GARETH DUNCAN watched Grey College clinch a 16-11 win over Affies in a closely contested encounter in Bloemfontein.
While the low-scoring match was a scrappy affair, there was continuous drama as both teams had the opportunity to win the schoolboy clash of the season. Affies won the ascendancy in the first half, and while Grey College edged ahead through the boot of scrumhalf Arrie Vosloo in the second stanza, the game was still in the balance at the death.
With only a two-point lead in the final 10 minutes, Grey College were up against a rampant 14-man Affies team that looked like scoring. But the hosts held on for a hard-fought comeback victory to keep their five-year winning streak at home intact.
There was some early concern from Grey 1st XV head coach Ingo Machts as his team’s preparations was disrupted by Craven Week preparations, wet weather and exams over the last fortnight. This contributed to their stuttering start to the match, which saw Affies capitalise and dominate the early exchanges.
The Pretoria school starved Grey of possession as the forwards created the momentum up front, and with the visitors enjoying a territorial advantage, the home team was forced to kick the little ball they had away. Affies used their possession well and employed an expansive display. However, a physical contest emerged and Affies came off worst as they lost flyhalf Ryno Eksteen inside six minutes to a leg injury.
While Grey provided a strong guard, their ill-discipline cost them and a kickable penalty saw fullback Hanco Deale open the scoring. The three-pointer provided Affies with some confidence and they were rewarded after good interplay from the backline set up wing Marcus Kleinbooi in the corner. Affies continued to create try-scoring opportunities but they couldn’t add to their tally.
Instead, Grey crept back into the match against the run of play. Affies hooker De Wet Steenkamp overthrew a lineout inside his own red zone and No 8 Nicolaas Immelman pounced to score. Wing Jannie Strumpher added the extras to see his team trail 8-7 at half-time.
Deale built on Affies’ lead with an early penalty after the second stanza restart, but Vosloo found the target twice with the boot thereafter to put his team ahead for the first time in the match.
Affies spent most of the final quarter in Grey’s half, but they were restricted by a resilient defence and crucial cover tackles. The turning point in the match was when Affies were reduced to 14 men after replacement hooker Wynand Breytenbach was yellow carded for taking a player out in the air. With a one-man advantage in the last five minutes, Grey’s task became easier and they sealed the win when Vosloo slotted a penalty for the last action of the match.