Wednesday Club Column
SA Home Loans took another big step towards reclaiming the oldest piece of silverware in World Rugby - the priceless Moor Cup - which they have won more times than any other club in the history of the Fidelity Security Premier Division, when they beat a tenacious Varsity College outfit 34-16 after trailing 16-15 at the break.
Whilst there is that old adage that "itís not over until the fat lady sings," their neighbours and closest rivals Jonsson College Rovers could well rue dropping a valuable log point in only managing a 19-6 victory over Ricoh Maritzburg Collegians at Woodburn in the capital last Friday evening. Rovers who led 19-6 at the break went scoreless in the second half and in fact spent most of the half on the defensive mode and full marks must to the Maritzburg Collegians side for holding the eight time champions so well in the second session.
Durban Collegians eventually won their game after a tough 60 minute battle and with the introduction of Sharks players Fred Zeilinga and Heimar Williams in the second half, their backs looked a lot more fluid, the turning point possibly the try scored by skipper Gary Collins that broke the stranglehold. Collegians got stronger as the game progressed, eventually scoring five tries with three going to the ever-improving wing Kyle Hartley who is now the top try-scorer in the competition. Wing Mynhardt van Schalkwyk and Collins got the other two with Zeilinga converting two and Calvin Sacks slotting a penalty and a conversion.
Rovers, who had Sharks lock Anton Bresler on board, only managed three tries against a pumped-up Maritzburg Collegians side who had former Rovers team-mates Sharks prop Dale Chadwick and utility back Jaco van Tonder, together with prop Wiehahn Herbst in their line-up. Rovers did go into the game without their two key game-makers, fullback Jors Dannhauser and centre Quinton Crocker, but take nothing away from the Maritzburg side they played above themselves. Rovers' fiery flanker Chris Cloete crossed for two tries with the other going to Louis Hazelhurst. For Rovers now, it will be a long, hard road ahead and their true strength of character will be truly put to the test going into the final stretch with four games still to play.
Down at Amanzimtoti, it was the Ryan Kankowski show with the South Coast Terriers going on the rampage beating Thanda Zululand Rhinos 80-0, while last Thursday, Nashua Crusaders had a convincing 77-10 victory march over FNB UKZN Impi at their headquarters at Ranleigh Crescent in Durban North.
In the Premier Division Reserve League, Rovers lead the way, remaining the only unbeaten side in the competition and must surely be odds-on favourites to retain the 109 year old Wylie Cup while their Third XV, although losing 34-23 to Queenburgh at the weekend, still hold top spot on the log table and an opportunity to reclaim the Walker Cup.
In the First Division South Section it is now a battle royale for top honours after Harlequins squeezed out the narrowest of victories against hosts South Coast Warriors, beating the Port Shepstone outfit 14-12, while Land Rover Durban Hillcrest put the cat amongst the pigeons beating Jaguars 26-19. Richards Bay, also pretenders to the crown, had a postponement against Westville Old Boys while UKZN Durban beat Ballito Dolphins 32-0.
In the North Section, the battle for top honours is also going down to the wire with Vryheid, Newcastle Highlanders and Piet Retief fighting it out for ultimate glory.