Grey College from Bloemfontein travelled to Pretoria where they withstood a gutsy performance from Pretoria Boys High to claim a narrow 34-29 victory.
Grey College, playing with only six of their first choice players, started out well and launched attack after attack on the Boys High midfield. PBH stood tall and defended really well to frustrate Grey at the breakdowns. At one stage Grey crossed over the try-line, but a desperate tackle from PBH dislodged the ball and PBH was awarded the scrum, after which they successfully cleared their line.
PBH’s forward pack worked really hard and after 13minutes they managed three penalties from Grey ruck infringements. PBH flyhalf Matthew Currie kicked them up the field and into position where he converted the third penalty to open PBH’s score.
Grey struck back immediately, with a forward onslaught that had PBH scrambling on defence. After taking quick taps from two penalties, Anrich Bitzi was awarded a rather controversial try. In the act of scoring, it looked like he lost control of the ball but the referee awarded the try amongst the protesting PBH players. Niel Marais failed to convert the try and Grey went ahead 5-3 after 16minutes.
PBH went straight back to their attacking game and put Grey under serious pressure. They obviously wanted to target Grey right-winger Sethu Tom and managed a few breaks, but their finishing were disappointing and they handed possession over with poor tactical kicks. After 10 minutes of constant attacking they only had another penalty to show for their efforts.
Grey scored their second try through centre Inus Keyser after a set move from a great maul opened up the midfield. Niel Marais had no problem with the conversion to put Grey 12-6 ahead.
It was however PBH who had the final say of the first half when solid work from the forwards put flanker Neil Barnardt over from a ruck. Currie converted and you could hear the buzz in the crowd as they couldn’t believe Boys High was leading Grey College 13-12 at half-time.
The Grey team could be seen getting a tongue lashing during the break, and it seemed to pay off as they picked up the intensity, kept the ball tighter and tried less of those 50/50 passes that saw them lose so much of their possession in the first half.
Grey struck twice within the first 5minutes of the second half, first through a Niel Marais penalty and seconds later through a converted try from a Grey substitute player.
With the score at 22-13 it looked like the second half was going to be a one-sided affair, but PBH refused to stand back, and kept pounding away at the Grey midfield where they were rewarded with yet another three points through Matthew Currie’s boot.
During one of PBH’s attacking scrums they lost just a moment of concentration and when the ball spilled out of the back, Grey captain Nicol Linde pounced and ran all of 40 meters for Grey’s fourth try of the match. Niel Marais pushed a difficult conversion wide.
PBH flyhalf Matthew Currie then orchestrated a massive onslaught on the Grey midfield to put his side back in the game, slotting a further two penalties and trailing Grey 27-22 after 25minutes of the second half.
Grey received a warning from the referee after repeated ruck infringements, with only five points ahead and 10 minutes remaining they could not afford to be one man down against a spirited PBH attack.
It was heartbreak for the PBH players when another poor tactical kick was snatched from the air by Grey winger Sethu Tom and returned with interest. The ensuing lineout led to Grey’s fifth and final try when flyhalf Niel Marais forced his way over the line and then converted his own try, putting Grey 34-22 ahead, with only 2minutes of play remaining.
It was an almost exact replay of the first half as the PBH forwards showed great strength and determination to put their hooker Elliot-Murray over for their second try. While Currie was putting the conversion over you could see the players still had a glimmer of hope to snatch victory in the dying seconds.
That hope was soon crushed as the referee blew his final whistle to seal Grey’s victory.
Niel Marais, Inus Keyser, Sethu Tom and lock Cobus Nel each had a good game for Grey while Matthew Currie and the entire PBH forward pack of Fjastad, Elliot-Murray, Kerrod, Mare, De Waal, Maake, Barnardt and Pretorius contributed to their spirited performance.
[Article by James Loretz for www.rugby15.co.za] [firstname.lastname@example.org]