Crunch time as Mur­ray Cup reaches semis

The Mercury - - SPORT - Jos Rob­son

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.

PIC­TURE: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/SASPA)

UKZN cap­tain Nqubeko Dlamini and Clau­dio A De Almeida of TUKS con­test pos­ses­sion dur­ing their Var­sity clash last Thurs­day at Tuks sta­dium in Pre­to­ria

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