The Ikey Tigers concluded their 2013 season with a 26-7 win against SK Walmers on Saturday night, finishing-up what has been an impressive string of victories for the side.
The first half saw only one try, at the experienced hands of right winger Richard Stewart in the first five minutes, but the second half was far more eventful. In the final 15 minutes of the game, Stewart once again bounded over the white line, and Paul Cohen then had his chance to add a five-pointer. Of these tries, fly-half Ross Jones Davies converted two, and also managed to boot over another two penalties for the side, remaining as reliable as ever.
The game was a significant one not only because it was the final one of the WP Super League, but also because it was the last match for 1st XV Coach JJ Gagiano before he heads off to Bath. Catching up with him after the game he said, “it’s always nice to win as a coach, and with it being the last game, it was very satisfying.”
Trying not to get too sentimental, he added “it is all about the players” and the remarkable season they have had. Coming from a disappointing Varsity Cup season, the side have undergone immense growth together. “The team have grown phenomenally over the year, they are such a resilient bunch of guys, especially with all the changes that have happened, and all they want to do is learn is get better and play for the club and each other”, he said. The changes he refers to are the shifting procession of coaches who have taken their turns, stepping in to help out in the absence of Kevin Foote, who took up a position with the Western Force.
Gagiano added “we have made strides in becoming a team that can score from a variety of different ways.” Apart from being a typical UCT side that can run, they have now have more depth to their style of play. “Now our mauling function, our scrum is strong and our backs are kicking us into fantastic positions. So I feel that that we need to trust in these improvements more and continue to work on them”, he said.
Mirroring these views and generally commenting on his team’s vast improvements, scrum half Liam Slatem said “our goal was to win the league, and while we just weren't able to achieve that we certainly have grown as a team and have become a force to be reckoned with”.
Looking to the future, the team will no doubt seek to carry forward this momentum into off-season training, and ultimately into next year’s Varsity Cup. “I think that this season has allowed each player to see what they and their team mates are capable of and will give this group great encouragement next year”, said Slatem.
While the Ikeys failed to claim a bonus point in the game, which would have moved them up into second place on the log, their third place finish is ultimately impressive given their growth as a side. With their Intervarsity win, and their ‘unbeaten’ status at home during the League, it has been a great year for the Tigers.
Tries: Richard Stewart x2, Paul Cohen
Kicks: Ross Jones-Davies x4
Ikey Tigers Team vs SK Walmers
1. Joel Carew, 2. Neil Rautenbach, 3. Deacon Chowles, 4. Jade Kriel, 5. Brad Bosman, 6. Derek Asbun, 7. Tino Zakeyo, 8. Vincent Jobo, 9. Liam Slatem, 10. Ross Jones-Davies, 11. Paul Hendry, 12. Andre Coetzer, 13. Dylan Sage, 14. Richard Stewart, 15. Luke Bax.
16. Mike Kennedy, 17. David Maarsh, 18. Keagan Ehret, 19. Chris Roberts, 20. Dylon Frylink, 21. Paul Cohen, 22. Liheli Xoli
Written by Megan Kinnaird