Hammies 3rds dig deep & hold onto top spot!

There was a real tension in the air as two unbeaten 3rd teams gathered on a near perfect day for Rugby at Hamilton on Saturday.

The early kick off {1 pm} saw two giants of 3rd team Rugby face up for what was always going to be a real test of character and preparedness.

The early exchanges were dominated by some huge defense on both sides. None more present and up for the challenge than prop Adrian Erfort who laid the marker for Hammies with a huge hit  to set the tone. The tackle was a beauty and to the delight of the sizable crowd that gathered to watch the 3rds. Such is the popularity of the 3rd team this season that big numbers of supporters were pub side and beers in hand earlier than the usual. Thanks so much to all who made it down. Your support means so much to the team.
The supporters, management and players for both sides understood very well the importance and significance of this fixture and made their voices heard throughout a pulsating game that went pretty close to the wire before the outcome was decided.
In the 1st 20 minutes, Hammies benefited from some early pressure and were awarded 5 penalties inside Durbells half. 4 were kick-able and only 1 attempt at poles was questionable. 3 failed early tap and goes had this writer wondering if we had left our brains behind in the change room and Hammies appeared nervous and over exuberant . Once we made better decisions of going to the corner { and a successful penalty attempt by Tyren Lee} it was the less fancied Hammies line out that proved the difference. On 3 occasions the line out lead to tries for the home team. 1st up, winger Ivan Kuhn, who had a very strong game and carried like a flanker for Hammies to get over the in the corner to open the scoring, before the try scoring machine that is Hugo Swart took a lob throw at line out time and bust out of a tackle to dart over for the 2nd. Both wide conversion attempts were missed.
Durbell also constructed a well worked team try and surprised Hammies with their pace and ability to off load in the tackle. Durbell  put numbers in wider channels to outstrip our defense and Hammies soon realized this was not a typical forward based Durbell side.  A chink in the defense of our side, that had previously not been exposed this season was becoming a worry to the coaching staff. Such was the quality of the opposition, so full credit must go to the Durbell outside backs that caused more than a few problems, especially down the right flank of the field.
After the break the Hammies pack found something extra. With the scoreline in deadlock Hammies were eventually able to break up the contest with their forward pack and more superb line out work. First Skye Sissing touched down after some great work around the fringes. Then soon  after Skye was in the game again with a pin point throw  to the back of the line out that found the unmarked Mike Joni. The tap down found a barn storming Adrian Erfort who scored the try of the match. Erfie who still had plenty to do.  A sweeping arc run worked his way into space which left the Durbell backs to deal with an Erf at full taps. Unable to stop that sort of momentum Erf crashed over in spectacular fashion as the Hammies pub and bench exploded with loud roars of approval. Well worked boys for a very important score. It was however  the the next try which became decisive.
As we have seen many times this season, it was Hugo Swart who came up with the all important and decisive play when Hammies really needed it. Hugos ability to slip out of tackles as he has done all season was 1st class and the off load to the extremely hard working Louw Langeveldt had a clear run in under the the poles. The conversion by Tyren Lee, gave the hosts the vital 8 point cushion that forced Durbell to chase the game which they came up just short.
Tyren Lee deserves praise for a very gutsy defensive effort. The smallest guy on the park with the biggest heart made plenty of crucial tackles as did his half back partner Anthony “Skoene” Small.
Other stand out performances from full back Alfred Mbangwe and loose head Brandon McBride who have given consistent and solid performances to the 3rd team this season.  Well done lads – your efforts were much needed and our defense held firm in a nervous last 10 minutes that saw late entries off the bench for Lazz, Matty, Sia ,Jacob & Leo who all played their part in this gutsy bonus point win.
Hammies 3rds remain unbeaten and top of the log with 2 games to play.
A bye next week and then we welcome Stellenbosch University to Hamilton on the 12 August in what is shaping up to be another massive encounter that could well decide the league for 2017. We look forward to seeing you all there.