By Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Fidelity South Coast Warriors bounced back from their loss to Harlequins with a hard-fought 9-5 win over Richards Bay at Douglas Mitchell Country Club on Saturday.
It was a character-filled performance by the Warriors, who proved they can overcome adversity and dig down deep when required.
Dig down deep is exactly what they needed to do in what was an uncompromising arm-wrestle against a formidable Richards Bay side who were unbeaten heading into the match.
The low-scoring encounter was tense throughout and at half-time, the Warriors held a slender 3-0 lead courtesy of a Dylan Kroon penalty.
The visitors hit the front and silenced the home crowd with an intercept try but missed the easy conversion 13 minutes into the second half.
The Warriors, however, kept their composure and regained the lead in the 68th minute through the boot of Kroon.
With seven minutes remaining, the fullback added a third penalty to stretch the lead to four and the Warriors held on to clear an important hurdle and keep their unbeaten home record intact.
Captain Juan van den Berg led the pack with aplomb but it was his Wildebeest XV teammate Chris Mitchell who was named Man of the Match following an influential performance in the No.9 jersey.
Coach Christo Henderson told eHowz!t: “I’m very pleased that we managed to bounce back, especially against such quality opposition, who were undefeated this season and runners-up last year.
“We had two massive and crucial games in two weeks, so I’m very happy with the win. We dominated the scrums, lineouts and rucks and our defence was awesome. The backline ran well and were very good under the high ball.”
Henderson, though, admitted that goal-kicking is a major area of concern as the Warriors missed five penalties, which would have changed the complexion of the match had they been slotted.
It was the first time this season that the Warriors had to defend a narrow lead and Henderson was satisfied with how his charges closed out the game.
“Our discipline and guts helped us through the game and the boys showed that they can play under pressure and handle it very well.”
It was a particularly memorable match for the Fourie family as brothers James and Josh were joined on the field by cousin Andries.
Meanwhile, the Warriors second team came good and earned their first win of the season as they thumped their Richards Bay counterparts 50-35 to secure a full five log points.
Stephan “Boxer” Slabbert (2), Alberto van Eck, Jackson Mqadi, Sifiso Damane (2), Jade Nyman and Piet Hlatshwayo all dotted down, with Van Eck (3) and Hlatshwayo (2) adding five conversions between them.
Man of the Match honours went to James Fourie in the forwards and Damane in the backline.