There were some interesting clashes on the Green Mile last night as several of the top contenders were in action including last years finalists up against some of the title hopefuls for this year. The wind was always going to limit the creativity on the night but despite this, there was still some fantastic rugby on display.
The first match to kick off the evening’s rugby was Spanners vs. Ubumbo. Spanners started off playing into a stiff wind that was causing a lot of problems for their backline. Despite this they still managed to score first against a hefty Ubumbo side to give them a 5-0 lead. Ubumbo came back strongly but the Spanners boys defended well for the majority of the half and it wasn’t until the end of the half that Ubumbo managed to finally cross the whitewash to take a 7-5 lead into half time. Coming back for the second half the Spanners boys looked good playing with the wind and they held most of the territory too with several scrums on the opposition 5 meter line. Despite this they couldn’t make their territory and possession turn into points as Ubumbo turned on the physicality in defence which also allowed them to counter attack very effectively for their second try. Final score 12-5 to Ubumbo.
Turtles took on Clarendon on the C-field and once again playing with the wind in the 1st half proved to be a deciding factor. Playing with the wind Clarendon scored a penalty and a converted try in the first half to take a 10-0 lead into the break. The match followed much the same pattern as the Ubumbo match as the 2nd half was characterized by strong defence from Clarendon who tackled like demons time and again until they forced the turnover whereupon their flyhalf did an excellent job kicking into the wind to clear their line. Despite their strong defence Turtles did manage to score a try late in the second half but it was too little too late.
The first match that drew everyone’s interest was the Cobra’s vs. the Wildboys match. The match was billed as one of the highlights of the week and it certainly lived up to its potential. The Wildboys put up more of a fight than any of the Cobra’s previous opposition though ultimately it was not enough to stop them running out victors on the day.
It was action from the word go as the Cobra’s backs made some strong runs deep into Wildboys territory. Wildboys were not looking bad initially but Cobra’s managed to gain the extra one or two meters in the contact situation that ensured quick ball and that the Wildboys were always on the back foot. The Cobra’s were cruising with ten minutes to go as they had run in 3 unanswered tries despite the Wildboys stringing together some good attacks. The Wildboys, who had looked dangerous at many points in the match, refused to lie down though and finally delivered on their potential and scored a try. Thereafter the last ten minutes were fast paced and frenetic. Ultimately though, they had left too much for themselves to do to win the match which resulted in one of their forays into Cobra’s territory being turned over and through some clever Cobra’s play a bonus point try being scored under the poles to add insult to injury.
Nadoes took on a determined Panthers side on the A-field. The Panthers have traditionally been one of Nadoes strongest rivals with them meeting in the knockout stages of pervious competitions several times. The last time went down to penalty kicks as the scores were still deadlocked after extra time with the Nadoes eventually triumphing.
On Wednesday the Panthers were the first out of the starting blocks however as they took the game to the strong Nadoes outfit which resulted in a fantastic try for the Panthers Devon Kerr to put them up 7-0 within the first 2 minutes. The shock of conceding a try so early galvanized the Nadoes into action though as they fought back hard to protect their unbeaten run in the competition so far. They piled on the pressure forcing the Panthers to put their bodies on the line time and again to keep them out. Eventually the sustained pressure told and the Nadoes equalized. Thereafter the Panthers spent most of the match defending with their attacking options being limited to counter attacks from the odd turnover as the Nadoes continued to exert the pressure and rack up the points.
The final score was 28-7 to the Nadoes and though they were definitely made to work harder for this win than any other, they showed composure after going 7-0 down to come back firing and take the match.
The Barbarians took on Shebeen boys in what was likely a group B table topping decider. The Baa Baa’s played into the wind in the first half but despite this controlled most of the territory and possession as they camped within the Shebbies 22m line. Rob Ferguson, the Baa Baa’s no. 8 was in particularly sublime form as he ran through defenders at will. The pressure told on the Shebeen boys as they conceded two penalties within striking distance and, playing into a stiff breeze the Baa Baa’s made full use to kick over both to make the score 6-0. The Shebeen boys were not about to squander the advantage of playing with the wind however as they attacked the Baa Baa’s line with more determination. Baa Baa’s initially managed to keep them out with good defensive lines and hard rucking until eventually the Shebeen Boys flyhalf, Chris Roodt, slipped two tackles to make it in for a sensational individual try that was duly converted.
This left the score at 7-6 at half time and tempers were starting to get frayed on both sides due to an excessive amount of chirping. Despite this the Baa Baa’s came out firing once again and piled on the pressure. They earned themselves another penalty which was again duly slotted to put the Baa Baa’s back into the lead. Thereafter the Baa Baa’s spent all of their time in the opposition half and looked like scoring every time they touched the ball. However, due to a combination of desperate defense and choking at the final hurdle, Shebeen boys managed to keep them out.
With 2 minutes left to go and Baa Baa’s getting more and more frustrated, flyhalf Luke Tomlinson went for the drop goal and scored it sending the spectators into wild cheers. This left the final score at 12-7 though, if truth be told the Baa Baa’s should have scored several times throughout the match but all too often the final pass didn’t go to hand or the wrong option was taken. The Baa Baa’s certainly looked a better outfit in their second game of the year but they will need to work on converting their possession and pressure into points as the Shebeen boys defense managed to break down some promising moves at the last hurdle. Ultimately, the Baa Baa’s played the smarter tactical game considering the conditions and got the deserved victory as a result.