Scrumhalf Zak Elkin scored a critical charge-down try as Bishops beat Grey PE 24-19 at the Wynberg Festival on Saturday.
Bishops took the game to Grey early on and had the better of the opening exchanges.
Fullback Paul Cohen kicked a fourth-minute penalty to give Bishops a 3-0 led, before Grey lost a lineout close to their own line and Bishops No 8 Nizaam Carr corkscrewed his way over for a converted try.
Shortly after the restart, Bishops flyhalf Sam Lane sliced through a porous Grey defence to unleash centre Mike Muller who cantered over to make it 17-0.
Bishops were now dominating all facets of play. They used the wind intelligently with Cohen and Lane pinning Grey inside their own territory for extended periods of the first half. The breakdown was, however, fiercely contested with Grey’s Renier Erasmus, Siya Kolisa and Siyanda Mangolisa (their captain) causing Bishops plenty of problems.
Grey finally got on the board via a tap penalty with explosive front ranker Mike van Vuuren barging over to reduce the gap to 12 points.
In the second half, Grey managed to retain possession and kick astutely for the corners.
They scored a sublime try five minutes after the break through No 11 Phapama Hoy, who left his opposing winger clutching at thin air with a neat inside-outside break that brought back memories of the great Carel du Plessis. Holten added a superb touchline conversion and Grey were right back in the game at 17-12.
Instead of attacking Grey, Bishops tried to defend their lead, and with 10 minutes to go Grey looked like the stronger side, continually frustrating their opponents with their patience on the ball.
Lane then produced a magical touch kick from a rare turnover, and from the ensuing lineout Elkin charged down Grey pivot John Mudrovics’s clearing kick to score in the corner. Cohen converted to make it 24-12.
But Grey surged back and while Holten missed two penalty attempts, Kolisa scored a try in the right-hand corner, with Holten kicking the conversion.
Grey threw everything at Bishops in the final few minutes but elementary handling errors at critical times and resolute defence kept them out.
‘It was a game of two halves and Grey really frustrated us at the breakdown,’ Bishops coach Dave Mallett told keo.co.za. ‘We played well in patches and will take the win. It was a good effort from our boys and our execution was better than Grey’s on the day. Elkin’s try proved decisive.’
Grey coach Dean Carelse said the weather conditions had affected his side in the first half and that his players battled to adjust initially. He commended them for their spirited comeback but said too many missed opportunities had cost his team victory.
Both coaches were happy with the performance of Test referee Jonathan Kaplan, who allowed the game to flow.
Bishops will now play St Benedicts on Monday with Grey taking on Duinevelt from Upington.
Wildeklawer Paarl Festival results:
Landboudal Jacobsdal 5 Oakdale 5
Diamantveld 10 Framesby 5
Outeniqua 25 HTS Middelburg 3
Affies 27 Boland Landbou 18
Paarl Boys’ High 21 Waterkloof 11
Paul Roos Gimnasium 38 EG Jansen 31
Monument 6 Paarl Gimnasium 5
09.00 Waterkloof vs Paul Roos Gimnasium
10.20 Dr EG Jansen vs Paarl Boys’ High (HJS)
11.40 Diamantveld vs Boland Landbou
13.00 HTS Middelburg vs Framesby
14.20 Affies vs Paarl Gimnasium
15.40 Monument vs Outeniqua
10.20 Landbouskool Jacobsdal vs Schoonspruit
By Gareth Wright