Wednesday Column

Thanda Empangeni couldn’t have wished for a better start to their 2011 Under 20 ‘A’ Division campaign and have certainly raised a few eyebrows with three outstanding games in the opening rounds of the Frank Norris Trophy competition.

Their most recent performance against Jonsson College Rovers was a revelation. The Zululand side trailed 15-19 at the break with their hosts having scored three tries to their five penalties. Then with Rovers turning into the second half with the wind at their backs it was understandable that their most ardent supporters thought it would be an easy canter home-but it was not to be as Empangeni looking a lot more structured and hungrier to win there was only going to be one side to come away with the spoils and it certainly wasn’t Rovers.

Empangeni completely dominated proceedings in the second session scoring three tries of their own and ending up blowing Rovers away eventually taking the honours 39-19. Now, whilst there may have been a number of dodgy calls by the referee in the game, Rovers who were the top Under 20 club side during the last decade cannot take anything away from the lads from Zululand as it was a polished performance of the highest order. They are not going to be an easy side to beat that is for certain and from a Rovers perspective, well they are definitely not going to lie down and die either-they will be back with vengeance.

What will be of concern to Rovers however is the fact that their second stringers also went down to the Zululand ‘B’ side-so much for the myth that Rovers and Acer Durban Collegians get all the players sent to them by the Sharks Academy.

The Zululand side’s closest rivals, at this point, Durban Collegians have also looked good in their two opening round games with the 2010 Under 20 champions beating Goss and Balfe Crusaders 34-3 at KP 6 on Saturday while in the other game Bluff Spar Harlequins beat Pietermaritzburg 34-15.

In the First Division South Section the top four sides Hillcrest, South Coast Warriors, Amanzimtoti and Ricoh Maritzburg Collegians remain unbeaten after the first two rounds. On Saturday Hillcrest beat Richards Bay 40-19, Collegians had a good away win accounting for Teichmann Bell Ballito Dolphins 34-10, Toti didn’t look to impressive in Kokstad beating the improved side from East Griqualand 24-13 and South Coast Warriors weren’t any better against Maritzburg Elephants eking out a 20-16 win at Woodburn.

In the remaining game FNB UKZN Durban got into all too important winning ways beating Wentworth 52-7 and should go from strength to strength here on in going forward.

This weekend sees the Ronnie van Rooyen Rugby Day being hosted once again by Harlequins in honour of the mightiest Quin of them all out on the Bluff with the Frank Norris games all being played on Friday evening and the senior friendly games scheduled for Saturday starting at 10am in the morning.

- Jos Robson