Schoolboy Rugby – Selborne And Graeme In Thrilling Finish To Graeme Rugby Festival


Graeme College and Selborne delivered another pulsating finish to the Graeme Rugby Festival in Makhanda on Saturday as the latter team defended heroically in the closing stages to secure a narrow 14-07 victory.

It was a fitting finale to another entertaining programme of schoolboy rugby over the three days, with all the teams gaining invaluable preparation for the forthcoming season.

Though Graeme was first to score when they sliced open the Selborne defence early on for Xolisa Mdyesha to cross for a converted try, the team from East London dominated much of the game.

They levelled matters when centre Siyamthanda Sakhele forced his way over just before halftime and, with the wind at their backs, kept Graeme pegged back in their own territory in the second half.

Both sides were committed on defence, but Selborne’s pressure eventually told with a penalty try to make it 14-7.

It is to Graeme’s immense credit that, even with their lineouts not always working efficiently, they kept their opponents at bay and then forced their way upfield through several penalties late in the game.

This was when the character of the Selborne team needed to be revealed and they answered the call with enormous courage and organisation on defence as they kept out wave after wave of Graeme attacks.

Eventually, they were able to steal the ball at a breakdown and booted it out to clinch a hard-earned victory.

Earlier, Pearson flyhalf Caleb Friskin showed some quicksilver footwork to score a vital second-half try, helping his team to a notable 19-11 win over Queen’s.

This came after Queen’s had shown plenty of courage to fight back from 12-0 down to leave the match in the balance at the break on a score of 12-11.

First-half tries by No 9 Denillo Jordaan, in the opening minute, and wing Christoph Williams after a fine backline move saw Pearson set up their handy lead.

But Queen’s stuck to their task and two penalties by No 9 Ryan Denston and an opportunistic effort by Jameel Fleshman when he capitalised on a Pearson error saw the lead eroded to one point.

In the second half, however, the Queenians made hard work of exiting their territory playing into the breeze and Pearson’s defence was up to the task as they kept a lid on their opponents’ offensive effort for a hard-earned win.

Cambridge produced a surging second-half fightback to register a thrilling 24-21 win over Muir in the opening match of the day.

While the Kariega side assumed control of the first period, running in tries by Jethro Seconds, Brent Koraan and Phiwokuhle Mbali for a 21-5 lead at the break, it was all Cambridge in the second half.

Granted, they had the breeze at their backs, but they must receive full accolades for the way they got back into the game through some determined running every time they visited the Muir 22-metre area.

After an opening score by Sibonginstsika Maki in the first half, their second-half efforts led to tries by Avumile Galwa, Sive Ngxoweni and Lisakhanya Mgoxo, while two conversions by Maki helped them overhaul the Muir tally.

Following a try in the opening stages by ace flyhalf Logan Muller, Framesby cruised to a 43-0 victory over Stirling, dominating their opponents up front and running in seven tries.

Muller’s educated left boot meant the East London team were constantly under pressure, especially when they played into the wind.

As the penalties mounted, Framesby simply kicked for the corner and used their effective maul to cross for four second-half tries and an emphatic win.

The St Andrew’s trio of wing Julian Mapoore, No 8 Ucwambu Mgudlwa and fullback Karabo van Heerden each scored a brace of tries as they defeated Brandwag 34-19.

Playing with great pace, the Andreans delivered constant pressure and although the match was fairly evenly poised at 17-12 going into the second half, three tries in succession saw them shoot out to a 34-12 lead and there was no way back to victory for the Kariega team.

1stXV Results - March 16

Cambridge 24-21 Muir 
Framesby 43-00 Stirling
Pearson 19-11 Queen’s 
St Andrew’s 34-19 Brandwag
Selborne 14-07 Graeme College