Disappointing Loss for Impi

UKZN Impi suffered a disappointing 17-12 loss at their home ground against the University of Fort Hare in their Varsity Shield clash on the Howard College campus on Monday night.

One thing to be said about Varsity rugby is the fact that there is no shortage of spirit and the cheers and support for the players was emphatic. The teams ran out onto the field to great fan-fare and applause following the cheer-leading and Impi warriors getting the crowd into the mood.

Early points from the boot of flyhalf Brandon Cope set the scene for an exciting game, but it was sadly not a portent of things to come. There is plenty of potential in this side and given time to gel and for Head coach John Mitchell to mould the team, they will get the results.

Their early dominance paid off when a strong scrum effort allowed captain, flanker Lwazi Ngcungama to flop onto the loose ball in the in-goal area for the opening try of the game. The conversion was good and they were 10-nil up.

UFH flyhalf Oliver Zono finally got matters going when he kicked his team's first points at the start of the second quarter to get his enthusiastic side on the scoreboard.

Their confidence up, the visitors capitalised on three quick-fire lapses in concentration from the home side before the flyhalf was able to exploit a gap and ghost through to score a good try. He converted and the teams were evens.

The kickers traded penalties and the teams went into halftime 12-apiece with the game evenly poised.

The game remained deadlocked for a good 20 odd minutes before 'Blues' right wing Shayne Makombe dived over in the corner to put his team into a five point lead with just a handful of minutes remaining.

A critical error by his team's fullback could have ruined the party for the visitors when he dropped the ball in his 22 to set up a thrilling finale to the match and the opportunity to grasp the win.

Unfortunately, handling let the home team down and their final push for a match winner went unrewarded.

Michael Marnewick