By CHESLEY DANIELS
In a thrilling friendly rugby encounter at the Oval in Grahamstown on Saturday, Swallows shocked the visitors, Old Collegians from Queenstown, with a comprehensive 31-14 win. The visitors were in the lead with 14-12 at the changeover.
The clash was played in extreme heat and hot weather conditions, but that didn’t stop the two sides from playing attractive rugby and entertaining the crowd. The game was physical and brutal from the onset, with OC setting the pace and coming hard at Swallows.
The bigger OC forwards took charge of matters with their explosive and strong ball carriers that consistently put them over the advantage line. Arnold Plaatjies of Swallows scored first in the first half, with the visitors Lutho Manxiwa and Brandon Flanagan crossing over for OC. Ruwayden Sias scored for Swallows as OC took a narrow 14-12 at the break.
The second half saw Swallows play more structured rugby after some harsh words by the coaching staff. The home side’s defences improved tremendously, with captain Stefan Mentoor and Bongani making some colossal tackles that prevented OC from scoring freely, like in the first half.
Senior player Hilton Fillis got his name on the score sheet with a hardworking try, while Colin Kemp continued with his all-round brilliance from the first half for OC. With the score on 17-12 to Swallows, it was still game on as OC kept launching wave after wave of attack at Swallows.
But the heat played its part, and OC started falling out of the bus as Swallows started attacking and moving the ball out wide. That yielded dividends as Swallows scored two further tries in the form of Jody Duiker, who scored a brilliant individual 55m try and replacement Breyton Plaatjies added a late try to make it 31-14 at full time. Swallows scrumhalf Justin Smith and OC 8thman Colin Kemp were voted Men of the Match for their outstanding all-round performances throughout the day.
Swallows Head Coach was not entirely happy with his side’s dominant second half and still believes that there’s plenty of hard work ahead. “In the first half, we execute our skills brilliantly – our backs’ passing and catching were good. But, we had one-on-one missed tackles, which is not acceptable. We allowed them to run straight through our defence, where they offloaded the ball in spaces.
“We need to improve on our defence and set pieces. Scrums were poor at times, and support play in the lineouts also needs attention. Strengths at this moment are our individuals’ brilliance. Look at how our flank ran in our second try – he outran the backs to score a brilliant try. Our experienced players also put up their hands and showed leadership. Lots of work ahead – but we are pleased with the win.”