Rovers Crowned 2012 Starlite Trophy Winners

Jonsson College Rovers Under 19s defeated Bluff Superspar Harlequins Under 19s 26-20 at Mr Price KINGS PARK on Saturday afternoon to wrest the Starlite Under 19 Trophy from the 2011 champs.

Rovers Under 19s enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in the opening exchanges, before things evened up a little, but only for a short time before they built up a strong lead, only to see Harlequins Under 19s strike back and threaten an upset.

A fantastic turn of speed from athletic lock Louis Hazelhurst saw him fend off the desperate defence to score his team's opening try on the quarter hour, converted by scrumhalf Donovan O'Grady, although their joy would have been short-lived, a committed effort from Quins saw them come close two or three times, before a good driving maul saw hooker Bertus Linde taken over the tryline. The conversion was unsuccessful but it certainly alerted Rovers to the fact that they were in for a tough ride.

Rovers had a few opportunities themselves, but found the Quins defence up for the task as they managed to avoid a couple of close calls. However, after such a good effort on defence, they were let down by some very ordinary tackling to allow flank Schalk van der Merwe to score under the sticks, affording O'Grady the easiest of conversions as the half-time whistle went, Rovers leading 14-5.

Louis Hazelhurst showed serious pedigree as he handed off one player after the next and a acceleration to elude the defences to push Rovers further ahead shortly into the second half, the conversion stretching the lead to 16 points.

Quins weren't quite out of it yet, some great interplay and handling saw Armandt Peens finish off a great move, and taking the conversion, he somehow managed to strike it under the crossbar from right in front to reduce the deficit to 11 points.

However, the result looked to be put out of doubt when Rovers outside centre Brad Elise scored his team's fourth try to take the lead back to 16 points with a good 25 minutes of the match remaining.

However, Quins refused to retreat and struck back with a good effort from scrumhalf Bokie Carstens, with Peens again not managing to clear the crossbar. It was third time unlucky as another try, this time to fullback Dillion Hooker also went converted with the margin now just six points. Quins had a gilt-edged opportunity to win the game, but perhaps shouldn't have opted to kick to touch on penalty advantage, losing the lineout when a tap and go may have earned them better reward.

Ultimately, Rovers win came off a great team-effort with some individual play putting them in charge of the game, while Quins didn't look quite as fluid on attack, although they didn't lack heart in a game where they could have been a real danger had they clung to their opportunities a little better.

It was a highly-entertaining game though, a fitting final that could have gone either way.

Michael Marnewick