By CHESLEY DANIELS
Swallows ended the EPRU SEDRU Regional League on a winning note with a concocted 17-7 win over Kowie United at the Oval Sports Ground on Saturday. The visitors Kowie took a narrow 7-5 lead at halftime.
This was also the last fixture match for the season for both clubs and indeed an astonishing and brutal contest in front of a large crowd. Swallows needed a win to take revenge after Kowie beat them 20-10 in the first round in Port Alfred on 23 April. The result saw Swallows move up to the sixth position and Kowie end in the fourth position on the overall log.
As expected, the game started at a great pace and a very high intensity. The brutal and physical skirmish was executed from the kick-off until the final whistle, as blood, sweat, and tears were the order of the day. Both teams played an exciting and physical game and were in each other’s faces throughout. Both teams were also overeager in their defence, leading to numerous high tackles.
Swallows’ forwards showed more intent and brutality in their defence and put the visitors under constant pressure. The home side was also more clinical and dominant in set pieces, giving them momentum and opening up opportunities. While the home side enjoyed less ball possession, they used their opportunities and put points on the board.
Swallows’ discipline was lacking in defence. Over-eager tackles resulted in yellows cards. While Swallows played with 14 players for most periods of the game, the visitors failed to use that to their advantage to put points on the board. However, Swallows ran in three tries in the end, while Kowie only received a penalty try.
Damon Geswindt, loose forward of Swallows, scored in the sixth minute of the first half in the left-hand corner, while a penalty try was awarded to Kowie deep in the 35th minute. This took the halftime score to 7-5 in favour of United.
The second half was more brutal as Kowie made crucial mistakes with scoring opportunities. Kegan Roberts barged his way through to score Swallows’ second try in the 12th minute of the second half to take the lead for the first time in the match, converted by Jason Henson 12-7. The home side gained momentum and confidence with their solid and brutal first line of defence, as their forwards put in colossal tackles.
A 20th-minute try by hooker Nolan Willemse extended the lead to 17-7, with the pressure mounting on United. The visitors rallied, and their backs looked impressive with ball in hand, but a solid last line of defence from Swallows prevented them from scoring.
The last 20 minutes of the game saw scoring opportunities go a-begging for Kowie as Swallows were a man down at times. But again they failed to punish Swallows and could not put points on the board. Swallows’ strong ball carriers gave them momentum while their driving mauls from line-outs proved effective.
Kowie failed to put points on the board in the second half as the scoreboard read 17-7 for Swallows and a clinical win.
Swallows coach Eugene Jansen praised his players for their defensive efforts and brutality. “Our scrums were decent, and ball carries brilliant. Our first and last line of defence was solid and brutal, and the guys deserved the win in the bag.”
The Grocott’s Mail Sport/Daniels MEDIA Man of the Match was Swallows’ cool-headed full-back James May. May was outstanding at the back and very solid. His last line of defence was just phenomenal, and his counter-attacks were on point. He was also brilliant under the high ball under pressure and very safe.