Sport

SCHOOLS RUGBY

Grey High seal late derby win against Selborne College in Eastern Cape thriller

Grey High seal late derby win against Selborne College in Eastern Cape thriller
Grey High's Tristan van Aardt on his way to the line. (Photo: Xander van Niekerk / Grey High)

The drought-stricken Eastern Cape received some much-needed rain on Saturday, both from the sky and in tries as Grey High School came from behind in the dying minutes of the match to sink rivals Selborne College 32-26 in wet weather.

Trailing 26-25 amid uncertainty about the time left because of technical struggles with the scoreboard, flyhalf Byron Forword put through a sensational cross-kick which was gathered by loose-forward Tristan van Aardt on the opposite wing to snatch victory from the clutches of defeat for his side.

“I aged about seven to 10 years on the spot,” Grey High head coach Robbi Kempson told Daily Maverick about his emotions towards the end of the match.

“It was an exceptional performance, particularly that last try. You don’t often see that from a schoolboy, to have the nerve to go and put that kick through.”

Rainy first 35

Flyhalves Forword and Kyle van Wyk exchanged early penalties as both teams felt each other out in the first 15 minutes in pouring rain. Grey eventually got their backs and forwards running into space, and captain Jake Barnard went over under the sticks after a few phases of pressure.

“Throughout the day there was this lingering rain – which we’re thankful for – it made it very slippery with the ball very wet, very slippery underfoot as well. The conditions actually were difficult and considering that, both sides used the ball effectively considering the conditions were not really appropriate for running rugby,” said Kempson.

Grey High’s Tristan van Aardt scores the winning try. (Photo: Xander van Niekerk/ Grey High)

The try sprung Selborne into their stride as excellently worked phase-play by their forwards and slick hands by their backs saw their left wing canter in for a try in the left-hand corner. The unsuccessful conversion from the touchline by Van Wyk saw Grey maintain a slender 10-8 lead.

The strength of the Selborne pack was revealed as they rumbled through Grey and won a penalty which was excellently slotted home by Van Wyk to inch into the lead.

“We expected the forwards challenge, Selborne do have a very strong driving maul. Probably a little surprised by the breakdown; I thought they were very good, which we didn’t quite expect. They’re a big pack so we expected them to have a strong driving maul and be competitive in the scrums,” said Kempson.

With the end of the first half approaching, somewhat against the run of play, Grey scored a fantastic try. Selborne had a lineout on their own 40m line. It was overthrown and collected at the back by Van Aardt who broke through a scattered defensive line and skipped past the last defender to score a brilliant individual try. Grey took a 17-11 lead into halftime.

Second half

The second half started much like the first, with the teams feeling each other out again, this time a lot more physically, with a few handbags thrown in the derby match.

Grey was penalised for their part in the ill-discipline and Selborne made them pay with another excellent driving maul from close range, this time securing the five points thanks to their dominant forward pack.

With Grey ahead by only one point, Forword provided some parity with an excellently taken penalty to make it 20-16. Van Wyk struck back quickly with a converted penalty of his own to stay within striking distance.

The wet conditions then came into play again as a kick-through by Grey fullback Siviwe Bwowe was spilled at the back by Selborne. The ball was eventually kicked through and flying winger Mtika Oliphant pounced on it to give his team a 25-19 lead with 10 minutes to go.

More rumbling forward play by Selborne saw them score another excellent try under the sticks. Van Wyk converted as Selborne took the lead with mere minutes left on the clock.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Affies sink Maritzburg College in late-season schoolboy clash

“No one was sure how much time was left because the clock kept on stopping and the referee was stopping the clock and then it was his time and not the scoreboard’s time. It was a bit nerve-racking when they scored the try. A lot of people thought the game was up.”

Then, Grey’s forwards showed their mettle, building phase after phase in Selborne territory to set up a final attack.

“We felt from a conditioning point of view we were definitely going to be fitter and faster. They’re (Selborne) quite big gentlemen so we really tried to speed up the game and take it through a number of phases and tire out the massive pack they have. Attacking the breakdowns and gaining possession was part of that,” said Kempson.

With time seemingly up, Forword put through a “brave” crosskick that got the Grey High crowd on their feet.

Grey High flyhalf Byron Forword in action. (Photo: Xander van Niekerk/ Grey High)

“He’s a brave man. Byron Forword has been just outstanding. He’s one of the leaders in the school, he’s a school prefect. He’s just grown in the No 10 position since we’ve moved him there. It was all calculated. Yes, it does take guts to execute that, particularly in the last movement of the game. He did it very well and thankfully Tristan was on hand to make sure we got the try,” said Kempson.

Forword missed the conversion from out wide but it mattered little as Grey ran out victors with time finally actually out on the clock.

“The emotions from the desperate feeling of ‘we’ve lost this’ to managing to get a victory… The response from the crowd said it all; it was a massive, huge relief,” said Kempson.

“They realised it’s the last game, the last game in the blue jersey on our home Siya Kolisi field. They managed to pull a fantastic move out and got the win.”

‘No real star’

Kempson acknowledged their success is built on the team as a whole and not individuals. According to him, that is why they succeeded despite having their backs against the wall in the final exchanges.

“It’s the way this team has been put together, there’s no real star. Everyone has fought for their position throughout the year to make sure they can make the first team. In view of that, they really played… as a team… I think that was, thankfully, the point of difference for Grey on the weekend,” he said.

“That last try of Selborne put everyone on the back foot, particularly the crowd. For them to do what they did in the last few minutes is testament to how these guys play as a team and not as individuals.” DM

Selected results:

Western Cape

Paul Roos 12 Boland Landbou 12

SACS 12 Rondebosch 24

Wynberg 44 Bishops 12

Stellenberg 43 Strand 11

Durbanville 22 Tygerberg 3

Outeniqua 72 Framesby 5

Eastern Cape

Cambridge 10 Queen’s 97

Hudson Park 20 Dale 17

Grey High 32 Selborne 26

KwaZulu-Natal

Maritzburg 22 Glenwood 28

Gauteng

Monument 33 Noordheuwel 29

HTS Middelburg 36 Marais Viljoen 38

Zwartkop 42 Middelburg 31

Eldoraigne 23 Heidelberg 24

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