by CHESLEY DANIELS
Swallows 1st XV registered its second win in three weeks with a clinical 17-7 win over hosts Old Collegians (OC) from Queenstown Komani on Saturday, 17 February 2023, in their preseason friendly match.
Swallows (EPRU) and OC (BRU) forged a good working relationship in recent years by playing home and away rugby fixtures. Swallows beat OC in last year’s fixture at the Oval in Grahamstown Makhanda and defeated the hosts in their backyard, defending their status quo and retaining the bragging rights. These two clubs always produce some exciting and entertaining rugby, and on Saturday, it was no different when rugby was the winner and friendships were built to the next level.
The Makhanda team travelled to Komani with a mindset to win at all costs and bring the victory home to the Birds family. It wasn’t easy, as the hosts made it difficult for the Birds to fly to an easy victory. It was again like in the last fixture, played in an excellent spirit and at a high tempo, with both sides coming hard at each other. The hosts gave the game numerous scoring opportunities to the visitors but let it slip through their fingers. It was a game of two halves as both teams dominated matters in various stages. OC took honours in the first half with a 7-0 lead with a try by Sanele Mkhize and converted by Romario Fields.
The second half
An exciting and challenging second half awaited two brother Clubs as Swallows came out of the changing room with a different mindset and approach. The halftime talk from the Birds Coaching Staff helped and paid off dividends as Swallows looked more dangerous with the ball in hand and put the hosts under constant pressure. The visitors looked good in the set pieces and launched a second-half comeback as they also introduced their “Bomb Squad”, which immediately impacted them. OC’s defence was found wanting as Swallows gained much-needed momentum. Swallows ran in three unanswered tries in the second half in the form of Breyton Plaatjies, Ayprean Morris and Cole Kirkwood. Plaatjies converted one try as Swallows emerged as deserved winners in the end.
OC 1st Reserve beat Swallows 10-0 in the main curtain-raiser of the day.
OC Coach Brian Williams congratulated the visitors on their win and was also happy with their preseason preparations. “This is our second game as we prepare for the 2023 rugby season. There are a lot of positives for us to take out of the encounter and a lot to work on going forward. We made numerous unforced errors on the attack when we had the opportunity to score, but credit to Swallows, who took their chances and capitalized on our mistakes. The game was played very well, and we further strengthened our friendship with Swallows. We wish them all the best for the coming 2023 season,” Williams said.
Swallows Head Coach, Weston Du Plessis, was pleased with the away win and the preseason preparations. “Jason Potgieter (7) played brilliantly and was well supported by Wonga Wakashe (2) and Stefan Mentoor (8) with his colossal workload, while Blaine Jeggels (11) looked very hungry on the attack with support from youngsters Ethan Williams (10) and James May (15) at the back. We are having a BYE this weekend where we want to work on other aspects we were lacking and have a Bootcamp and team building this coming weekend. Also, thank you to OC for hosting us and the fantastic gesture they’ve always shown to us,” said Du Plessis.
The Grocott’s Mail Sport and Daniels MEDIA Man of the Match went to the hit man and gladiator Jason Potgieter of Swallows. The evergreen Potgieter once again produced a sterling performance at flank, and his presence was surely felt in all facets of the game. The former EP Rural and Schools player where all over the field, put in some big cohesive hits, ran strongly with the ball on attack and was fearsome and aggressive at the breakdowns.