The loss of Winger, Brandon Asher-Wood and Fullback; Marlo Weich who have both joined the SA Rugby 7’s Academy and the SWD Eagles respectively during this past week did not place any damper on the well-drilled Hamilton outfit.
They continued their good form with a solid 44 – 17 away win at Belhar RFC and this result has put Hamilton SP-RFC back on top of the SLA pile.
With the loss of these stalwarts and with the unavailability of Centre, Kobus Loubser, our Head Coach went for a 5/2 split on the bench.
Niekkie Viljoen kept the same pack that demolished Primrose a week ago but included Eighth-man, Patrick O’Brien (returned from a concussion break) on the bench. Siya Alam started at fullback in place of Marlo Weich and Morgan Newman was also included on the bench for the second week running.
Prior to the visit by Hamilton’s, Belhar RFC was undefeated in two SLA outings and was always going to be a tough team to beat at Accordian Park. With a favourable wind, Hammies started the opening 20 minutes in a very positive attacking frame of mind. The home team showed some tenacious defending by keeping the visitors at bay during the first quarter.
Sustained pressure by the Hamilton pack saw Hooker, Jonathan Raphael, open the scoring from a well worked driving maul off an attacking lineout. A few minutes later the Hammies pack were at it again when Eighth-man, Neil Cleghorn dived over from brilliantly executed attacking scrum from 5 metres out.
Seven minutes from half-time, Hammies were 19-0 ahead when a quick tap penalty by scrumhalf, Louis Nel with a good offload saw winger, Iewan Bartels go over for a converted try. Just before half-time, Hammies old boy Angelo Nelson got the home team on the score board with a converted try.
One penalty from Belhar and two by Hamilton’s kept the scoreboard ticking in the first 10 minutes after the break. A well taken intercept by flyhalf, Shane Vallender from his own 10 metre line saw him score the deserved bonus point try and give his team a 30-10 lead with 17 minutes left on the clock. The visitors continued to pile on the pressure in the last quarter of the game and were rewarded with a converted try thanks to a great blind side break by flanker, Christo van der Merwe that lead to a couple of attacking rucks before winger, Valentino Wellman ran in unopposed.
MOTM – Centre, Jason Kriel deservedly got on the score sheet five minutes from time when he score a very good team try. Shane Vallender added the conversion for a match tally of 19 points. Belhar who played with the wind in the second half did eventually score from a tap penalty near the visitor’s goal-line in injury time from the last move of the game for a converted try.
Once again it was the solid foundation that was laid by our pack that secured the victory. If this very talented group of dedicated, passionate and humble players can keep their positive momentum going forward, they will definitely become a force to be reckoned with.
Well done to the coaching and medical staff for the terrific commitment.
Blue Head …. It is now two down of the three consecutive away games to go for May as we travel to the defending 2017 Varsity Shield Champions, UWC next Saturday.