By CHESLEY DANIELS
Trying Stars confirmed their quarter-final spot in their EPRU Grand Challenge Competition with a 27-19 win over Despatch on Saturday at the Wentzel Park Sports Ground in Alexandria. The home side narrowly edged Despatch 17-14 at halftime.
With the win, Stars finished in the second position of Group C on 50 points behind Park, who are log leaders on 64 and unbeaten in their 14 games. The top two teams of the four groups will advance to the quarter-final playoffs.
Despatch drew first blood in the first five minutes of the game with a converted try to lead 7-0. Stars made the game quick and kept the ball alive, giving it air and spreading it wide. Stars hit back with a converted try and a penalty to take a 10-7 lead. The home side kept on attacking and were again rewarded with a converted try to extend their lead to 17-7. The visitors played some impressive rugby and launched a comeback with a converted try to take the score to 17-14 in favour of the home side.
The second was even more competitive, and scoring was not easy. Both teams came hard at each other, with Stars missing a few scoring opportunities. Despatch scored an unconverted try halfway in the second half to take the lead 19-17. Stars showed character and replied immediately with a well-worked try. The conversion was missed, and Stars led 24-19. With eight minutes to go, Brendan Coetzer slotted a penalty to give Stars a 27-19 lead that also happened to be the final score.
TRIES: Lance King, Breyton Stemele, Gershin Hutchinson
CONVERSIONS: Brendon Coetzer (x3)
PENALTIES: Coetzer (x2)
Stars coach Sheldrid Cannon was happy with his side’s win and the group of players in the squad. “There’s a good mix of youth and experience in the squad and we are looking forward to the quarter-finals. We need to work harder on our defence and our scums and lineouts that we’re not up to scratch today,” he said.
The Grocott’s Mail/DANIELS Media Man of the Match went to fullback Lance King. The young, exciting player was solid at the back and also scored a fantastic try. He was steady at the back and dangerous with ball in hand on attack, while his defence also stood out when it mattered. His positional play and joining the line were just outstanding.
FINAL EPRU GRAND CHALLENGE GROUP C LOG:
- Park – 64 (14)
- Trying Stars – 50 (14)
- Despatch – 39 (14)
- Brumbies – 38 (14)
- Despatch Oostelikes – 37 (14)
- Born Fighters – 30 (14)
- Lily White 15 (14)
- KWARU – 11 (14)