Crusaders victorious in hard fought battle

Marshall Security Crusaders had to dig deep to fend off a courageous fight-back from Varsity College RFC to win 34-24 in the Fidelity Security Moor Cup on the weekend. It was a tale of two halves but in the end Crusaders held their nerve to score a bonus point victory which made it three wins on the trot for them.

Crusaders came storming out the blocks and raced into a 24-0 lead in the heavy rain. They scored four tries in 30 minutes through captain Ronnie Uys, Mark du Preez, Andrew van Tonder and Dale Farnham. Their forwards were in devastating form in the slippery and difficult conditions and there looked to be only one team in the contest.

Varsity College managed to restore some parity as they scored a try from winger JP Bezuidenhout shortly before half-time to give them a glimmer of hope. The try was converted by Henk La Grange as Crusaders took a 24-7 half-time lead.

Varsity College coach, Sam Vermaak, must have had some harsh words for his team during the interval and it clearly showed. His team came out rejuvenated in the second half and mounted a determined comeback. They scored two further converted tries from Kurt Mavrodaris and TC Khoza and a 60th minute penalty from La Grange saw the match tied at 24-24 heading into the final quarter.

The game was on a knife-edge after a dramatic turnaround. More drama was to follow later on as the Varsity College captain Paul Sanders was yellow carded. This provided the spark for Crusaders and they fought back with a late penalty and a try from T Moloi to eventually run out 34-24 winners.

Crusaders coach, Loedewyk Riekert, was delighted with the hard fought victory.

"We played very well in the first half and were dominant up front," he said afterwards. "The guys definitely lost their concentration and we allowed Varsity back into the game. Five points under difficult conditions like this is excellent."

His counterpart, Sam Vermaak, expressed his disappointment after such a courageous comeback. "The guys felt intimidated in the opening few minutes and allowed Crusaders to dominate. This resulted in a disastrous first half. I got stuck into the boys at half-time and we showed character to make a game of it in the second half. It was a young forward pack but they will learn."

Elsewhere, the championship favourites are beginning to take a stranglehold on the league. The defending champions Jonsson College Rovers continued with their demolition process as they defeated FNB Ukzn Impi 57-5. It was another impressive and convincing display from Rovers which keeps them top of the log.

Breathing down their necks are fellow title-contenders SA Home Loans Durban Collegians who defeated Ricoh/Motswako Pmb Collegians 47-5 at Woodburn. The derby victory ensures that Durban Collegians remain in the title race just behind Rovers.

In the basement battle, Oxford Wentworth Harlequins overcame Zululand Rhinos 20-11 in a tightly-contested affair. It was a much needed first victory for the Bluff outfit.

Ismail Adam