Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Riversmead South Coast Warriors suffered their first loss of the First Division season when they were pipped 29-27 by Hillcrest on Friday night.
The two form sides of the competition put on a thriller with the hosts eking out the win in a match of two halves.
The visiting Warriors stormed out of the gate and led 22-10 at half-time thanks to tries by Luyanda Sithole (2) and Tienie Viljoen, with Arnold Kruger slotting two conversions and a penalty.
Hillcrest, however, fought back after the break and took the lead following three converted tries.
With five minutes left, the Warriors scored their first points of the second half as Rameez Allie went over in the corner, but Kruger’s conversion attempt to level the scores went wide.
The Warriors launched a desperate last-ditch attack from the restart but coughed up the ball around the halfway line, handing Hillcrest the win.
Tian Malherbe (forwards) and Allie (backline) received the Man of the Match honours.
A disappointed Warriors captain, Chris Mitchell, felt they were their own worst enemy.
“It’s a tough loss because we threw it away,” Mitchell told eHowzit.
“They are a decent side, but we stopped playing rugby in the second half. The boys played out their boots in the first half and forgot to finish off the job.”
The second team lost 31-10 to their Hillcrest counterparts, while the Under-20s were edged 17-14 by Midlands in their A League encounter.
Flyhalf Marcus Botha scored all of the second team’s points. The side were in it at half-time, trailing 14-10, before the hosts pulled away in the second stanza.
Men of the Match were Brenden Rademeyer (forwards) and Sam Nkwentsha (backline).
Despite the defeat, coach Gromingo Mzunga was pleased with aspects of his charges’ play, saying, “I was very happy with the players’ effort and defense.”
The Under-20s, meanwhile, lost in heart-breaking fashion in Pietermaritzburg.
Converted tries by star wing Bongo Dlamini and replacement hooker Andries Pretorius saw the Warriors lead 14-10 after trailing 10-7 at half-time.
The visitors suffered a big blow when Dlamini, who’d also kicked the two conversions, limped off.
With the final hooter already gone and metres from their try line, the Warriors conceded a turnover and Midlands capitalised to score the winning try.
Lock Juandre de Beer was outstanding and received the Man of the Match award.
The Warriors will look to get back in the win column at home this week.
The Under-20s will kick-off the action against Crusaders on Wednesday at 8pm.
The senior sides will then welcome Jaguars to Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Thursday evening.
The second teams will face-off at 7pm followed by the first team clash at 8.30pm.
Photo by Vicky Topham