As the sun beat down on the Main Graeme College field for the well supported Graeme Rugby Day, two teams of equal might took up their positions on the field.
SACS, after beating Stellenberg on Thursday, made the trip up to Grahamstown to experience a classic Eastern Cape rugby match.
The many families and supporters that were gathered around the field knew they were in for a treat. Both teams are known for playing a brilliant brand of rugby. They were both ready to make a statement.
As the whistle blew, both teams were fully switched on to tackle the job in hand . These kinds of fixtures don’t allow for any complacency or a lapse in focus. The game started off at a high intensity, with both teams wanting to make their mark early on.
With the scores even, the game was calling for a sudden burst of brilliance. SACS were ready to answer that call. Some brilliant build up play lead to their winger, Cameron Abegglen charging down the line. He was determined to dot it down and let no one stop him. He dived over in the corner, putting SACS ahead 5-0. Unfortunately for Flyhalf Ryan Aspeling, he couldn’t make the kick count to rub salt into the home team’s wounds.
St. Andrew’s were desperate to stay in the game and showed some great hunger for the ball. After a careless attempt at a clearance by SACS, winger Stuart Smith was ready to punish the Capetonians for the error. He too charged down the wing, after a brilliant take. He scored a try that encapsulated the fight and spirit the St. Andrew’s boys were displaying. The scores were even until Connor Stulich converted. He gave the Grahamstown boys a slight lead. 7-5. Game on.
As the clock ticked on, half-time was looming. Both teams were guilty of some careless handling errors, especially from line outs. It wasn’t easy for the boys however, with the sweltering heat and the mere pressure that these sorts of games carry.
As the scores looked set to stay at 7-5 for half time, College weren’t ready to rest just yet. 8th man, Dylan Wilson, dotted down under the poles. The Boys in Blue were dominating the fixture at this point. 14-8 at half time.
As the second half began, the boys from Cape Town remained determined to silence the St Andrew’s crowd. Duran Koevert and Abegglen were both putting in performances that they should be proud of.
Unfortunately for SACS, the locals weren’t going anywhere. After Stuart Smith was substituted, it was Andrew Coxwell’s time to step up.
After a season ending injury vs DHS last year, he was ready to prove a point. He flew out of the starting blocks with a brilliant try. His clever lines were too good for SACS. He scored in the corner with pace, picking up just where he left off last year. St Andrew’s began to tighten their grip on the game more and more.
It appeared that the boys from Cape Town started to feel the pressure. They made many errors in both attack and defence and seemed out of the game both physically and mentally. The St Andrew’s forward pack once again dominated in the scrums. That scrum should be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Even after a good run of phases by SACS, orchestrated by both Josh Whittingdale and Aspeling, they couldn’t find a way past the mature St. Andrew’s defending. Miles Danckwerts once again defended with great heart.
Gutsy scrum-half, Nic Rogan also made some vital tackles. He showed that size means nothing in fixtures like these.
As the game wound down, SACS managed to score a late consolation try after being in St Andrews’ 22 for a few minutes. Unfortunately for SACS, it had no effect on the game at all. St Andrew’s wrestled the game away from the Western Cape outfit.
SACS should be proud of their efforts however and showed some great sportsmanship as the game went on.
The locals headed home with their heads held high. Beating a quality side from Cape Town in front of a large crowd is a big ask. They’ve ticked that box though, doing so with aplomb.