Wednesday Club Column

SA Home Loans Durban Collegians pulled off one of their more famous victories in a number of years when they edged out the 2013 Moor Cup title holders and eight times Fidelity Security Premier Division champions Jonsson College Rovers 13-11 in a tense pressure game that only saw two tries scored in the match and which could have gone either way. After a hugely successful reign, Rovers knew that this would be a tough year after losing top players to the Varsity Cup over the last three years and this result perhaps did them more good than harm as they start to rebuild and regroup for the rest of the season. Certainly with the pressure off them now one can expect a rejuvenated side expressing themselves, for when they click, they can be irrepressible.

The game, played in front of one of the better crowds seen at the hosts' home grounds on KP 3 this season, was riddled with errors from both sides to start with and whilst the Rovers' backs looked a lot more dangerous in the first half, they failed to finish with some unfortunate handling errors. The Collegians pack were clearly aware that they had to go all out to starve the dangerous Rovers' backs of clean ball, but were met with strong opposition from their hosts' tight five who challenged them up front. There were some wonderful sniping runs by Jors Dannhauser and Jonge Nokwe that came to nothing and one couldn’t help but think that Rovers would suddenly break the shackles, but sadly for them, it didn’t happen. Rovers flank Chris Cloete opened the scoring with a try followed by a penalty from Dannhauser.

It certainly wasn’t pretty and with Collegians enjoying territorial advantage' the pressure must have got to starting flyhalf Duncan Campbell who surprisingly missed some easy opportunities at poles in the first half and it looked as though Rovers were going to hold on and take the honours after leading 8-0 at the break. It wasn’t to be, with the second half belonging to Collegians, with their try going to flank Francois Kleynhans left of the upright after capitalising on a bad Rovers handling error and with Calvin Sachs having taken over the kicking duties from Campbell, the game was on. With sheer traditional Durban Collegians SOB, the visitors fought their way to their famous victory after a Chris Micklewood drop-goal had cancelled out an earlier Sacks' penalty, leaving Rovers 11-10 in front only for Sacks to respond once again putting Collegians 13-11 in front.

As the seconds ticked away, Rovers put in one more dangerous surge down the left hand touch line, which looked like a certain try but a Collegians hand got in the way of the final pass, leaving Micklewood with the chance of taking the game with a last gasp penalty that sadly went just right of the upright, giving Collegians a truly emotional and well-deserved victory. The only consolation for Rovers was the fact their second and third stringers had good wins against their arch-rivals, winning their games 33-9 and 34-15 respectively, leaving them on top of the Third Division Walker Cup competition after Pinetown went down 13-8 to Varsity College.

In the other Premier Division games, Nashua Crusaders lost out on a valuable log point when the scored a three try 24-19 win over Amanzimtoti, while Varsity College accounted for FNB UKZN Impi 31-24 and Ricoh Motzwako Maritzburg Collegians had a good away win, beating Thanda Zululand Rhinos 43-11 at Mick Kelly Park in Empangeni.

In the First Division South Section, Richards Bay extended their lead on top of the log table with an emphatic 69-0 win over UKZN Durban after Jaguars caused another upset beating Harlequins 23-14 out on the Bluff. In the other games, Westville Old Boys beat Ballito Dolphins 50-12, while up at Shongweni, home side Hillcrest narrowly lost out lost out to South Coast Warriors, going down 26-24.

In the North Section there is a big three way tussle for top honours between Newcastle Highlanders, Piet Retief and Vryheid with very little separating them.

In the Basil Medway Under 20 ‘A’ Knockout competition, Varsity College will meet College Rovers in the final after Rovers beat Crusaders 28-0 and Varsity College, with a much tougher encounter, beat Durban Collegians 23-14. The Final will be played at Crusaders 1 on Friday evening with the game scheduled for an 6.30pm kickoff while the DW Geddie Under 20 ‘B’ Knockout final will start at 8pm on Crusaders 2

Jos Robson