Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Riversmead South Coast Warriors put their year-long rivalry with Hillcrest to bed when they earned a 17-7 win in their Hollywoodbets Murray Cup clash at Durban Shongweni Club on Saturday.
The Warriors returned to the scene of their only loss this year to settle the score in the rubber match, with the sides deadlocked at 1-1 after having won their home league meetings.
The men from the South Coast pipped Villagers to the First Division South Section title, adding fuel to the fire, and the weekend’s encounter would prove once and for all who the better team is.
The sides, however, couldn’t afford to be swept up in the emotion of the encounter as a place in the quarterfinals of the Murray Cup – one of the oldest club rugby competitions in the world dating back to 1890 – was at stake.
The Warriors took control of the contest from the onset as No 10 Brandt Fields scored the opening try.
The new competition rules immediately came into play as this try was an automatic seven-pointer due to it being scored in the first 10 minutes.
A timely try by centre Donovan Horne just before the break saw the Warriors enjoy a 12-0 lead at half-time.
The hosts put up a fight and opened their account with a converted try early in the second half. They dominated possession for the remainder of the match but couldn’t crack the resolute defense of the Warriors and a late five-pointer by wing Senanelo Ndlazi ensured the Warriors returned home with the win.
Fields was the Warriors’ official Man of the Match, while the internal player of the game gongs went to hooker and captain Chris Mitchell (forwards) and centre Rameez Allie (backline).
“It’s always hard to win at Hillcrest, so the win felt amazing,” Mitchell told eHowzit.
“Winning the third match is the cherry on top because they were all saying that we didn’t deserve to win [the league], so beating them on their home ground in front of their home crowd shows that we’re the better team.
“We didn’t play our best rugby, but our defense was on point. It was a very physical game with big hits on both sides.”
Team manager Francois Slippers said it was another memorable day for the tight-knit Warriors.
“I would like to thank the Murray Cup tournament sponsor Hollywoodbets and our hosts Hillcrest for a wonderful game.
“Thanks to our sponsors Riversmead farm and Status Panelbeaters for their loyal support, and a special thanks to our two committed club committee members Pieter Smit and Nico Potgieter; without these two lads, the club would not exist.”
At Monday night’s draw, the Warriors’ quarterfinal assignment was confirmed – a trip to Pietermaritzburg to take on UKZN on Saturday.
Mitchell said their preparation this week will be a matter of fine tuning. “We are just going to tighten up our game plan. We are on a high and we want this feeling to last.”