SAA Club Champs
Hamilton power through to SAA Club Champs final
Hamilton powered their way into the SAA National Club Champs final with a convincing 34-12 (halftime 20-5) victory over KZN champions College Rovers in the first semi-final played at the LC de Villiers stadium on the University of Pretoria sport campus on Thursday.
The WP champions will play the winner of the second semi-final between defending champions NWU-Pukke and Valke champions Springs. The match kicks off at 18h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
The final takes place at Loftus Versfeld at 13h00 on Saturday.
Hammies confirmed their pre-tournament billing as one of the favourites for the title with a clinical and assured dismantling of Rovers, who were aiming to reach their third final in four years after finishing as runners-up in both 2006 and 2008.
Hammies scored five tries to two in a tense and intriguing match that featured a host of current and former provincial players – although the calling of uncontested scrums as early as the 56th minute robbed the match of much of its drama.
In a tense opening quarter in which both teams felt each other out like heavyweight boxers, Hammies opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a breakout try under the posts by flanker Thabane Sangwane. Scrumhalf Dustin Jinka, who scored 29 points in his team’s quarter-final victory over Pirates, converted.
Rovers however responded in the 27th minute with a driving maul try by flanker Nico Claasen, after a period of sustained pressure on the Hamilton line.
The Capetonians then opened up a 12-5 lead when they scored their second try through lock Ashley Down, who galloped in from 25 metres after a Hammies counter-attack that started in their own half.
The WP champions extended their lead to 10 points when a strong midfield run from veteran centre Clinton van Rensburg netted a penalty, which Jinka kicked, before they applied the killer blow in first-half injury time.
Flyhalf Pieter Benade broke clear from deep inside his own half before putting through a perfectly weighted kick for wing Alshaun Bock to chase down. Suddenly, Rovers were needing to score at least three times to haul themselves back into the match and it proved too big a task against opponents of the calibre of Hamilton.
The second half did see Rovers stage a mini-revival but Hammies’ forward power at scrum time, coupled with effective covering by fullback Elric van Vuuren and Van Rensburg, kept the Durbanites scoreless despite their territorial dominance.
Much of the first-half intensity was diluted however when the match had to go to uncontested scrums after Rovers lost both starting props to injury. Their woes then continued when Jordaan limped off and poor following up allowed fullback Van Vuuren set off on a mazy 50-metre run that resulted in a penalty – only for Jinka to hook his attempt.
But by this stage Hammies were merely winding down the clock to save what energy remained for Saturday’s final – but that didn’t stop Bock from showing his great pace in scorching down the left-hand touchline for his second try after 67 minutes.
Rovers scored their first points of the second half with 10 minutes remaining through a try by replacement back Stuart Hudson, which he converted himself, but they left their rearguard action too late against a side who this year have made a habit of keeping high-quality teams at arm’s length.
With the sands of time running out, there was just enough time for Bock to score his hat-trick as the WP champions sent out an ominous warning to their final opponents.
Scorers: Hamilton 34 – Tries: Thabane Sangwane, Ashley Down, Alshaun Bock (3). Conversions: Dustin Jinka, Elric van Vuuren, Liaan Scriven. Penalty: Jinka.
College Rovers 12 – Try: Nico Claasen, Stuart Hudson. Conversion: Hudson.
Free State champions Shimlas and home side Pretoria Police will contest the Plate final, to be played at the Loftus Versfeld B field on Saturday at 11h30.
Shimlas beat Kuruman 49-12 (halftime 7-7) while Bobbies beat Great Brak River 52-26 (halftime 28-14) in Thursday’s semi-finals.
Pretoria Police 52 – Tries: Heinrich Rademeyer (4), Michael Nienaber, Birtie Powell, Corné Riekert, Christefer Snyman. Conversions: Mike Erasmus (5), Jaque Venter.
Great Brak River 26 – Tries: Enzo Matthews, Bryson Volkwyn, Ashwin Meyer, Arden Wesso. Conversions: Deroy Rhoode (3).
Shimlas 49 – Tries: Jaco Colyn, Earl Snyman (2), Johan van Niekerk, Johan van Schalkwyk, Danie Cronjé. Conversions: Van Niekerk (6), Cronjé.
Kuruman 12 – Tries: Hendrik Beets, Philip Liebenberg. Conversion: Nico van der Westhuizen.
Pukke 44 Rawsonville 34
College Rovers 52 Park 22
Springs 51 Buffalo 19
Hamilton 39 Pirates 27
Kuruman 23 Middelburg 19
Shimlas 32 Impala 21
Great Brak River 31 Noordelikes 29
Pretoria Police 54 Welkom Rovers 35
Issued by SA Rugby