably the difference between the two sides as Maties seemed to hold the upper hand as far as the possession stakes counted. But pressure on defence forces errors and that's exactly what happened, allowing Rovers to alleviate the pressure when it told, and then strike back from there.

Rudi Keil was again very involved in play both on attack and defence, his experience helping to provide a calmness needed in a final.

Captain Chris Jordaan was named Man of the Match while Jody Jenneker was deserved awarded the Forward Player of the Tournament. Maties players wrapped up the other two awards, Jonathan Frank named Back of the Tournament and captain Lourens Adriaanse, the Player of the Tournament.

Adriaanse said afterwards, “Well done to College Rovers, they took their chances. They showed that with good ball possession, any team can win this tournament.”

Chris Jordaan, in accepting the trophy said, “We've worked so hard for this and wanted it so much.”

Jerome Pretorius scored two tries while Wesley Dunlop succeeded with a conversion, three penalties and a drop-goal.