by CHESLEY DANIELS
The long-awaited 2023 rugby season is here and the home side Swallows didn’t disappoint the decent crowd that came out in their numbers to watch the home side and a feast of rugby on the day.
Swallows 1 st XV has defeated visitors Bedford Crusaders with a dominant 31-5 win in their EPRU Friendly rugby encounter played at the fortress Oval Sports Ground in Grahamstown Makhanda on 4 February.
The home side took a 12-5 lead at the break. A number of curtain-raisers were played on the day as Swallows played host to Crusaders in the main event of the afternoon.
The home side got off to a whirling start and made their intentions very clear as they showed early
dominance with their scrum power and lineout prowess. The hungry and talented backs showed they
wanted to stamp down their authority but also made unnecessary enforced errors. The home side
scored two tries in the first ten minutes of the game but Bedford clawed their way back.
Bradley Christian showed why he is so highly rated as fly half after an absence from the game for more than five years. Powerful inside centre Keanen Roberts started the 2023 season where he left off in 2022.
In the front, Wonga Wakashe was absolutely brilliant and looked eager for the clash by gaining
metres after metres on the attack, where the opposition found it difficult to stop. Wakashe scored the first try through some brilliant interplay while James May converted to give the Birds an early 7-0 lead.
The forwards gained good momentum and their interplay was very good, leading to Wakashe’s second try, converted by Jason Henson. Bedford however, areknown for not lying down and giving up and gained more confidence with the ball in hand – this led to their first try by their inside centre. Swallows led Crusaders 12-5 at halftime.
With the introduction of Carl Oerson (8thman) and newcomer Jason Potgieter (flank) in the second
half, things got more organised on attack for Swallows and they immediately made an impact to get
the forwards on the front foot and over the advantage line. Marcel May (prop) gave the pack further dominance in the scrums and his bulldozing runs ensured that Swallows retained the momentum.
The other newcomers to the Birds, Cole Kirkwood (Former EP Schools/EP U/19 & SEDRU) and Duane Brown (EP Rural & SEDRU), also injected some urgency in the backs when they came on as the backline looked dangerous.
It was just no stopping from here for the Birds as they ran from within their own 22m area with so much confidence. Veteran Ivan “Motta” Agnew ran 20m from the line out, executed a neatly dummy pass to Ayprean Morris who found Jason Potgieter who scored the final try of the afternoon to give Swallows a deserved 31-5 clinic win over the visitors.
Swallows Head Coach Weston Du Plessis was a happy man after his side’s crushing win, a sweet
revenge over Crusaders who beat them in last year’s friendly in Bedford. “Everyone pulled their weight, but Mot, Wonga, and Carl should be mentioned while Justin Isaacs was constantly in their faces and all over the park. Bevan Hopshire was sharp on attack at the back and used the high ball tactics of Bedford as an attacking weapon. We are now looking forward to the next friendlies and strive to improve in all facets of the game” he said.
The Grocott’s Mail Sport/Daniels MEDIA Man of the Match went to the beast front ranker Wonga
Wakashe. Wonga was an absolute beast with his all-round dominant performance and also scored
two bulldozing tries. He was strong in the scrums, his line out throws were accurate, brilliant with
ball in hand on attack, fearsome cohesive defence and he was highly effective at the breakdown
insuring a few turnovers.
Swallows 1 st Reserves beat Lily White 17-12. The Man of the Match was young Ethan Williams who
played a brilliant game in the backline.
Swallows will face Trying Stars in their next Friendly fixture on Saturday 11 February 2023 at the