Visitors Rondebosch Boys’ High School gave hosts The South African College High School (SACS) a lesson in wet weather rugby and duly ran out fairly comfortable 24-5 winners (half-time: 10-0) in their much anticipated derby clash. Having barely played rugby in wet and muddy conditions for the past three seasons it was always going to be a matter of who adjusted best. In doing so Rondebosch came up trumps on the Memorial A-Field for the second year in a row.
SACS started badly by not gathering the kick-off, exiting poorly and giving Rondebosch a chance to flex their muscles early. Rondebosch didn’t maul as expected but peeled off into the vacuum and generated some early pressure resulting in a penalty, converted by centre Ross Stone.
SACS went onto the attack for the next fifteen minutes. The Rondebosch defence was excellent but SACS needed to use this opportunity to score in what was always going to be a low scoring encounter given the underfoot conditions. Poor option taking and handling errors meant the crucially SACS didn’t convert this early period of extended pressure into points. This ultimately played a huge part in them eventually losing the game.
As so often happens when Rondebosch managed to escape and set up a lineout inside the SACS half they used their strong maul to milk a penalty. Rondebosch tapped quickly and the ball was released to the magnificent Dalvon Blood, who needs no second invitation when the try-line is at his mercy. He finished expertly in the corner and Stone nailed the conversion from out wide to see Rondebosch take a crucial ten-point lead going into the interval.
The wind was swirling on a blustery winters morning at SACS but predominantly favoured the hosts in the second half. SACS duly capitalised and scored early in the second half after a period of phase play. They managed to squeeze hooker Anathi Kalipa over near the corner flag. Wing Matthew Hayes failed to convert.
Both teams continued to play enterprising rugby in the conditions and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats for the next twenty minutes. Rondebosch building momentum through a series of pick-and-go’s, cleverly realising that a penalty would put them out of reach of SACS. SACS eventually turned Rondebosch over under their poles in what seemed like a momentum changing moment. Instead of gathering composure after a prolonged period of defence SACS inexplicably decided to tap and run. They knocked on one phase later and found themselves back under pressure.
SACS did eventually manage to escape and move back onto the attack but physical defence kept them at bay. With seven minutes to go Rondebosch had the ball just inside their own half. A deft grubber left SACS fullback Ross Letcher in two minds. Rondebosch flyhalf Conor van Eden didn’t need a second invitation to nudge the ball further ahead, regather and deliver the killer blow!
In the final minute Rondebosch put the cherry on the cake when the freed up speedster Thoubaan Gabriels on the right. He raced in under the posts and Stone chipped over another easy conversion to send the visiting supporters in raptures.
Both teams have one last derby left this term. SACS head over the hill to Wynberg and Rondebosch host Bishops. Both a massive derby encounters and fitting finales to hectic terms.
Try: Anathi Kalipa
Tries: Dalvon Blood, Thoubaan Gabriels, Conor van Eden
Conversions: Ross Stone (3)
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