The first day of the 2017 Standard Bank Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival produced some cracking encounters and dramatic results, reflecting a healthy state of rugby at schoolboy level.
Festival newcomers Drostdy and Pretoria Boys High, as well as Monument, Selborne, Glenwood and Middelburg, go into the second day today (Saturday) having won their first-day clashes. Hosts Kearsney will take on HoerskoolFramesby at noon, followed by Glenwood and EG Jansen at 1.15pm. The game between HTS Middelburg and Monument should be a worthwhile and evenly contested match. These two teams played each other on the last Saturday of the term; with Monument narrowly winning 14-12.
On the first day of the festival, the morning games were played in warm blustery conditions, which brought in some rain by mid-afternoon. The well-organised event is expected to attract good crowds to Botha’s Hill today to watch the 12 notable rugby-playing schools which are participating this year.
09h30 - Kearsney College 17-45 Drostdy HTS
The hosts enter this festival with an unbeaten streak of six matches. Victories against Pionier 33-8, Sarel Cilliers 40-15, Welkom Gim 29-15, Northwood 45-3, Nico Malan 30-29 and the biggest one so far against a Marlow team in Cradock with 23-7. They meet Drostdy HTS of which a lot is expected from but lost their first two matches against the touring side San Isidro from Argentina 13-21 and Paul Roos 19-32, then on their own festival they won against Marais Viljoen 27-19, drawn against Transvalia 26-26 and won Middelburg Hoër 48-5. Drostdy HTS supplied the majority of the u/16 Grant Khomo week side the have beaten the Western Province team on the first day of the 2016 Grant Khomo week. With Kearsney in top form, and at home I can not see Drostdy HTS winning this one.
HTS Drostdy, playing for the first time at the Standard Bank Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival, certainly produced some good festival rugby with hard running backs and strong forwards to win the first game 45-17. Early mistakes by both sides were eliminated and a good game yielded ten tries, seven by Drostdy. Playing in warm breezy conditions, it took a little time for Drostdy to settle down and a timely try by Kearsney fullback James Sutherland gave the hosts an early 5-0 lead. Much of the play was in the centre of the field with early-season mistakes by both sides preventing either team from dominating. Defence patterns were sound and although Kearsney were making some good turnover, mistakes at vital times prevented possible points. An attempted kick through while on attack was prevented and instead, Drostdy centre Christie Grobbelaar toed the ball a number of times and beat the defence to dot down for a five-pointer, converted by fullback Cohen Jasper, putting the visitors 7-5 in the lead. The game came alive in the last three minutes of the first half when Drostdy scored three times to take a commanding lead in what had been an even match at that stage. The first of this trio went to second time scorer Grobbelaar when a relieving kick was charged down. The second, when fullback Jasper joined the line, forced a break and some passes found centre Keanu Mong, who dotted down under the posts. From the kick-off, the Drostdy forwards won the ball and scrumhalf captain Romeo Eksteen broke through a tackle to score. It was converted by Jasper to leave Drostdy 26-5 ahead. The second half saw some brilliant rugby, initially by Kearsney who narrowed the gap to 17-26 by scoring two tries. The first was by Robbie Koenig with a determined run to score in the corner and the second by eighth man Dylan Richardson, who found his way over next to the upright. This was converted by Sutherland. As in the first half, Drostdy got stronger towards the end and scored three tries in the last six minutes. Mong scored his second by rounding the defence. A brilliant conversion from the touchline by Jasper put them 33-17 in front. Scrumhalf Eksteen and flank CJ van Rensburg scored the final two tries to leave the visitors convincing winners in an exciting opening festival game.
Kearsney: Tries: James Sutherland, Rob Koenig, Dyland Richardson; Conversions: Sutherland
HTS Drostdy: Tries: Christie Grobbelaar (2), Keanu Mong (2), Romeo Eksteen, CJ van Rensburg, Cohen Jasper; Conversions: Cohen Jasper (5)
10h45 - Selborne College 45-19 EG Jansen
Selborne played two games this far in 2017 beating Hudson Park 24-3 and then a willing and able Graeme College 20-15 in one of the best matches of 2017 so far. In the match against Graeme College, Selborne showed that they are a patient team that will slowly overpower their opponents with their big forwards and hard running backs. This was basically the same game plan Paarl Gim used against EG Jansen when beating them 10-39 at the Noord vs Suid Festival at Waterkloof. Prior to the Noord vs South Festival, EG Jansen was unbeaten in four matches beating Rustenburg 30-7, Voortrekker Bethlehem 40-10 and Garsfontein 47-15 with losing their first match at the Noord vs Suid Festival against Boland Landbou 21-65. It must also be mentioned that at the Noord vs South Festival EG Jansen was without four of their stars and all will be back except for their hooker Janus Venter. Without their stars, EG Jansen showed that they will not lie down and accept defeat and if compared with the Graeme College EG Jansen should be able to win this one.
Selborne showed that they will be one of the top sides at the festival this year when they played enterprising rugby and were fast to capitalise on mistakes. EG Jansen will be disappointed by their errors which gifted some points to Selborne.It was a good game with Selborne flair giving them a 46-19 win. The game was just five minutes old when Selborne lock Stephan Nieuwenhuizen burst through the defence to score an unconverted try for an early 5-0 lead.Selborne was much more cohesive in their pattern of attack. EG Jansen was very disjointed on the other hand and, when their forwards did win the ball, the backline could not get over the advantage line. This enabled the East London side to dominate and score a further three tries before half time. Scrumhalf Mitchell Connellan sniped over, and flyhalf David Coetzer went over after a handling mistake by EG Jansen. Both were converted by captain Coetzer. Coetzer was again involved as he made an inside pass from a half gap to No 8. Adam Mountfort for the fourth try under the posts. This was converted, to give Selborne a 24-0 half-time lead. Within the first minute of the second half Selborne, playing with 14 players after a yellow card late in the first half, recycled the ball from a ruck to left wing. Afrika Ndinisa scored in the corner to increase the lead to 29-0. With a number of changes, EG Jansen began looking more cohesive and used their forwards to pick and drive, ending in a try for lock Dominique McArthur, converted by Dylan Schwartz. Scrumhalf Connellan scored his second, Coetzer converted a penalty and Sibahle Khulani went over under the crossbar. Coetzer added the two points for a 39-7 lead. Regular flyhalf Ruben Beytell came on in the second half and showed that he had been missed when he had a determined run to dot down after a 25m run. EG Jansen’s third try went to fullback Franco van Eeden after some good interplay between the backs. Selborne struck back immediately and the impressive flyhalf showed his skills by again scoring in the corner and converting from the touchline for their impressive 46-19 win.
Selborne College: Tries: Kuhlane, Ndinisa, Coetzer (2), Connellan, Mountfort, Nieuwenhuizen; Conversions: Coetzee (3); Penalty: Coetzee (1)
Dr EG Jansen: Tries: Van Eeden, McArthur, Bytell; Conversions: Schwartz
12h00 - Queen's College 15-22 Pretoria Boys High
Pretoria Boys High lost all of their matches in 2017 losing against Oos Moot 25-20, Noordheuwel 8-10 and KES 0-31. PBHS is busy rebuilding their rugby and with ex Glenwood coach, appointed Jan 2017 in charge Queen's will meet a prepared and willing Boys High. Queen's, on the other hand, won against Cambridge 25-5 and Stirling 18-10 before losing against Framesby 3-6 in a very close but boring encounter. Queen's have big forwards and fast backs but let's hope that the coaching staff will allow them to use some own initiative during their game. Queen's must be the favourite.
The third match of the festival, a tightly contested game between Queen’s College and Pretoria Boys High, was without the plethora of tries seen in the first two matches. Queen’s, back at the festival for the first time since 2009, held on despite giving away penalties that kept newcomers PBHS in the game; until the final minute where the boys from Pretoria got over for a win. Queen’s had the majority of possession in the first half, although most of the play took place between the two 22m areas. Queen’s opened the scoring with a penalty by flyhalf Keith Kroutz. Both teams were quick to recycle the ball, but the defences on both sides held. On one of the rare occasions that either side got close to the try-line, it was the Queen’s forwards who drove over and they were awarded a touchdown. This gave them an 8-0 lead. Pretoria’s flyhalfTayne Rivas converted a 40m penalty and then, on the stroke of halftime, a second easier penalty, to take them into halftime 6-8 behind. Early in the second half, a pass that didn’t go to hand enabled Queen’s centre Ilano Smith to kick ahead. A kind bounce and a sprint for the line enabled Queen’s to score their second try, with a good conversion in blustery conditions by Kroutz. Rivas was also successful with his third penalty to narrow the gap to 9-15. PBHS then had a five-minute period of attack in the 22m area. They were awarded a number of penalties but Queen’s did not back down. Eventually, Pretoria added another three points when Geordie Collaros was successful. PBHS had the opportunity of a long penalty to win the game with a minute to go, but the ball struck the upright. Their captain and eighth man Chris du Toit then broke through and used his long strides to get close to the poles, giving his team a dramatic 22-15 win after Collaros’ conversion.
Queen’s: Tries: Forwards, Smith; Conversion: Kroutz; Penalty: Kroutz
PBHS: Try: Du Toit; Conversion: Collaros; Penalties: Rivas (3), Collaros (2)
13h15 - Monnas 31-16 Dale College
Dale College won against Grens 21-10 and drew against Brandwag 21-21 at the Graeme College Rugby day. Dale is a "small" team with the attitude of a physical side twice their size. They prefer the direct line when attacking and does not fear any physicality. In Monnas they will not find, as with Brandwag a side that will run away from their massive forwards but find a side who knows how to combine a massive pack of forwards with some brilliant backline players. Monnas this year started off with victories against Welkom Gim 30-5, Pietersburg 85-13 after which they were beaten at Ellispark by Eldoraigne 22-27. The match against Eldoraigne was played without five of their players who attended the SARU u/18 training camp. In their last match in the TUKS Series quarter-finals, they managed a close victory against Middelburg HTS of 14-12. Monnas should win with ease but Dale will be no walkover.
Monument, with a very large pack of forwards, dominated the early stages of the fourth game. Dale had to feed on scraps but, as the first half grew longer, so they started getting more ball. Missed opportunities by Monnas frustrated the players and helped Dale to keep in touch. Dale opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty by the fullback and captain Aphelele Fassi. Monument struck back immediately, as their forwards moved up the field and, from a ruck close to the try line, flank Tristan Dullisear dived over. The try was converted by Jonathan Viljoen for a 7-3 lead. Monument continued to have the lion’s share of possession, winning lineouts with comparative ease and dominating the tight phases. From a scrum, a well-rehearsed move saw the ball spinning wide and No 8 PJ Jacobs took an inside pass to go over. Viljoen added the extra points and a 14-3 lead midway through the half. A mistake ensued by Dale when an attack was picked up by centre Luke Rossouw and he went over under the posts. With the conversion by Viljoen, things looked ominous for Dale, now 3-21 behind. A second Fassi penalty from a long way out lifted the Dale spirits. They began to get more possession and, with a move where the ball was kept in hand, flank BuhleQaba went over on half-time. The conversion into the wind went wide but Dale had narrowed the gap to 11-21 at the break. In the second half, with 21 minutes remaining, a Dale player was red-carded for a punch, but Dale did not give up. This was followed by a Monument player being sent off with a yellow card, meaning both sides had 14 players. Dale came back with a try by hooker Mikhaya Sonqishe. From a lineout, Monnas flank PJ Jacobs taking the ball at the back went over for an unconverted try for a 26-16 lead. Dale with one man less held on while Monument made crucial mistakes. In referees’ time, Monument’s Larko Lindes drove over, giving Monument a 33-16 win.
Monument: Tries: Rossouw, Jacobs (2), Dulliseam, Lindes; Conversions: Viljoen (4)
Dale: Tries: Qaba, Sonquishe; Penalties: Fassi (2)
14h30 - Glenwood 21-10 Framesby
Glenwood was very inactive in 2017 up to this stage with only a practise match against Hilton, where nobody bothered to keep score and a victory against Voortrekker Hoër from Pietermaritzburg. They meet an impressive Framesby side who won both of their outings beating Oudshoorn 43-12 and Queen's College 6-3. Framesby is a big powerful team who is sticking to their game plan which may be boring at times. The winner I am not risking it on this one but Framesby will be a very hard nut to crack.
The wind brought rain which affected ball handling, making it sufficiently greasy for passes to be dropped. Towards the end of the game, the rain became heavier, so much of the play was amongst the forwards. Framesby did not give up and spent most of the last 10 minutes in the Glenwood half. There were some big tackles by both sides as play moved from end to end. Glenwood arguably held the ascendancy, but Frames by won enough loose ball to make their own forays towards the Glenwood line. The Durban side went into the lead after 10 minutes when left wing Morne van Rensburg managed to burst through for a five-pointer. He converted his own try. Framesby flyhalf Riaan van Rensburg replied with a penalty but neither side could get away. With the halftime whistle imminent, centre Grayson Ditlow went over after an attack down the left-hand touchline. It was converted by Van Rensburg for the Port Elizabeth boys to lead 10-7 at the break. In the second half Glenwood grew in confidence and their flyhalf Dylan Pretorius snaked through again, with a conversion by Van Rensburg, for a 14-10 lead. Framesby came close to scoring but the Glenwood space and two passes later, Van Rensburg saw the try line, to score his second try. His conversion put Glenwood 21-10 in front. Glenwood held on and with numerous changes occurring, some due to injury, the local team managed a 21-10 win.
Glenwood: Tries: M van Rensburg (2), Pretorius; Conversions: Van Rensburg (3)
Framesby: Tries: Ditlow; Conversion: R van Rensburg; Penalty: Van Rensburg
15h45 - Middelburg HTS 21-19 Noord Kaap
Middelburg HTS is maybe not the same quality of previous years but their fighting spirit and never say die attitude still makes them a very dangerous team. They started the season with a loss against Transvalia with 10-18. Three victories followed against Nelspruit 25-22, Florida 38-29 and Klerksdorp 59-10 after which they lost the Tuks Super Series quarter-finals 12-14 against Monnas. Noord Kaap started with wins against Klerksdorp 82-0 and Louis Botha HTS 17-13 after they lost against Menlopark 36-37. In their last match, they have won against Upington 48-11. These two sides seem evenly matched but Middelburg HTS must be the favourite even if it is only because they know how to win in tight matches.
The final match on the first day of KERF was keenly contested by HTS Middelburg and Hoerskool Noord-Kaap. Middelburg had the better of the early exchanges but as the game progressed Noord-Kaap grew in confidence. At halftime, it was HTS who had scored two tries, to the one of Noord-Kaap. The scoring was opened by Middelburg when flyhalfMorneSonnekus kicked a long penalty. Noord-Kaap backs showed a lot of pace and it came as no surprise when fullback Cameron Hufke picked up a loose ball and beat the defence for a 5-3 lead.Andries Koen made a good break to put HTS in front again and before the break, the heavier HTS forwards set up a maul from a penalty close to the try line. They rolled forward with lock Dolf Rossouw barging over and putting his side into a 13-5 halftime advantage. Noord-Kaap scored first in the second half after Yaseer Daniels used pace to go over near the touchline. Hufke, a three-pointer with a brilliant conversion in the conditions, narrowed the gap to a single point. Sonne scored a three-pointer and shortly thereafter HTS hooker and captain Duart Willemse did well to squirm over to increase their lead to 21-12. Both teams were enterprising in the last quarter with the ball moving through numerous hands and defences holding. Noord-Kaap prop Conrad Aswegen had made some telling runs and, with minutes to play, he had another; breaking through the defensive line and passing to centre Wium Becker who dived over this time, giving Hufke an easy conversion to narrow the gap to two points with two minutes remaining. In the dying seconds, Noord-Kaap had possession and very nearly took the victory away from HTS. But it was the Middelburg team who narrowly won 21-19.
HTS Middelburg: Tries: Koen, Rossouw, Willemse; Penalties: Sonnekus (2)
Noord-Kaap: Tries: Hufke, Daniels, Becker; Conversions: Hufke (2)