The Castle Murray Cup club rugby knockout competition got off to a rollicking start with the new format turning out to be a huge success with the introduction of the First Division sides in the opening qualifying round of the competition. There can be no doubt that with the game having been taken to the outlying it areas, has certainly revived the enthusiasm for the club game.
The biggest turn up for the books was South Coast Warriors surprising Premier Division club side ChemSpec Jaguars with a narrow 18-17 victory, giving every indication that this format should be here to stay as it definitely lifted the game of the underdogs in First Division and brought the spectators to the venues.
The 2009 champions Jonsson College Rovers opened their campaign in the most emphatic way, running riot over a never-say-die Hillcrest outfit at Shongweni, thumping the luckless Villagers 99-7. What a day it was with the Castle Showgirls from Hooters performing with every try being scored, which turned out to be quite a tiring afternoon for them with Rovers scoring 15 tries to the one from Hillcrest.
Rovers centre Jerome Pretorius who was named Castle man of the match and received cheque for R500 - another innovative addition to the competition - fullback Wesley Dunlop and wing Anton Verster led the try scoring spree with two each. The other tries came from wing Gareth McRae, flank Kosie Haarhof, lock Anton Bresler, centre Chester Koyano, No 8 Eric Ngoie, prop Roy Godfrey, hooker Jody Jenniker and flyhalf Stuart Hudson who slotted the balance of the points with his boot to go with the final conversion from Jenniker.
Full marks to Hillcrest - they didnít lie down and in fact looked pretty useful in the first 20 minutes or so with centre Keegan Jones scoring their only try and looking a pretty useful player that actually would not look out of place in Premier Division. Certainly he showed great tenacity on defence while no 8 Johan van Wyk also stood out in a side going backwards. Flyhalf Gavin Scott kicked the conversion to conclude their scoring.
In the other games Acer Durban Collegians had a slightly tougher game in beating Amanzimtoti 52-15 while Envirosan Old Boys had the long haul to Piet Retief and returning home with a 42-14 win over their hosts. Airtron Harlequins traveled to Ladysmith to beat the home side 54-0 and Foton Maritzburg Varsity beat their neigbours Gestetner Maritzburg Collegians in the capital at Woodburn Stadium 31-16, while Thanda RZA Zululand Rhinos traveled up the line to Vryheid to win their opener 38-20. In the remaining game Goss and Balfe Crusaders beat Teichmann Bell Dolphins 66-20.
The quarter-finals will be played on Friday evening with Rovers hosting Rhinos on KP3, Crusaders entertain Harlequins, Old Boys will be at home to South Coast Warriors and Durban Collegian face Varsity on their home grounds at KP 10. The Peter Taylor Trophy quarter final games between the same sides will also be played on Friday evening at the same venues.
Jaguars will now go on to face Amanzimtoti in the quarter final of the Junior Murray cup on their home grounds in Sydenham while Maritzburg Collegians will host Hillcrest and Vryheid will entertain Ladysmith on Friday evening and Ballito Dolphins will travel to Piet Retief to meet the meet the locals there on Saturday.
Harlequins will host the next round of the Starlite Aviation Under 19 Cup tonight (Wednesday) with Rovers facing Old Boys at 6pm and Collegians will face home side Harlequins at 7.30pm.