Wednesday Club Column

Jonsson College Rovers will meet Telnet Crusaders in the final of the Castle Murray knockout competition next Saturday after Rovers accounted for Acer Durban Collegians beating their neighbours 33-6 in the opening semi-final at Riverside on Friday evening, while Telnet Crusaders disposed of Waterstone Thanda Zululand Rhinos, narrowly beating the side from Empangeni 20-13.

Rovers, who will be hoping to secure their fourth consecutive double, will clearly start out as favourites after making short work of closest rivals and runners-up in the Fidelity Security Premier Division league, Collegians, and by the Moor Cup champions own admission, they weren't anywhere near playing at at their best in the first half, with Collegians holding them well in and it was only a late try by Rovers centre Kobus de Kock that separated the two sides at the break with the 2011 title holders holding a narrow 13-6 lead.

In the second half Rovers were a lot more cohesive and a sensational intercept try by the game's Castle Man of the Match, selected by former Springbok loose forward AJ Venter, wing Jors Dannhauser, really started the demise of the brave Collegians challenge with the holders of the 122 year old trophy slowly but surely grinding their way to yet another victory. Dannhauser went on to score 18 points with two conversions and three penalties to go with his try while De Kock added another conversion with their hugely-talented utility back Neil de Bruin adding a superb drop goal and centre Nick Jackson scoring the final try in the closing minutes.

The Collegians line-up were understandably a little frustrated with some of the calls that went against them. In the end they were beaten by a far better side with their points coming from two penalties from flyhalf Ruan Allerton.

In the other semi-final, Crusaders edged out Rhinos in a much closer and hard-fought contest that could well have gone either way, but eventually saw the side from Durban North outscoring the 2008 Murray Cup Zululand champion side by two tries to one. It was a match that saw Saders back in the mix after nearly collapsing altogether at the beginning of the season. Certainly there was undoubtedly joy all round for their most ardent supporters who were very vocal on the night and one has to give them credit to come back bravely and with aplomb to survive one of their toughest seasons in living memory.

Their tries came from hooker Zandre Grobelaar and scrumhalf Kegan Sloman with fullback Armand Botha kicking two penalties and two conversions. Rhinos replied with a try from Karli Schulze and two penalties and a conversion from flyhalf Sello Sekhyala. Crusaders prop Ronnie Uys was named Castle Man of the Match in this semi-final.

In the Peter Taylor trophy Premier Division Reserves knockout competition Rovers winners of the Wylie Cup beat Collegians 43-12 in their semi-final game will be looking at retaining the double when they face Crusaders in the final after they beat Rhinos 49-38 in the second semi-final.

Ricoh Maritzburg Collegians had a narrow 20-17 win over FNB UKZN Maritzburg in the Junior Murray Cup knockout and will travel to Durban to face Newcastle Highlanders at finals day at Riverside next Saturday. Piet Retief pulled out of the semiís allowing the Highlanders the opportunity of contesting the final in the hope of winning some KZNRU silverware for the first time in their history.

Rovers will contest another knockout final when they face Fidelity Security Jaguars in the final of the Under ĎBí. Finals day will start at 11 am on Saturday morning.

- Jos Robson