KwaZulu-Natal coach Tony Richter was satisfied with his side’s performance at Craven Week despite winning just one match.
An encouraging 33-12 opening win against the Leopards was followed by a 30-20 loss to unofficial champions Free State and a 49-23 defeat to Boland.
Nevertheless, Richter is proud of his squad and the character shown on the field.
‘Against Boland, after 20 minutes, I had lock Alwyn Jansen van Vuuren, our Man of the Match against the Leopards, centre Andrew Holland and wing Emil Schwartz – three fantastic players – next to me on the bench through injury,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘It disrupted combinations in the team but we came back admirably to be 30-23 down for most of the game. It was only when we threw everything into attack and Boland capitalised that the score ran away from us. The score flattered Boland and again, flyhalf Duncan Campbell left his kicking boots at home.’
Due to the soccer World Cup, the KZN side’s annual warm up against the Pumas, a trip to Johannesburg to take on the bigger unions and a clash with the Sharks Academy side were not forthcoming, so the side headed into Craven Week without match time.
‘Taking this into consideration, I am proud of the side,’ said Richter. ‘The win against the Leopards was the ideal start and the guys gave their all against the mighty Free State. We only lost by 10 points to the eventual champions and, in all honesty, the lads were a little flat and sore going into the Boland match.’
The coach said he had high hopes heading into the week, especially with players such as Senzo Mtshali, Schwartz, Pat Howard and Keelin Bastew returning from last year’s squad. However, the loss of Glenwood flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, who set the week alight last year and broke his leg in the final round of schoolboy matches against Maritzburg College, and a leg injury to Schwartz in the Leopards match, were huge blows.
‘Credit must go to the players, especially those from last year, who grew in terms of their style and approach to the game. I have no qualms and salute the guys for giving their all and wearing the KZN colours with pride and their hearts on their sleeves,’ said Richter.
The cherry on top for Richter was the selection of Westville Boys High flanker Khaya Majola for SA Schools, the only KZN player in a side dominated by Free State and Western Province players.
By David Knowles