Hammies not at their best but still win convincingly….

Another week and Hamilton yet again loose two players – Loose Forward, Luke van der Smit who will be joining the elite at Hong Kong Rugby on a two year contract and Flanker, Christo van der Merwe who has been called up by Namibia for their international rugby fixtures while Fullback, Marlo Weich made an impressive debut against the SWD Eagles a week ago against WP. Your family at Hammies wish you all well in your ventures….

Head Coach, Niekkie Viljoen had to make a few of changes to his pack as the inform Loose Head Pop, Steven Robbesson suffered an injury at Belhar and with the unavailability of Luke and Christo, he moved utility front-rower, Jonathan Raphael to loose head prop and gave Hooker, Grant Muller his second start of the season. Justin Moberly who also received his second start of this campaign came in for fellow Lock, Jade Kriel and Eighth-man, Patrick O’Brien also got a start with Neil Cleghorn been moved to the side of the scrum. Brandon Asher-Wood who returned from a short stint with the SA Rugby 7’s Academy started at 14 with Valentino Wellman moving to Fullback.

Scrumhalf, Jewell Samuels also got his second start while Siya Alam got a start at flyhalf. Both – Centre, Kobus Loubser and Hooker, Robbie Trueman returned from injury to occupy the bench. Gareth Rowe got a call-up and welcome return to the 1 st XV to sit on the bench a day after becoming a father for the first time.

A couple hours before kick-off, Niekkie received the news that Valentino Wellman was involved in a car accident a couple of kilometers from UWC. Yours truly was asked to go and fetch Valentino. I humbly obliged and I left the campus by going left instead of right and therefore turned the five minute drive into a 50 minute search. Thank goodness that he was alright thanks to a functioning airbag. The damage to the vehicle can be discussed at training. I got him to the field 20 minutes before kick-off only to find out that Kobus Loubser had pulled a calf muscle during the warm-up session.

Playing away against the Varsity Shield Champions was not going to be easy especially after these unexpected incidents before kick-off. The game was also moved to an outside field to accommodate the UWC soccer team for a live Varsity Cup match coming Monday evening. Lead by our “birthday boy” we struggled in the first quarter of the game by been too hasty in our approach that lead to several set piece errors and poor decision making. We did eventually open the scoring after a set piece lineout, a good backline move and then a blind side move from the attacking ruck saw Niel Cleghorn go over for a five pointer. From a poor take from the receiving kick-off, UWC pounced and took a 7-5 lead. In the last eight minutes of the first half Hamilton’s scored three tries including the bonus point try. The first from a quick tap penalty saw a fantastic break and run by flyhalf, Siya Alam and the second from an attacking lineout set piece maul that saw Hooker, Grant Muller score his first ever try for Hammies.

The third try was scored on the stroke of halftime after terrific attacking running play by Inside Centre, Morne Smal and then offloading to the flyer, Iewan Bartels to score a 7 pointer. Leading 22-7 at halftime with the bonus point secured, we just did not pitch for the first ten minutes of second half. UWC capitalized on silly Hammies errors and made us pay by scoring to converted tries. Suddenly the score was 22-21 and UWC had their tails up. Perhaps this was the rude awakening that we required as the next 30 minutes saw Hammies run in no less than six tries with fullback, Valentino Wellman getting the first two with some devastating pace and agility. Hard running Centre, Jason Kriel got the next try after a solid foundation was built by the forwards as they went through several attacking drives and rucks. Iewan Bartels got his second of the game when he showed electrifying pace to outrun the cover defence. In the last 10 minutes we played with 14 players as replacement Hooker, Robbie Trueman injured his shoulder. This did not stop the Hammies momentum as Juwell Samuels got his first try of the season from a blindside move and then a pure bit of magic saw Iewan Bartels score from our 22 meter line with swift pace, a kick ahead and a quality finish to score his second hat-trick of tries this season. Replacement flyhalf, Shane Vallender converted 5 of the 6 conversions that were to offer. MOTM – Captain, Brendon Groenewald once again put his body on the line as he led his team that were not at their best to a convincing 62 – 21 victory to remain on top of the SLA pile. We achieved our set goal for the month of May by winning all three our away games with a bonus point in each. Our next objective is to stay undefeated for June as we travel yet again for another big clash against another university club when we play Ikeys next Saturday.

1st Team Match Pictures here

Blue Head!

Match day squad versus UWC:

1. Jonathan Raphael

2. Grant Muller

3. Bomba Bakeni

4. Justin Moberly

5. Brendon Groenewald

6. Ross Beckett

7. Neil Cleghorn

8. Patrick O’Brien

9. Juwell Samuels

10. Siya Alam

11. Iewan Bartels

12. Morne Smal

13. Jason Kriel

14. Brandon Asher-Wood

15. Valentino Wellman

16. Robbie Trueman

17. Albert Loubsher

18. Jade Kriel

19. Gareth Rowe

20. Louis Nel

21. Shane Vallender

22. Kobus Loubser