Hoërskool Monument retained the NuPower Tuks title by beating Centurion 23-17 in the final at Tukkies on Saturday.
It was a win that looked improbable at one stage as the spirited Centurion side started off as if they had every intention of causing an upset. They dominated in the first half, leading 10-6 at the break, and went into a 17-6 lead early in the second half.
Monnas then moved fullback Marais Schmidt to flyhalf, which brought much needed rhythm to a backline that had plenty of chances earlier on, but never really looked like scoring.
The turning point in the game came when Monument flankers, Stefan Nel and Tiaan McDonald, executed a double cover-defence tackle on Centurion winger Werner Le Roux, who looked certain to score. In the ensuing movement No 8 Ruan Steenkamp eventually scored at the other end to close the gap to 17-13 and Monnas took control from then on.
Schmidt was first on the board with a penalty for Monument in the 10th minute of the game but then Centurion’s forwards began to dominate the possession stakes. They outscrummed their bigger opponents and got away in the lineouts against the giant Monument locks by opting for quick throw ins whenever possible. They were rewarded with tries by centre Jaco Kriel and lock Havier Roux.
All Monnas could manage in the first half was another Schmidt penalty.
Alex Gouws got Centurion’s third try, chasing down a clever kick ahead by flyhalf Dewald Walters, minutes into the second half. Walters added the conversion, but that was to be the last points for Centurion.
Steenkamp got his try soon afterwards, before Michael Bean rounded off a sweeping movement, started deep in the Monnas half. Schmidt converted and slotted a penalty from inside his own half in the dying minutes to make the game safe.
Monument’s win makes them the first side to retain the trophy in this competition, or in its previous incarnations. Their coach, Wynand Moolman, was understandably elated afterwards.
‘It was tough, and Centurion’s all out attack shocked us in the first half,’ he said, ‘but we stuck to our guns and showed plenty of character in coming back from quite far behind.’
HTS Middelburg beat Waterkloof 20-3 to take third place in the competition.