Wednesday Club Column
Amanzimtoti have made history for themselves by making it all the way through to the Castle Murray Cup final for the first time in their 67 year history after comprehensively beating Nashua Crusaders 27-17 in the semi-final at the home of the South Coast Terriers.
The club, founded just after the Second World War in 1947, has come a long way since those days. Although the late Thys van Aken, an iconic figure in the club game in the 60's and 70's at Toti and Pinetown, did mention before his sad passing that the origins of Amanzimtoti go back to the late 20's under another name, there are no records on hand to prove as such.
But it now matters not as they have made their community proud this season and once again in front of a big crowd and band of wonderful local supporters, they produced the goods to set up their first ever opportunity of taking home a major trophy, the priceless Murray Cup donated to the KZNRU by their first President Sir TK Murray way back in 1890. Needles to say, there can be no doubt that many of the past legends of Toti, some with us and some gone, will be there in spirit to see their old club do battle and and among them for sure will be van Aken and his old mate Arthur Greening, while across in Australia one Lester Green will be waiting in anticipation for the result.
The South Coast Terriers will be facing Varsity College who were full value for their 24-19 win over Jonsson College Rovers on KP 3, last year's winners of the cup, so knocking out the runners-up in this year's Fidelity Security Premier Division league in what has been an intriguing race for top honours. When one considers that the fourth and fifth placed sides in the league will be now battling it out for Murray Cup glory, with the top three sides in the league - SA Home Loans Durban Collegians, Rovers and Crusaders - having been knocked out, it certainly has been a good result overall for the club game in the province.
Toti scored four tries to two against their visitors from Durban North with Sharks hooker Monde Hadebe crossing the line together with their other try scorers Louis Joubert, Richard Shore and Thinus Volke, a prop who is fast being recognised as player with huge potential. Their 19 year old No 8 Brad Lange, another youngster that should be looked at, put in a five star performance to be named Castle Man of the Match.
Varsity College survived huge pressure from Rovers at the end of their game, holding off the eight time champions' last minute surge to claim a memorable victory. They last won the trophy back in 1997 as DHS Old Boys with Sharks and Springbok wing Cabous van de Westerhuizen scoring the winning try. The club, although having claimed silverware at Under 20 level and in the lower leagues, have yet to have had their name engraved on any trophies in the Premier Division competitions, so for them, it also all to play for.
They will feel rather buoyant about their chances in the final, especially after scoring four tries to one against Rovers in the semis with Kayde Fisher, skipper Paul Sanders, Kwezi Mona and Biselele Tshmalala crossing for tries and Edward Wiggill converting two. The Varsity College lose trio were out standing, so it came as little surprise that flanker Tshmalala was named Castle Man of the Match.
Rovers' wing Jonge Nokwe scored their lone try with Jors Dannhauser slotting four penalties and a conversion.
In the Junior Murray Cup, both semi-finals were closely contested with 2014 Dewar Shield First Division champions Newcastle edging out Thanda Zululand Rhinos 20-15 at Mick Kelly Park in Empangeni, while down in Port Shepstone, the two sides sponsored by Fidelity Security did battle with Jaguars squeaking home 15-12 against South Coast Warriors, setting up an intriguing final for the title, which Jaguars have won on one occasion while the Highlanders will be looking at taking home the trophy for the first time in their history.
Rovers will play hosts Crusaders for the top honours in the Wylie Cup final for the Premier Division reserve league teams after disposing of Varsity College in a convincing 38-17 victory. Crusaders beat Toti 33-5 in the other semi-final to find their way through to the final.
Newcastle accounted for Rhinos 33-22 in the semi-final of the Keith Parkinson Cup and will meet Jaguars in the final after they beat South Coast Warriors 25-20. It will be another intriguing encounter when two little known sides, Drakensberg from Winterton face Kapaailand from Maclear, meet in the final of the Findlay Cup after Kapaailand disposed of Queensburgh 44-10 last Saturday.
With the Castle finals' day being hosted by Crusaders at Ranleigh Crescent on Saturday, starting with Amabubeshi up against Ogwini Bafana at 10.30 am contesting the Ashley Bowles final, there should be a feast of club rugby for all to enjoy.
The Club will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with a dinner at the Greek Hellenic Centre in Durban North on Thursday evening.