By CHESLEY DANIELS
Klipfontein United 1st XV retained their unbeaten record in the EPRU Sedru Regional League Competition after a hard-fought 20-17 humdinger against Old Collegians (OC) played at the Albany Sports Grounds on Saturday afternoon. The visitors took a healthy 20-5 lead at the break and were rewarded for their splendid first-half efforts.
This all-important clash was probably the game of the season as both high-quality sides delivered the goods in entertaining the large crowd with some exciting running rugby. Despite the cold and wet weather conditions, the rugby inside the four corners was heated, as both teams confronted each other in a physical battle.
But, the game was played in an excellent spirit as it highlighted both teams’ excellence and profound discipline.
With the win, Klipfontein remained unbeaten and fourth on the log, while the losing bonus point saw OC move up to third. St Mark’s, whose Saturday’s fixture against Rhodes was postponed on Saturday, remain on top and unbeaten after five rounds.
The encounter started at a very high pace and with great intensity that saw the visitors Klipfontein surprising the OC with running rugby from the outset. United wasted no time and played salubrious attacking rugby with brutal physicality. They launched wave after wave of attacks at the opposition in the first half.
OC found themselves uncharacteristically on the back foot. They conceded points and defended for dear life. Klipfontein’s positive and confident attacking play saw them scoring points, breaking the defence, and giving them a healthy 20-5 lead at halftime.
We know the OC style play – they came back strongly in the second half as their mobile forwards upped their game and started putting together constructive phases. They started dominating up front with their forwards running good lines and dominated at scrum time, gaining a much-needed advantage.
OC were rewarded for the scrum dominance when they received a penalty try that brought them back into the game. The home side scored again to narrow matters 17-20, and it promised to be a titanic finish in the end.
OC continued to attach but made mistakes at crucial moments, while United’s colossus defence stood firm even though they didn’t score any points in the second half. The clash went down to the wire as the large crowd remained on their feet, cheering their beloved players on.
In injury time, OC were on the attack in the opposition’s 22m area and received a lineout searching for the winner. But unfortunately, the throw-in was not straight.
Klipfontein, however, were very relieved and happy with their hard-fought and deserved the 20-17 win.
Tries: Dylan Graaf, Braden Jacobs, Denver Hitzeroth
Conversion: John Hutchinson
Penalty: David Kleinhans
Tries: Athini Gagayi, Dumini Stayi, Penalty Try
Conversin: Siyabulela Mahapi
Klipfontein’s Head Coach, Nicklon Cannon, was very happy with the win and impressed with his side’s performance. “Our fitness pulled us through the game, but a lot of work is needed in the scrums. Credit to OC who never gave up and played outstanding rugby as always.”
OC’s captain Masixole Jonono praised United for their win and how they came at them. “It was a fairly contested affair – a game of two halves. We let them in the game – they surprised us by playing running rugby, which worked for them in the end.
“Our forwards came to the party in the second half when we played up front and dominated in the second half. Our flyhalf also upped his game in the second half, but it was technically a great contest between the two top clubs in the league. It showed us our mistakes, and we need to improve going forward.”
The Grocott’s Mail Man of the Match award went to George Kleinhans, the physical eight man of Klipfontein. He was brutal with ball in hand on attack. His immaculate defence was outstanding, and he was also involved in a few tries while psyching up the players from the outset.