By OVAYO MILISA NOVUKELA
The Rhodes University Internal Rugby League was back in action after a week’s break, when Troopers went up against Barbarians last Tuesday. Troopers went into the match leading the internal league log with six points, while the Barberians and Dream team were close behind with five points.
This was the first match where all teams were allowed to use 15 players on each side. As a result, the Troopers had an explosive yet aggressive forward pa. In contrast, the Barbarians had a vastly experienced team with many of the Rhodes University Stallions players involved with Chumani Tshuni, Simelela Mbanzi, Lathitha Jodwana, and the explosive speedster Tatenda Kandengwa, to name a few.
The match started with high intensity and tempo from both teams but was marred by errors. Five minutes into the game, a tremendous attacking formation gave Tatenda Kandengwa a perfect try by using his speed and strength to get the job done. The Troopers slowly came into the game by forcing the Barbarians into errors, using their forwards to control the game, and allowing the backline to exploit the spaces to get their first try.
Despite handling errors throughout the match by both teams, the high-tempo and physical game was entertaining. The strength of the Troopers’ forward pack proved too much for the Barbarians to handle. Qawe Mzawuziwa and Man of the Match Sithembele Njokweni carried the ball powerfully and created opportunities for their teammates.
The Troopers snatched a narrow 22-20 win.
Njokweni said his experience at the Grand Challenge helped him to improve his performance, and his match fitness was much better through hard training. Troopers captain Simamkele Ngantweni was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We started on a bad note, but we improved our game as the match progressed,” said Ngantweni. He said his team often found themselves on the back foot at the beginning of their games and needed to bring the game to the opponent throughout the match.
Troopers will take on Dream Team in Rhodes Great Field this Sunday at 4 pm.