Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Riversmead South Coast Warriors handed Hillcrest their first loss of the season when they recorded a convincing 26-7 win at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Saturday.
The First Division South Section top-of-the-table clash lived up to expectations and after nothing separated the sides at half-time, the hosts pulled away in the second half.
The bonus-point victory saw the Warriors avenge their sole defeat of the season against the selfsame Villagers and keep their unbeaten home record intact.
Due to their dominance throughout the campaign, this much-anticipated battle of the pacesetters was an unofficial final of sorts, with the winners likely to go on to clinch the South Section spoils.
The high stakes led to hard hits and high intensity as the teams threw everything at each other. Keeping composed in the Uvongo cauldron was going to be key.
Villagers got off to a perfect start with a seven-pointer in the second minute, but the Warriors hit back with a try by Brandt Fields, which he converted himself.
There was no further give from either side and they headed into the break at 7-7.
Tienie Viljoen put the Warriors in front for the first time when he crossed the whitewash in the 50th minute, with captain Chris Mitchell following suit five minutes later.
The latter proved to be a double blow for Hillcrest, as they were handed a yellow card for foul play as the home side’s skipper scored.
The hosts, however, made life hard for themselves as they conceded two yellow cards – Rameez Allie for a late tackle and Lourens Stapelberg for illegal scrummaging – with about 20 minutes to go.
There was no breaching the Warriors’ defence, though, even with just 13 men, and they secured the bonus point when Fatyela Kamevelihe went over five minutes from full time.
Fields and Marchell Sass each converted one of the second-half tries, while the Man of the Match honours went to Brendon Rademeyer in the pack and Donovan Horne in the backline.
“I’m a super proud captain after that performance,” Mitchell told eHowzit.
The nuggety No 9 said it was extra satisfying to clinch the game with a strong second-half performance given it’s been a problem period for them all season.
“For once, we played 80 minutes of rugby. We had a shaky start, but then when we got into our stride and it was good rugby to watch. The yellow cards at the end made it tough and we had to defend our line with 13 men, but the boys stepped up.”
The second team showed character to claim a 12-7 win over their Hillcrest rivals.
Hillcrest scored first in the first half due to a defensive error by the Warriors. The hosts, however, fought back in the second half with tries by Gromingo Mzungo and Keith Chiwara – one of which was converted by Nico Breedt – to seal the win.
Head coach Gromingo Mzunga said, “We made it a bit hard on ourselves by allowing Hillcrest to score, but I am very proud of the boys; they did very well.”
Consultant coach MG Roscher added, “It was a great win. We hope we can improve our log points before the end of the season. I am very proud of the boys.”
Thobani Chiliza (forwards) and Lwazi Madiba (backline) earned the Man of the Match awards.
The Warriors are back on the road this week as they head to Durban to tackle Jaguars on Friday night.
Photos by Francois Slippers