Wednesday Club Column

In what must go down as one of the most successful Castle Club Rugby Finals days in a long while, Amanzimtoti did the unthinkable, winning the Castle Murray Cup knockout competition for the first time in their 67 year history when they beat Varsity College 24-21 in extra time. It was an enthralling encounter in front of the biggest crowd seen at club rugby games this year at the home of Nashua Crusaders, who with great credit, hosted the memorable day in Durban North last Saturday.

What makes the South Coast Terriers victory that more remarkable is the fact that it's all happened in their debut season in the Fidelity Security Premier Division, having just come out of the First Division and finishing fifth in the league behind Varsity College. Their achievement will go down in the record books of the Murray Cup as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition, alongside that of Thanda Zululand Rhinos' victory against Crusaders in 2008. There can be no doubt that the Castle Murray Cup knockout competition has brought out the best in club rugby and one can only hope that days like this can happen more frequently for the club game in years to come. It will go a long way in helping the club game grow and prosper.

The Toti old boys and supporters alike came from near and far to share in the glory and drank from the 124 year old trophy that was donated to the KZNRU by its first President Sir TK Murray in 1890. For Amanzimtoti, it was certainly their finest moment in the history of their club and there can be no doubt that the celebrations went well on into the night and into the wee hours of the morning, and as they say in the classics, It all came together with a Castle.

Toti opened the scoring barely three minutes into the game with a sublime try out wide by centre Louis Joubert and they led 14-6 at the break with their other first half try going to flyhalf Wimpie Pretorious who also converted both touchdowns. Varsity College fullback Darren Nyman slotted two first half penalties. It became a real ding dong battle in the second half with Varsity College fighting their way back into the game with their wing Zaan-Pierre Bezuidenhout scoring their first try of the game to go with a penalty by Nyman, leveling matters 14-all on the final whistle and so taking the game into extra time.

It didn't look good for the South Coast Terriers with Varsity College scoring a try through Waldo Weideman, converted by Nyman on the close of the first 10 minutes into extra time for a 21-14 lead. Toti were not done yet and with great fiery defensive work, fought back bravely, eventually seeing their skipper, wing Corne du Toit, crossing for a try and leaving the score 21-19 and all to play for. It was that man for all seasons, centre Joubert who crossed the whitewash for yet another superb try in the closing minutes of extra time to see the South Coast Terriers home and take the honours and the biggest prize in the history of their club - the Castle Murray Cup.

The Castle Man of the Match award went to Amanzimtoti flanker Sabata Mokachane while the Castle Most Valuable Player of the Competition went to Varsity College loose forward Biselele Tshamala. The way the competition panned out at the end of it all has most certainly been so good for the club game and with Candice Lewis and her Castle Girls from Kickdancing adding the extra entertainment, it was unquestionably a final to remember.

The finals day produced some more wonderfully close and entertaining games, none more so than Fidelity Security Jaguars winning the Junior Murray Cup for the second time in their history, beating Newcastle Highlanders 23-20 in another enthralling game, while Crusaders, celebrating their 50th anniversary, closed off their season on a high after edging out Wylie Cup champions Jonsson College Rovers 41-36 in the Premier Division Reserves Peter Taylor Trophy knockout final and deservedly taking home some silverware.

Jaguars also won the Keith Parkinson Cup final, beating Newcastle Highlanders 41-19 in the biggest winning margin of the day. Keith Parkinson was on hand to hand over the trophy whilst also kindly handing over R1,000 to the team, reawarding them for their efforts. It was also special having the boys from the Drakensberg Rugby Club in Winteton and Kapaailand from Maclear at finals day, with the team from Winterton winning the Third Division Findlay Cup, beating Kapaailand 31-20 in their final. In the opening game of the day, Amabubeshi beat Ogwini Bafana in the Ashley Bowles Cup Under 19 final, so ending their season with the double.

Varsity College have their annual prize giving on Friday evening at their home grounds at Riverside while College Rovers will play Upington in the curtain-raiser to the Absa Currie Cup match between the Cell C Sharks and Griquas at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on Saturday for a place in the 2015 Cell C Community Cup competition.

Jos Robson