Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Riversmead South Coast Warriors beat UKZN 31-22 in a nail-biting affair at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Friday evening.
The Warriors’ led 24-12 at half-time and saw off a relentless second-half surge by the visitors to secure their second home win in a row.
The hosts were bolstered by veterans like captain Chris Mitchell, player/coach Juan van den Berg, Jaco Coetzee, Marchell Sass, Dawie Durrheim, Tian Malherbe and Christopher Sharpe – many of whom have represented Wildebeest Platteland – and had to rely on all of their experience to hang on.
Their 12-point half-time lead was cut to just two and with five minutes remaining, the visitors had a kick in front of the poles to take the lead. Fortunately for the Warriors, the kick hit the post.
Having dodged a bullet, the Warriors cemented the win with a converted try in the 79th minute.
The Warriors scored five tries through Donovan Horne (2), Rameez Allie, Durrheim and Jacques Coetzee, with Tienie Viljoen kicking three conversions.
The Man of the Match honours went to Lourens Stapelberg (forwards) and Horne (backline).
“It was a very stressful second half,” skipper Mitchell admitted.
“I’m very happy with the win and how the boys never gave up. We played against a Varsity Shield team and proved that we’ve stepped up our game.
“The first half was all about our attack; they couldn’t stop us due to our ‘old players’. The second half was all about defence because we knew that we’re a very fit team.
“For once this year, the boys left it all out on the field. We dominated the breakdowns and won the game in the forwards. I’m super proud of my boys.”
Mitchell was literally in the middle of the action as the scrumhalf, who’s converted to flank this season, made another positional switch – to hooker – for the final 15 minutes of the match.
“What a change,” he laughed when asked about his test run in the front row.
“I’ve been training at hooker this week in case we have an injury. I like contact, so I enjoyed the set-piece, and the running lines were awesome.
“I only had the one line-out throw and was on point with it, and we didn’t give away any turnovers at scrum time so it was a 100% success. I think I’ll have to train harder though because scrumming is tough,” he chuckled.
The second team game was shortened to 40 minutes due to UKZN arriving late. The visitors won 17-10, but the Warriors received the full five log points due to UKZN’s timing issue.
The Warriors scored a five-pointer early in the first half through flyhalf Wesley Nyman, with UKZN responding with a penalty minutes later.
The hosts’ defence let them down at crucial times, as well as their goal-kicking, which saw them trail 17-5 at the break.
An improved second-half performance was highlighted by fullback Christian Venter scoring a brilliant try. The Warriors created several more scoring opportunities but were unable to round off.
Quinton Edwards was named forward Man of the Match and Nyman earned the backline Man of the Match honours.
“If the game would have been 80 minutes, I’m sure we would’ve ended on top,” commented consultant coach MG Roscher.
“In the second half, we did very well on defence and attack. We just made a few handing errors that let us down. We’ll work hard to correct these errors before our next match.”
The Uvongo-based club will enjoy a bye this week before playing host to PMB Collegians next Saturday (19 May).
The second team match kicks off at 2pm followed by the first XI clash at 3.30pm.