Hosts Northwood has beaten Hilton College for the first time since their outstanding first team led Michael Alison won 12-6 back in 1991.
This was a match of two halves. The first half belonged to Hilton, who played the far more constructive game in the opening 35-minutes and enjoyed territorial advantage. However they could not translate this into a lead on the scoreboard and changed ends at 7-11 down. Under the floodlights, Northwood upped their game considerably in the second half. The noticeable difference appeared to be that Northwood were operating as a team with good cohesion, while Hilton became reliant on individuals with no one really seeming to be on the same page. In this second period the big Northwood pack of forwards gained the upper hand, the home team’s tactical kicking was also more effective and most importantly their backs began to move the ball through the hands nicely. As a result the Northwood Knights scored three tries versus a late consolation try by Hilton in this second stanza.
Northwood got first points on the board with an early try near the corner via one of their unsung heroes, lock Shane Kennedy following some pick and drive plays. The unsuccessful conversion handed them a 5-0 lead.
Hilton had been setback by injuries which made key forwards Jayson Gouws (captain) and Brad Dickerson, non-starters for this match. In their absence, lock Peter Frost who had displayed good form in his team’s previous two matches really stepped up his contribution and helped his team to perform well during the first 35-minutes.
After stand in captain and outside centre Tristan Blewett missed a well-struck long range penalty, Hilton continued to apply pressure and earned just reward. Good ball handling skills, fluent passing, support play and decision-making played a part in their first try in the 9th minute scored by blindside flank Rhys Hawkens, who was freed up on the outside as a result of the high quality transfers between attacking players. His try had class written all over it. With Blewett’s conversion, Hilton led for the first and only time in the match by 7-5.
A few minutes later Hilton openside flank Etienne Marx came very close to extending the lead but he was held up over the line. Then not long after that right wing Terry Matsa, who’d shown some good touches, was stopped by an important tackle by Northwood fullback Jaydon Stevens, after a threatening run.
In a match they incorporated a fair bit of kicking out of hand, big Northwood flyhalf Dawid Weersma used his massive punt to good effect on a number of occasions. One particular hoof helping Northwood to eventually get back inside Hilton territory, where their forwards controlled a lineout and then used their strongpoint pick and drive game to force Hilton to concede a penalty. Inside centre Sassa Makhanya made no mistake with the boot to put his team back in front at 8-7.
When Hilton scrumhalf Matthew Dahl’s attempted box kick was charged down, well-built flank Calvin Silson produced a very good carry. From the field position gained and a Hilton ruck infringement, Makhanya had no trouble slotting a second penalty, making it 11-7 at the break.
The match was still very much alive as an even contest but a crucial game changing moment came shortly after halftime. Hilton in an attempt to get the ball wide, throw a long cut-out pass to their left that Northwood right wing Jabu Mahbida ran into the path of, intercepted and carried the ball in untouched for a try under the sticks. Another Makhanya kick increased the lead to 18-7.
In the 43rd minute, from a lineout Northwood spread the ball wide. Flyhalf Weersma has a really strong accurate pass but during this move the backline could not get going. As a result of a floated pass Sassa Makhanya received static ball in midfield. The centre should have been lined up for a big hit by a Hilton defender but instead the visitors failed to wrap him up ball-and-all. Makhanya needed no second invitation and did very well to attack the little opening offered to him. His run took him from near the halfway downtown to the Hilton tryline where he was caught and could not get a good offload away. His centre partner Phiko Sobhale did brilliantly to retrieve the ball with a great pick and crossed the line for the try. Makhanya added the extras and Northwood went 25-7 up.
Northwood were by this stage firmly in control. Their strong pack of forwards may have been missing robust first choice hooker “Beast” Mthembu but it still included the likes of Craven Week hopefuls Ngoni Chidoma and Kabelo Motlong in the engineroom as well as influential flank Ross Muil, were dominating the collisions. Northwood’s pick and drive play was having the decided ground gaining effect while Hilton were starting to look despondent. Northwood’s physical approach was also taking it’s toll with several Hilton players leaving the field with injuries.
Not long after being held up over the line, several more pick and drives gave Northwood another shot at a 5-pointer and this time in the 56th minute big prop Ngoni Chidoma made no mistake as he powered over from close range, increasing the score to 32-7.
After a good playmaking grubber through, Hilton had a rare attacking opportunity to score from but Tristan Blewett who must be commended for never giving up, was unable to gather the ball with the tryline beckoning. During the last play of the game, a good carry prop Andrew Svenningsen provided front foot ball. Peter Frost found himself as the link player on the right and made a good offload that put Terry Matsa in for the try, which Blewett converted and which brought an end to the game.
It was a memorable victory for Northwood, who had given very good accounts of themselves against the likes of Kearsney, Maritzburg College and Menlopark this season without any kind of reward to show for those efforts. The Durban North boys have now won three in a row including the scalp of Jeppe and are playing a very good all-round game at present. By converse Hilton has now lost their last four matches in a row and have some very challenging matches still to come.
|1||Ngoni Chidoma||1||Devan Corke|
|2||Cameron Silson||2||Bafana Motloi|
|3||Kabelo Motlong||3||Andrew Svenningsen|
|4||Greg Slater||4||Peter Frost|
|5||Shane Kennedy||5||Jonno Smithers|
|6||Ross Muil||6||Ettienne Marx|
|7||Calvin Silson||7||Rhys Hawken|
|8||Duncan Macdonald||8||Sebastien D. de Marigny|
|9||Durran Krummeck||9||Matthew Dahl|
|10||Dawid Weersma||10||Kieran Hayne|
|11||Nathan van Wyk||11||Darren McGhee|
|12||Sassa Makhanya||12||Daniel Loftus|
|13||Phiko Sobhale||13||Tristan Blewett|
|14||Jabu Mahbida||14||Terry Matsa|
|15||Jaydon Stevens||15||Thomas Webber|