Rovers power past Collegians to set up Crusaders final

A dominant second half display from Jonsson College Rovers saw them overcome their old adversaries Acer Durban Collegians 33-6 in the first Castle Murray Cup semi-final at Riverside on Friday evening. The victory saw Rovers storm their way into the final where they will clash with Telnet Crusaders who defeated Thanda / Waterstone Zululand Rhinos 20-13 in the second semi-final.

It was all systems go at the Riverside Sports complex for the huge double-header in which the first was deemed as a colossal clash between the two leading clubs in KZN. People arrived in their numbers amidst a carnival type atmosphere with the likes of ex-springboks John Allan and AJ Venter cheering on from the stands. The stakes were high for the victors. The first game saw a very cagey opening half with neither side wanting to give an inch. Rovers took the lead from a successful penalty from their star player, Jors Dannhauser. This was quickly cancelled out from a Ruan Allertson penalty for Collegians which brought the teams level at 3-3.

There were some heavy hits going in and both sets of forwards were displaying brute strength. With the score at 6-6 following two more successful penalty attempts from both the flyhalves, the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time when the dangerous Rovers backline kicked into gear. Centre Kobus de Kock scored the opening try for Rovers which was successfully converted by Dannhauser to give them a 13-6 lead going into the break.

Within five minutes of the second half - in what can be described as the match-changing moment - Rovers scored an intercept try by Dannhauser. He duly obliged with the conversion to make it 20-6 and from thereon in, it looked as though there was no coming back for Collegians. A further penalty and drop goal took the match away from them as they faced a twenty point deficit with the score at 26-6. They tried in vain to get back into the match but they seemed to run out of legs against a well-organised Rovers' defence. Rovers added salt to the wounds of their opponents by crossing the white-wash again towards the closing stages via a try from Nick Jackson. The conversion was successful which handed Jonsson College Rovers a memorable 33-6 victory which sent their supporters into raptures.

The man of the match award went to the irrepressible Rovers utility back, Jors Dannhauser whom we caught up with after the game. Dannhauser played down all the talk of his exceptional season and the thought that a Sharks call-up is not too far away. "I want to prove myself and work really hard," he said. "I feel really good and I want to maintain this form going into the Club Championships. I always have hope and faith in God that if I continue in the same manner, people will take notice."

The second part of the double-header saw Telnet Crusaders put up a gutsy performance to edge out Thanda / Waterstone Zululand Rhinos 20-13 in a very tightly-contested encounter. This game followed a similar pattern to the first as both sides cancelled out each other with some hard-working effort put in by the forwards. Crusaders took a half-time lead of 10-6 thanks to a try from scrumhalf Keagan Sloman. Fullback Armand Botha converted to add to his earlier penalty which cancelled out two successful penalties from Rhinos' flyhalf Sello Sekhyala.

Rhinos conceded two yellow cards leading into the break which saw them reduced to thirteen players on the field. Crusaders' defence stood firm in the second half and they had the luxury of an early try to give them a 17-6 lead and an eleven point buffer. A further penalty from Botha extended the lead as Rhinos tried to cut back the deficit. They were successful in the seventieth minute when Karli Schulze crossed over and Sekhyala converted to reduce the deficit to 20-13. It was too little too late though and Crusaders secured their passage into this coming Saturday's final.

Their contingent was well-pleased with the performance. Head coach, Loedewyk Riekert said: "We worked very hard to get here and I am proud of the guys. The Crusaders community has pulled this club through, not just the players or the coach - everyone involved should take the credit." Riekert also added that a final is a final and they were hoping to enjoy it irrespective of the outcome.

Ismail Adam