An understrength Grey College were made to work hard for their 34-29 victory at Pretoria Boys High.
The hosts never gave up and had they taken their chances, might even have caused a major upset.
Grey, it must be said, were without the cream of their side – seven players were missing because of national U18 duty – and it was clear that the combination they put on the field had not played together much.
When Grey did get into gear they looked very good and scored five tries, but there was some uncharacteristic individualism and they tried to run the ball under pressure too often, running into a determined Pretoria defence.
Boys High had less of the ball, but they used it well. Their speedy winger Edgar Segole looked dangerous and scrumhalf Cobus van der Merwe put in some sniping runs.
The home side were ahead 13-12 at the break, thanks to two penalties by flyhalf Matthew Currie and a try by flanker Karl Pretorius, which was converted by Currie. Grey’s first half points came via tries by lock Gerhard Olivier and fullback Wiaan Lombaard, one of which was converted by flyhalf Neil Marais.
Grey started the second half strongly. Flanker Murray Bondiso ran 35m for a good individual try and Marais slotted two penalties to put them 22-13 up and it looked like they were going to run away with it.
Currie kicked two penaltes to make it 22-19 before Grey went 27-19 up via a try by stand-in captain Nichol Linde and stretched it to 34-19 minutes later when Marais went over under the posts for a try he converted himself, on the second attempt, after the referee ruled an unfair charge by the Pretoria players.
Currie closed the gap to 34-22 with another penalty before Boys High had the last say – a try by hooker Murray Elliot – converted by Currie, and the game ended on 34-29 with the home side desperately trying to secure the win.
By Gauteng correspondent