Rondebosch, Bishops victorious as SACS pipped by Maritzburg College

Rondebosch prop Matthew van der Merwe charges forward against Rustenburg at the Kearsney Festival. Photo: HANNAH SHIRLEY

Rondebosch prop Matthew van der Merwe charges forward against Rustenburg at the Kearsney Festival. Photo: HANNAH SHIRLEY

Published Apr 2, 2024



The Cape schools had mixed fortunes at the various rugby festivals played across the country over the Easter weekend.

At the St John’s festival in Johannesburg, the clash between SACS and Maritzburg College was a blockbuster encounter.

The visitors from the Cape, with successive wins over Michaelhouse and Graeme College, must have fancied their chances against their opponents from KwaZulu-Natal.

Maritzburg came off a loss to Boland Landbou on Thursday, but pulled off a huge upset in a nail-biter, beating SACS 26-24 after trailing 19-7 at half-time.

It was a veritable game of two halves as SACS drew first blood after four minutes, after a rumbling maul saw prop Ethan Combrink crash over for an unconverted try.

Maritzburg were quick to respond in similar style, with hooker Lwanda Khumalo dotting down and flyhalf James Slevin converting.

With both sides adopting similar styles, it needed something special to unlock the defences.

It came in the 12th minute, when SACS’ replacement scrumhalf Seth Bradford caught the College defence napping with a quick tap penalty on the halfway line to race in untouched, with the try converted by flyhalf Rayhaan Solomons to put the Cape side 12-7 ahead.

Solomons was calling the shots, making judicious use of the boot to keep College pinned in their territory.

SACS’ third try, by wing Endie Sindile, came from a perfectly executed grubber kick by Solomons, who also converted to put them comfortably 19-7 ahead.

The KZN side came out firing on all cylinders after the interval, scoring two tries in the first eight minutes of the half.

With the introduction of the bench, including SA Schools prop Phiwayinkosi Kubheka, they had SACS back-pedalling in the scrums.

With the dominance up front they were able to drive over from a rolling maul with a try by flank Struan Oosthuizen.

With the SACS defence running out of steam and the altitude taking its toll, it was not surprising that Maritzburg scored yet another try when their backs moved the ball out wide for Slevin to cross in the corner. He added the conversion to level matters at 19-19.

Undaunted, SACS dug deep in a bid to restore their lead and scored from a full backline move that saw No 15 Jack Benade slice his way over for an unconverted try, which put SACS back in the lead at 24-19.

But Maritzburg were soon on the front foot, with their No 8 Imivuyo Kemka prominent.

It was his skip pass that that set wing Lee-Ryne Sinkfontein free on the outside to score the equalising try.

Replacement flyhalf Jordan Thackway converted and Maritzburg were 26-24 ahead.

With the clock ticking down SACS launched a last-ditch attempt to clinch the win, but conceded a last-minute penalty, much to the relief of the KZN outfit.

The Maritzburg boys were much less convincing on the last day, beating a Lions Invitation XV 24-7.

In the King Edward School (KES) Festival, also in Johannesburg, Bishops scored an easy 47-24 win over Dale College in an 11-try fest.

The team from Qonce (formerly King William’s Town) took an early 12-5 lead as Bishops struggled to get going.

But once they hit their straps, there was no stopping the ‘dark blues’ as they ran in five unanswered tries to make the half-time score 33-12.

It was a lead that was sufficient to see them home safely as they went off the boil in the second half when they were visibly affected by the altitude.

In the Kearsney Festival in KZN, Rondebosch Boys’ High spoilt the party for the hosts with a 22-8 win, scoring three tries to one in a hard-fought encounter.

They made it a hat-trick of wins, beating Rustenberg 22-13 on the last day with four tries to one.

Bosch led 17-6 at the interval, but having played their fourth game in 10 days, it was not surprising that they produced a lacklustre second-half performance with several players suffering from cramp.

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