Late heroics help South Coast Warriors back to the summit

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By Quintin van Jaarsveld

The Fidelity South Coast Warriors scored what could prove to be a season-defining win when they edged Richards Bay 25-24 on Saturday to return to the top of the First Division South Section log.

With just two games to follow, the top-of-the-table clash would have major title implications and tensions were running high.

Although it was a higher scoring affair, the match played out very similarly to the teams’ first meeting.

Like in the match in Uvongo in May, there were little to choose between the teams and just like the meeting at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds, when Richards Bay suffered their first loss (9-5) of the season, the Warriors consigned them to another first, snapping the men from the Bay’s unbeaten home record.

The crunch clash was expected to be close and goal-kicking was set to be crucial – and both of these predictions rung true.

Fit-again fullback Dylan Kroon (pictured above) was the man entrusted with the goal-kicking duties and rose to the occasion in the Richards Bay cauldron by slotting a match-winning penalty at the death.

Kroon was in good nick all afternoon, missing just one kick at goal and scoring 10 points in an accomplished Man of the Match performance.

Warriors coach Christo Henderson hailed Kroon’s heroics.

“Dylan’s kicking was outstanding. He really kept his cool, especially with the high pressure, game-deciding penalty at the end,” Henderson told eHowz!t.

Star flank Kyle van Deventer continued where he left off in his first match back from injury and won the forwards Man of the Match award with his breakdown nous.

“Kyle was awesome with ball in hand and didn’t concede any penalties with his ability to contest for the loose ball. He really showed his class,” said Henderson.

The Warriors bucked their trend of slow starts as they raced into a 15-point lead after Kroon kicked an early penalty and David van Zyl and Donovan Horne went over for tries, Kroon converting the first.

Richards Bay closed the gap to three before Dawie Durrheim gave the visitors some breathing space with a seven-pointer.

Richards Bay continued to rally and responded well from losing a man to a yellow card, edging closer with a try before a fourth five-pointer saw them take a 24-22 lead.

Their poor place-kicking cost them dearly and their indiscipline came back to haunt them as they conceded a late penalty, which Kroon coolly slotted to win it for the Warriors.

With the victory, the Warriors returned to the summit on 48 points with Richards Bay just two points adrift after picking up two bonus points. Harlequins are third on 39 points with a game in hand.

“This is without a doubt our best win of the season,” said Henderson.

“It’s a big step forward for us as we now have our destiny in our own hands again.

“If we win our next two games with bonus points it doesn’t matter what Richards Bay or Harlequins do in their last two games and that’s exactly where we wanted to be at this stage of the season.”

Henderson said while Kroon and Van Deventer were instrumental, it was a team effort that got them over the line.

“The boys really showed guts and team work.

“Our forwards were outstanding. We dominated the scrums, lineouts and rucks, which made it easier for the backline on attack and defence.

“If you look at the squad that we took up this weekend, it is one unit. The boys want to play for the jersey and wanted to win so badly. That brotherhood, hunger and outstanding discipline is a winning recipe.

“The performance showed how much this team have grown since January and that there are bigger things to come.”

Warriors second team suffer tough loss

A depleted Warriors second team’s slim title hopes were dashed following a 55-7 loss to their Richards Bay rivals.

Coach Neill Theunissen was disappointed with the result but said there’s still plenty to play for.

“It all boils down to communication, support and continuity,” said Theunissen.

“We have quite a few senior players who are injured, which makes matters difficult, but we still have two matches to play and if all goes well we can end up third on the log.”

Warriors third team eye final berth

The Warriors third team host Amangcesha on Wednesday (16 July) at 7pm knowing that a win, followed by a win in their last league game on 30 July, would earn them a place in the final against Scottburgh.

Training is at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm.

Photos by Andre Koekemoer

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