Diocesan College (Bishops) hosted The South African College High School (SACS) in a highly anticipated match. The match lived up to expectations and was a real humdinger with the lead changing hands three times before SACS scored and converted at the death to claim a 24-all draw (halftime: 12-3 to Bishops).
Bishops started like a house on fire dominating possession and territory for the first quarter of the match. In true Bishops tradition, they played with tempo and width asking questions that the SACS defence failed to answer on two occasions. Their stand-out players on the day, left-wing Ross Goodwin and hooker Ghaalieb Kenny, dotting down for early tries. Scrumhalf William Rose converted the second try.
SACS needed to get their hands on the ball and build some pressure but they continued to be harassed and forced into errors by a fired-up Bishops side who contested the breakdowns furiously. SACS did manage line breaks through flyhalf David Hayes and left-wing Aaron Zeederberg but on both occasions, they failed to finish.
With half-time approaching, SACS were reduced to thirteen men (two yellow cards) so captain Lucky Dlepu decided to slow the game down and take the three points on offer. SACS had another good chance to narrow the lead just on halftime but, in what became a recurring theme for them, the final pass didn’t go to hand.
SACS needed to score early in the second half to build belief and get themselves back into the match. They did just that when three minutes in Hayes floated a pass to flank Sujai Ikemefuna who burst inside and past a number of Bishops defenders to score. SACS went straight back onto the attack when Zeederberg again cut the line. Again he couldn’t finish but minutes later SACS turned the resultant pressure into points when reserve flank Nishen Naidoo crashed over to see SACS take a 17-12 lead ten minutes into the second half.
The game was far from over though as Bishops surged back onto attack using a variety of “out the back” balls and interesting running lines to torment the SACS defence. Once again patient build-up play was rewarded when space opened up on the left for inside-centre Matt du Plessis to score. Rose, who had a great all-round game, missed the conversion and the scores were locked at 17-all with just under twenty minutes to go.
SACS produced and excellent set-piece play to put flyhalf David Hayes through with only the fullback to beat but the referee Divan Uys ruled the pass to Hayes forward. Bishops were not to be outdone though and minutes later they produced an excellent piece of attacking play down the left flank. Kenny, who had a brilliant match as a ball carrier in the wide channels, was again prominent before two expert offloads put Goodwin into space wide on the left. He raced over, cleverly scoring almost under the poles. Rose set the conversion up very close to the SACS try line and it was almost charged down. Fortunately for him, it snuck over the crossbar!
With time running out SACS had it all to do. SACS have come from behind to win a number of matches this season. This time they were fighting for a draw. They dug deep and hung onto the ball. Captain Lucky Dlepu, hobbling around on a heavily strapped ankle, drove his team forward towards the Bishops line. Prop Ethan Burger carried prominently twice before hooker Anathi Kalipa flopped over fifteen metres in from the left-hand touchline.
With time up on the clock, the crowd fell silent as SACS fullback Michael Abrahams lined up the conversion. He struck it well and the light North-Westerly wind helped it curl in from right, much to the delight of the SACS crowd seated behind him. It was an exciting end to a pulsating game. There were errors no doubt but the attacking intent that was evident from both teams would have pleased Basil Bey watching from above.
Diocesan College (Bishops)
Tries: 11 Ross Goodwin (2), 2 Ghaalib Kenny, 12 Matt du Plessis;
Conversions: 9 William Rose (2)
South African College High School (SACS)
Tries: 2 Anathi Kalipa, 6 Sujai Ikemefuna, 18 Nishen Naidoo;
Conversions: 15 Michael Abrahams (3);
Penalty: 9 Lucky Dlepu