Wednesday Club Column

Nashua Crusaders, celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, cruised through to the semi-finals of the Castle Murray Cup club rugby knockout competition with an emphatic 76-3 victory over a brave First Division outfit Richards Bay that had no answer to the onslaught dished out by the Durban North side.

Also through to the semi-finals are Crusaders' neighbours Varsity College who accounted for Ricoh Maritzburg Collegians, while across the Umgeni in an almost exact replica of last year's final, Jonsson College Rovers, the 2013 champions, beat this year's Fidelity Security Premier Division champions SA Home Loans Durban Collegians in extra time in their grueling quarter-final match at KP 3 on Saturday, thus putting another step forward in retaining the coveted trophy. In the remaining quarter-final match, Amanzimtoti had a good home win beating the luckless FNB UKZN Impi.

With all to play for, the four sides will be looking to claim the trophy donated to the Union by the first President of the KZNRU and founder of the Union, Sir. T.K. Murray way back in 1890, an intriguing battle for glory is on the cards. At the draw on Monday night, Crusaders drew Amanzimtoti and will travel down the South Coast to meet the South Coast Terriers on Friday evening in their semi-final clash, while College Rovers will host Varsity College, with both games scheduled for a 7.30pm kickoff. Their second sides will follow to meet in the semi-finals of the Peter Taylor Trophy Premier Division reserves knockout competition.

Crusaders ran riot against the men from Zululand with express wing Charlie Mayeza leading the try-scoring spree with three of the best. Leading 28-3 at the break and Richards Bay very much on the back foot, Crusaders turned up the heat in the second half with their other tries going to prop Zandre Grobler (2), flank Alwyn Carstens (2), Castle Man of the Match Cohen Wortley, No 8 John Wilsenach, who also slotted a conversion, and flyhalf Cameron Dunlop who also crossed for three tries and converted seven of the tries for a personal tally of 29 points. Flyhalf JP Rossouw kicked the lone penalty for Richards Bay.

College Rovers will be looking at their tenth crown in 11 years after Thanda Zululand Rhinos won the trophy in 2008, breaking their string of consecutive victories. Certainly, after their hard-fought 9-6 win in extra time over their neighbours Durban Collegians, they will now be up for the challenge. Rovers led 6-0 at halftime with two Jors Dannhauser penalties, but in the second session, Duncan Campbell drew matters level with two penalties of his own. So it was with the scores level-pegging on full-time like last year's final, the sides went into extra time, only for Dannhauser to slot the winning points. Rovers' dynamic flanker Chris Cloete was named Castle Man of the Match.

Varsity College had Siso Maseko named Castle Man of the Match in their 46-13 victoty march over Maritzburg Collegians, while down the South Coast, Amanzimtoti looked the part in their 51-21 victory against the vastly-improved students from UKZN Impi, with prop Thinus Volker putting in mammoth performance and scoring three tries for the South Coast Terriers, being named Castle Man of the Match.

In the Junior Murray Cup, Premier Division side Zululand Rhinos will go through to the semi-finals after beating Vryheid 29-10. They will be joined by Newcastle who beat Piet Retief 55-10, Fidelity Security Jaguars who hammered Hillcrest 64-15 and Fidelity Security South Coast Warriors who accounted for Harlequins 37-24. Rhinos now host Newcastle on Saturday in the semi-finals while Jaguars travel to Port Shepstone to face South Coast Warriors, kick-off scheduled for 3pm. Their second stringers follow to challenge for the Keith Parkinson Cup.

There was an intriguing result in the Peter Taylor Trophy knockout Premier Division reserves competition, which saw Rovers going through to the semis after they were level-pegging at 10-all against Durban Collegians at the end of their quarter-final game, with the rule stating that the team scoring the first try shall be deemed the winner. After the weekend results, Rovers will certainly feel that their luck has changed. In the other quarter-finals, Crusaders and Varsity College go through unopposed while Toti beat UKZN Impi 26-22.

The second round of the Findlay Cup will be hosted by Queensburgh who face Kapaailand from Maclear.

L-R: David “Barrel” Clark (Varsity College), Juno Fourie (College Rovers), Sharon Zulch (Toti), Peter Zulch (Toti) and Barry Brown (Crusaders)

Jos Robson