By Chesley Daniels
In an EPRU Grand Challenge Group A match, Grahamstown Brumbies hosted EP Champs Progress on 15 July at the Oval Sports Ground.
Log Leaders Progress travelled to Makhanda as overwhelming favorites to take on hosts Brumbies in a much-anticipated encounter at a packed fortress Oval. Thousands came out in their numbers to witness a potential 50+ bonus point win for the Champs of Kariega hoping for a convincing defeat of Brumbies in their first round encounter. Well, this never happened as the two top teams showcased one of the matches of the season. It was a humdinger and would have gone either way, as both teams ensured 80-plus minutes of entertaining rugby.
Brumbies started well but could not capitalise. It was Champs Progress who scored first against the run of play with provincial winger Brandt Fields scoring in the far right corner. That was ironically the last run from Fields as Brumbies 20-year-old winger Declan Muller had him in his pocket for the rest of the game. It was Muller who ignited the Brumbies’ backline into action as he stepped past four defenders to offload to Nolan Soyes to score. Muller converted. Brumbies led 7-5.
Another penalty by Muller after the much talked about front row gained a penalty at a scrum. Brumbies led 10-5. Before the break, the Progress scrumhalf sniped to score an unconverted try with the teams locked 10-10 at the end of the first half.
The EP Champs and Saldanha Bay finalists started well in the second half, quickly building up a 18-10 lead. As Progress was concentrating on the young Muller, up stepped playmaker Eldrico Kivitts, who was in top form. He broke the Progress line at will and created chance after chance. Veteran lock Monray Evans eventually scored as Brumbies fought back. Impressive on defense was Chadwill Jeggels who made numerous tackles. The entire front row consisting of Garin Strydom, Deon Crous Tevin Pillay, and Diego Isaacs once again showed why they are representing SEDRU.
A late penalty by Progress kept Brumbies out, clinching the win 21-15. Brumbies earned a valuable bonus point in the process but are still in need of getting more wins behind their name as the pressure mounts towards the closing phases of the competition.
The question on everyone’s lips is just when will Declan Muller be called up to the EP under-21 squad? And when will magician Eldrico Kivitts be called up to the EP senior squad?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eldrico Kivitts once again showed his versatility in the Brumbies backline and earned the Grocott’s Mail Sport and Daniels MEDIA Man of the Match Award. Kivitts is in the form of his life and proved why he is so highly rated in The Grand Challenge Competition. He was dangerous both on attack and defence and broke the line on numerous occasions, whilst also creating many opportunities for his young and exciting backline. Drico was just in devastating mode and played his heart out.
Brumbies are away this weekend to Born Fighters in Somerset and a win is non-negotiable.
LATEST EPRU GRAND CHALLENGE GROUP A LOG AS AT 15 JULY 2023:
1. PROGRESS – 51 (11)
2. TRYING STARS 43 (10)
3. GRAHAMSTOWN BRUMBIES – 25 (10)
4. DESPATCH – 22 (11)
5. MISSIONVALE UNITED – 21 (10)
6. BORN FIGHTERS – 20 (10)
7. LILY WHITE – 11 (9)
8. WINDVOGEL UNITED – 8 (9)