Crunch time as Murray Cup reaches semis
Although it was a sad day for club rugby in KZN with the tragic death of Bidvest Insurance Crusaders club stalwart Brett van den Berg, who was killed in a motor accident in the early hours of Saturday morning, making it a sombre opening of the Hollywoodbets Murray Cup quarter-finals, it still turned out turned out to be a wonderful afternoon of club rugby, something Brett would certainly have approved of.
The quarter-finals never the less still managed to produce some hugely entertaining and enthralling rugby, none more so than the game hosted by the Durban North club, which saw the home side almost steal the game away from their more favoured visitors, SA Home Loans Durban Collegians, at the death.
The visitors, who eventually managed to hold on to win 44-43 after leading 36-17 at the break, were rattled as the game drew to a close and only just managed to escape with a hard fought victory .
Clearly it was a game of two halves with Crusaders winning the second half 26-8.
Collegians had started off with a bang and looked as though they were going to run riot to begin with, but they didn’t expect their hosts to make a huge comeback to almost steal victory from under their noses.
Crusaders in fact ended up outscoring their guests seven tries to six with the trusty boot of Jacques Venter the only difference that saw Collegians hold on to what turned out to be an epic victory.
The game was a classic and one of the finest played in years of this competition.
For Collegians, who would have learnt the harsh lesson that this game is played for 80 minutes, try-scorers included wings Ruan van Rensburg and Siyamthanda Mbanga, scrumhalf Matt Seba, prop Linda Thwala and No 8 Fanelesibonga Zwane who was named Man of the Match.
The remaining points came from the boot of Venter who kicked two penalties and four conversions.
Crusaders replied with two tries each from under-20 wing Luwi Mngadi and No 8 Curtley Johnson, with the others going to wing Mawanda Boyana, centre Steve Strydom and George van Niekerk coming off the bench.
Flyhalf Winfrey Stoffels slotted four conversions.
In another enthralling game, at the home of Varsity College, it also turned out to be a game of two halves with the hosts beating their visitors from the South Coast, eThekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti, 34-26 after leading 34-16 at halftime.
Varsity College scrumhalf Josh Fourie scored 19 points for the winners, scoring a try to go with four conversions and two penalties.
Their other tries were scored by wing Chris van Niekerk, who crossed for two, and hooker Mtuthuko Mthembu.
The South Coast Terriers replied with tries from wings Bennie Mashabane and Chad Fisher, JP Fisher and Ulrich Meyer who went in off the bench. Wian Pretorius slotted two penalties for the visitors to conclude their scoring while Varsity College flyhalf Malcolm Cele was named Man of the Match.
Across the Umgeni on Kings Park 3, College Rovers made heavy weather of their win over Richards Bay, beating the Zululand side 34-12 with their big loose forward Malotsi Bouwer being awarded Man of the Match for the second week in a row.
Up in Pietermaritzburg, UKZN edged out South Coast Warriors 31-29 at the Peter Booysen Stadium on the Maritzburg campus in yet another close encounter, with Don Magu from Varsity being named Man of the Match.
The Junior Murray Cup quarter-finals also got into full swing with Maritzburg Collegians going down 58-24 to UKZN Durban at Woodburn, while Westville Old Boys accounted for Land Rover Durban Hillcrest, winning 31-24.
Up North Ladysmith beat Volksrust 24-19 in a close encounter, while the First Division North Section league winners, Piet Retief, beat Vryheid 48-20.
The draw for all the semi-finals will take place on Monday, August 20 and sees two clubs from Maritzburg, UKZN and Maritzburg Collegians, in the mix while Piet Retief and Ladysmith will also be involved.
The draw will include the Murray Cup and Junior Murray, while in the Peter Taylor Trophy and Keith Parkinson Cup the second stringers follow their respective First XV squads, except in the case of UKZN Durban and Westville whose seconds lost out to Maritzburg Collegians and Hillcrest respectively.
UKZN captain Nqubeko Dlamini and Claudio A De Almeida of TUKS contest possession during their Varsity clash last Thursday at Tuks stadium in Pretoria