The Riversmead South Coast Warriors scored a famous 27-26 win over Ethekweni Refractories Amanzimtoti in their opening Murray Cup clash at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Friday.
It was a Woman’s Day to remember at the Uvongo-based club where two very important games were played.
The Warriors Under-20s met Midlands in their last game of the season, with the winning team earning bragging rights in the form of finishing as one of the top three teams in KwaZulu-Natal.
Danie Swanepoel, coach of the Warriors Under-20s, managed to recruit local talent and players from the Sharks Academy SKZN to compete in KZN’s top rugby league, namely the Premier League.
Missed opportunities by the hosts saw Midlands win the game 15-13. Nevertheless, that Swanepoel was able to take his team from the bottom of the log last year to the top four this season is an incredible feat. The players and management can be proud of their exceptional season.
Then it was time for the main game. The Murray Cup, sponsored by Caste Lager and Hollywoodbets, is the oldest club competition in the world and pits Premier Division teams like Toti against First Division clubs like the Warriors.
With many players either injured or unavailable, the Warriors called on Kokstad stars Khaya Siqway (prop), Wonga Gede (prop), Vuyisanani Mdingi (lock), Unathi Mgugudo (hooker/loose forward) and Duan Strydom (loose forward) for the crunch clash.
Coach Juan van der Berg also dusted off his boots and lined up at inside centre, which saw Chris Mitchell shift to loose forward. In a major boost, star forward Lunga Madlala returned from injury. He played his heart out and scooped the Man of the Match award.
In an ultra-physical game, Devan van Eeden (outside centre), Darren Nyman (flyhalf) and Donovon Jonker dotted down for the Warriors, with Dylan Kroon adding the extras off the tee. Jonker’s try was the pick of the bunch; Johan Gericke’s kick bounced perfectly for the hosts, between two Amanzimtoti players, which saw Jonker collect the ball and score under the poles.
After an excellent first half the Warriors led 24-12 at half time. The Premier Division side used their big forwards to mount a comeback and reduced the deficit to just one with six minutes remaining. Through sheer guts and determination, the Warriors were able to hold off a relentless onslaught on their line to earn a hard-fought win.
The Warriors will now play Varsity College at Pietermaritzburg this Saturday. Coaches Van der Berg and Marchell Sass thank the committee – Niko Potgieter, Pieter Smit and Shannon Potgieter – for their hard work during the season.