by Chesley Daniels
Although registering an all-important 28-24 bonus point win, it went down to the wire in a hard-fought and titanic rugby battle between St Mark’s Alicedale and the Gelvandale Wallabies at the Alicedale Sports Ground on 1 April.
The first round of the long-awaited EPRU Adams Cup Fixture finally kicked off, with both clubs receiving promotion as Sub Union Regional Winners and Quarterfinalists of the 2022 rugby season. St Mark’s Alicedale was the Champs and winners of the SEDRU League, whilst Gelvandale Wallabies had won the PE Metro Champs.
The contest was played in a very good spirit on a lovely sunny day that saw both teams coming hard at each other. The match was evenly contested, a battle of two halves, which saw both teams exchanging dominance throughout the game. A decent crowd came in to witness some spectacular running rugby as both teams gave the ball some air, which also saw the forwards launching wave after wave of attacks on each other. The home side’s bigger forwards are known for their dominance in front, especially in the scrums and the line-out mauls, which saw them scoring all four tries in that department.
Wallabies’ younger backs were very much prominent with the ball in hand on attack and showed glimpses of brilliance as they caught the home side’s backs off guard on numerous occasions.
The visitors took the lead in the first five minutes of the game via a converted try. The home side hit back almost immediately as the visitors led 7-5. Wallabies were equally impressive in the lineouts and won good quality balls that kept them in the hunt. St Mark’s had other plans and kept the ball between their bigger forwards, who executed strong and powerful carriers that saw them gain much-needed momentum and territory. Both sides slotted a penalty each as the visitors went into the break with a narrow 10-8 break.
The second half promised to be a cracker, as the game was wide open and anyone’s to win. Bulls (St Mark’s) dominated the scrums and received a few penalties that boosted their chances of scoring. They immediately took the lead in the second half with a try by 8th man Marcus Goliath who scored the first of his brace of tries on the day. Cameron Jewell converted as Bulls took a welcomed 15-10 lead. Wallabies stood firm as their defences held, keeping the ball away from the bigger forwards of the home side.
Their backs put them on the front foot and put the home side under constant pressure. 135kg prop Brian Buys extended his side’s lead halfway through the second half 20-10 before Wallabies launched a mini-comeback. Steward Frazer, the Wallabies flanker, scored in the right-hand corner and this was converted by fly-half Conre Windvogel, narrowing the score to 20-17 in favour of the home side.
The discipline of both sides came to the fore as three yellow cards were issued (two to Wallabies and one to St Mark’s). The momentum swung again in favour of the home side as Goliath bulldozed his way through a couple of defenders and dived over to make it 25-17. Minutes later, Jewell slotted a penalty to extend his side’s lead to 28-17 with less than ten minutes remaining.
Wallabies never gave up and kept on attacking and putting the home side under pressure. They were rewarded for their constant pressure inside the 22m area of St Mark’s, just metres away from the try line, with a penalty try. St Mark’s won 28-24 with minutes left on the clock.
Both teams felt the heat and pressure and smelled a win. The game went from one corner to another, from one half to the other, as both sides ran with the ball to keep possession in the dying moments of the game. Wallabies received a penalty in injury time and kick the ball out for a line out. They neatly collected the ball successfully from the line out and kept the ball alive and launched an attack. The ball was in place for two minutes after full time as they pick up and drive towards the goal line. The ball was unfortunately held up in the tackle as the player was held up over the line. Wallabies must be counting themselves very unlucky that they did not dot the ball down, because they almost snatched the win away from St Mark’s at the death. In the end, it was the home side whose defences held firm, and who walked away with a bonus point 28-24 win.
TRIES: Marcus Goliath (x2), Sive Litye and Brian Buys
CONVERSION: Cameron Jewell
PENALTIES: Razeen Saterdag and Cameron Jewell
TRIES: Raven Kayser, Stewart Frazer and Penalty try
CONVERSIONS: Conre Windvogel (x2)
The Grocott’s Mail/Daniels MEDIA Man of the Match was a very tight call between Marcus Goliath (8th man of St Mark’s) and Craig Adams (8th man of Wallabies). But it went to Goliath, who was a constant threat to his opponents with the ball in hand on the attack, always crossing the advantage line. He also scored two tries on the day and gained metres every time he touched the ball. His defence was rock solid and he also secured a few turnovers at the breakdowns.