Photo Caption: Julian Gardner from Graeme College, competes for a line-out against Union.
Graeme College were privileged to host Union High School in Grahamstown on Saturday. The fixture is one of the traditional rivalries in the Eastern Cape, dating back 57 years. More importantly, there was very much a feeling of mutual respect between the two schools on the day and the teams didn’t concede an inch to each other.
Graeme walked away from the derby with most of the accolades, winning ten and losing one match, but each fixture was hard fought. The tradition of the fixture was very much upheld by every team that played on the day, but day would prove to be a good one for the hosts. Even though we are well into the rugby season, it felt for the first time the boys were playing in wintery conditions, as the cold weather swept through Grahamstown. The Graeme boys however, seemed to relish these conditions and it didn’t stop them from moving the ball across the park as.The Graeme u15a and 3rdXV, in particular, put on a brilliant display of running rugby to finish with comfortable victories against fine opposition.
Going in to the derby, the 1stXV match was going to be a close battle, very similar to the one experienced in 2015, where Graeme came out on top. Union High made a strong impression early on in the encounter, by scoring a converted try, 10minutes into the game. This however, seemed to kick-start the Graemian side, as they started to dominate the possession and territory. The domination started up front where the Graeme forwards were impeccable on the day, ensuring good clean ball from their set pieces and also not allowing Union High to get a good platform to work from. The Union side though countered well and pounced on any Graeme errors. Graeme were finally rewarded with a try of their own by Captain Ntsika Ndungane which was converted by Sivu Ngqiyaza. This left the score at 7-7 at halftime, and although Graeme would have been a little disappointed in having not scored at least one more try, but it was probably a fair score-line to go into the half-time break after Union also had a few exciting counter attacks.
Union High started the second half much like the first, with an early try which was also converted. After the try, Graeme returned to dominating the game in the close quarters.The Graeme set pieces were good and they were gaining the upper hand in the collisions around the ruck. This finally paid off as the Graeme scrumhalf,Cameron Amos, managed to snipe around the fringe of the ruck and score. Sivu Ngqiyaza converted to level the scores at 14 apiece. Not long after that, the Graeme forwards were rewarded for their hard work as they crashed over, after setting up a maul from a 5metre lineout. Graeme led 19-14 but there was still plenty of time and rugby still to be played. Graeme absorbed 10minutes of tense pressure, as Union High held on to the ball, through a number of phases but were unable to score. Graeme found themselves scrambling in defence as Union managed to keep the ball for most of the last quarter of the match. Towards the end, Graeme could havescored another try after a good run from LindoLeleki, who was one of the hard working tight forwards for Graeme on the day.
Graeme ended up winning the very tightly fought contest, 19-14, and will hope to continue their good form when they return to the playing field in the 3rd term.
Good luck to AziziphoMngcongo as he takes part at the 2016 Craven Week in the holiday for the Eastern Province Academy Rural side.
Summary of Results
1st XV won 19-14
2nds won 26-7
3rds won 29-5
U16A won 17-3
U15A won 46-5
U15B won 24-19
U14A lost 32-15
U13A won 46-12
U13B won 52-0
u13C lost 29- 22 vs Oatlands u13A.
U11A won 41-0
U11C lost 33-5 vs Oatlands u11A
U9 won 31-15