Affies beat Helpies 31-19 in Johannesburg: The sweet taste of revenge
Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool 1XV rugby from Pretoria beat Helpmekaar Kollege from Johannesburg 31-19 on Saturday 18 March 2017, after leading half time by 12 points to 9. Four minutes into the 2nd half it was all square at 12 all after the fourth penalty by Oosthuizen, but then Affies pulled away scoring a total of five tries to one to secure the match.
Helpies have been unbeaten on their home ground since under-14 and only losing 3 matches through the age groups, whilst convincingly beating many so-called macro teams on their journey, including the likes of Affies, Garsfontein and Waterkloof. Affies arrived with their solid rugby pedigree and revenge (over the u15 and u16 losses to Helpies) in their hearts. But it was to be a day without the brightest stars, with both teams losing out on the players that attended the SARU U18 camp in Wellington.
Affies, a traditional all-boys rugby school, is a team that will always attract a lot of attention, although it is widely regarded that they lack a bit of experience and grunt up front compared to the class of 2016.
The game was played under a hot midday sun, with little wind to cool down matters on the field. As an early season clash, it was clear that both teams were still finding themselves and technically the match was not of a high standard as both teams struggled to get into the phases, especially in the first half where it took almost 20 minutes for Affies to get more than 5 phases going, catching Helpies’ David Cary out of position to almost set up a first try of the match through Affies’ flyhalf Charles Goedhals. That was to be their only run of play that went into more than 5 phases in that half, with Helpies also only achieving this once. At this level, more can be expected, but perhaps this underlines the characteristics of this bruising encounter up front and the early-season timing of the clash.
After less than 2 minutes Helpies were on the scoreboard trough a penalty kick by their flyhalf and captain on the day, Tristan Oosthuizen. This was to be the start of the Affies penalty woes as they eventually conceded 14 penalties, to the 2 of Helpmekaar.
With the scoreboard at 3-0 to the home side Affies took the kick-off and immediately applied pressure, leading to a penalty against Helpies virtually on their try line. Opensider Ben Clarke was controversially sent to the sin bin and flashes of the 2016 binning of Tiaan van der Merwe with the resultant outcome (Affies winning it 58-10) were soon supported as Affies kicked to the corner to set up a lineout for hooker Janco Uys to score the first of his two tries. Goedhals converted. Within 5 minutes it was 7-3 to Affies.
As Helpies took the kick-off the crowd was entertained by the first glimpse of Affies guts as the high ball was secured by lock Els in what was to be the first of many stunning plays in the air by the boys from Pretoria.
The game was hard up front and at times a bit sloppy at the back.
The lineout battle was of a high standard, with hookers Janco Uys and the very physical Dameon Venter from Helpmekaar launching accurate balls to willing jumping pods. Although basically all the lineouts were contested, Affies secured all of their 9 lineouts and Helpies conceding only one out of 10, so in all a great match in this important phase of play.
The scrums were a bit of a different story, with both teams struggling on the tighthead side of the scrum. There were far too many scrums, an indication of the many handling errors and the struggle of the teams to get into the phases of play. Affies won 11 of their 14 scrums, conceding one heel against the head and two penalties. Helpies won 8 of their 11 scrums, also conceding one heel against the head and two penalties. The quality of ball produced by the Affies pack was much better for captain Johan Mulder to work with than his counterpart Ruhan Viviers. Mulder had a very good game whilst Viviers was excellent in defence contesting a number of balls on the ground.
Speaking of which, Helpies were better on the ground on the day than Affies, led by a very active Clarke and the blindside Liam van den Berg, coupled with a physical onslaught from Venter and prop forward Ignis Meyer, securing 23 of their 25 balls in this aspect, with Affies securing only 10 of their 18 balls. Whilst Affies clearly missed Jaco Labuschagne at ruck time, Van den Berg was one of the best Helpies’ players on the day. Affies were penalised no less than 8 times in the rucks, an element of their play they will want to improve.
It was at penalty decision making time though that Affies were better off. Affies found their touch at will to set up play in their opponent’s territory, where Helpies opted to go for posts at every possible opportunity, yet although Oosthuizen slotted four quality penalty kicks, there were times where he seemed to take the game onto himself instead of setting up a lineout close to the opponents try line. With an excellent lineout performance, he could have backed his forwards a bit more to set up a platform from which to score tries, which was a team signature characteristic absentto a large extent on Saturday.
These decisions made the absence of the experienced captain Mark Snyman felt, as well as his ability to generate quick ruck ball, exploiting defensive organisation deficiencies to get his team on the front foot with blistering pace and take play to behind the opponents.
Helpies struggled to build phases and break the defensive line, partly due to too many handling errors in midfield. Apart from a few moments of individual brilliance, most notably by replacement Wasserman, Affies seemed to have an equal struggle to hold onto the ball in midfield and were clearly missing the line breaking power of centre Marnus Potgieter. Affies #8, Philip Potgieter, was really impressive with ball in hand and his general play was good, making him one of his team’s heroes of the day together with Mulder and Wasserman.
The match had its moments. Helpies #8 Lehan du Toit was a mere millisecond away from scoring early in the first half, with Affies pivot Goedhals getting to the ball in the nick of time after a good charge down by Helpies to kill it for his team, and when the referee blew the whistle for a handling error late in the game as Ruhan Viviers went over for a try near the posts which could have swung the momentum of the match back to Helpmekaar.
But there were moments like that for Affies as well, when Goedhals was pipped by Helpmekaar fullback David Cary as he was diving in an attempt to score the first try. At one stage Helpies were battering away at Affies’ line when a gap opened and outside centre Jeremy Randall scored his teams’ only try. Affies scored another a good forward try, through Uys, after mauling it up from the 22m of Helpmekaar to cross the white wash.
Apart from the two well executed mauls which resulted in tries to Affies, a sniping try was scored from a scrum by scrumhalf Johan Mulder, in yet another of the controversial moments of the match. Helpmekaar took a strong heel against the head and after the ball came into play the referee ordered a reset, which Affies dominated allowing the ever-alert Mulder to be too quick for the defence after a good ball from his pack to score a try.
The moment of the match which could sum up the affair was when Affies launched a kick-off 5 minutes into the second half. Affies, who had been brilliant in the air, collected the ball themselves through great lock play and set up multiple phases for Wasserman to eventually send Juandre Du Piesanie into space and over the try line.
It was ten minutes into the second half though that Affies secured the win in a few moments of individual brilliance by replacement Wasserman, who collected a spilt ball in midfield to burn rubber from his own red zone to put a flying Sean Thungo into space to score a beautiful try at the opposite end.
In their next match Affies will travel to Paarl to face Paarl Gymnasium, whilst Helpies will travel to Kroonstad to face Welkom Gymnasium in the Rooiskool Sports Day.
For Affies tries (5) by hooker Janco Uys(2), scrumhalf Johan Mulder, centre Juandré du Piesanie and winger Sean Thungo.
For Helpies try by outside centre Jeremy Randall. Tristan Oosthuizen kicked the conversion as well as added four penalty kicks.