If ever there was a game of two halves, this was it. On a very hot April day in Stellenbosch, the two schools provided the perfect kick off for the Mutual and Federal Premier Interschools series. Paul Roos started off like a house on fire and dominated every facet of play. They were clinical and effective and had Grey on the back-foot for most of the first minutes of play. It was only through brilliant work on the ground by their Captain and No 6 Johan van Niekerk that Grey was kept out of trouble. He was relentless in turning vital attacking ball over and prevented Paul Roos from getting good clean ball. It was mainly due to his work that Paul Roos conceded a penalty after 5 minutes on the halfway line. Young Curwin Bosch’s penalty attempt from far out was just off target and the scores were still even. Five minutes later Paul Roos was awarded a try for their efforts, when fly half Aidan Cupido sliced through the defence to score under the posts. Cupido converted his own try to make the score 7-0 in favour of Paul Roos.
Bosch had two further attempts at goal from penalties and missed both. Grey’s tactic of kicking the ball into space and bombing the Paul Roos fullback with high up and unders were not paying off – as Paul Roos kept running the ball back at them. This resulted in Paul Roos gaining good ground and in the 30th minute right wing Nico Leonard went over in the corner after a good backline movement. Cupido could not convert and the score was 12-0 for Paul Roos. This was also the halftime score and Grey had to change tactics if they wanted any say in the match.
The second half started like the first, with Paul Roos dominating and Grey trying to kick everything. From a line out, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies broke free and scored a brilliant individual try for Paul Roos. Cupido converted and the boys from Stellenbosch lead 19-0. Then 43 minutes on into the game Grey had a huge setback when their inspirational Captain, Van Niekerk, got injured and had to leave the field. Paul Roos capitalized on this and scored 5 minutes later after a powerful drive from replacement prop Jerome Korf. Again Cupido converted and with the score of 26-0 Paul Roos looked comfortable and in control of the game. Grey decided to change tactics and bring their dangerous backs more into play and that was when the game changed dramatically. After a good offload by Keanu Vers winger Nathan Brown had a clear run-in for Grey’s first try under the posts. Bosch converted and the score read 26-7. Still it seemed a bridge too far for Grey. 4 minutes later Fullback Vers broke from his own 25 metres area and scythed through the Paul Roos defence in midfield. He put winger Athi Mayinje away who scored with two defenders on his back. Bosch missed the conversion. With the score on 26-12 one could sense that the game is changing and Grey was gaining confidence. Replacement flyhalf for Paul Roos, Reinhardt Fortuin then had an opportunity to put his team further ahead – but missed the penalty from just inside the halfway line. On 60 minutes and with only 10 minutes left of play Grey attacked the blind side and winger Athi Mayinje scored his second try in the right hand corner. Bosch converted a difficult kick and suddenly Grey was back in the game at 26-19. Three minutes later they rounded off a great move when 8th man Josh Mudrovcic twisted his way over the tryline. Bosch could not convert this time and with the score at 26-24 that match was up for grabs. After a monster penalty kick from his own 25m area Bosch manoeuvred Grey to within 5 metres from the Paul Roos goal line. The ensuing maul resulted in a penalty for Grey. With one minute left, all the pressure was on young Bosch to put his team in the lead and a very improbable win. His kick hit the upright to the relief of the Paul Roos supporters. Paul Roos cleared the ball into touch expecting the game to be over. However there was still some injury time left and again Grey drove from the lineout and forced a penalty when Paul Roos collapsed the maul. This time, Bosch kept his cool and kicked the penalty that won his side the match. A great exhibition of schoolboy rugby was seen and a fight back that showed guts and determination. Good teams win the matches they are supposed to win, great teams’ win matches they were supposed to lose! This Grey High team of 2014 has the potential to be such a great team.
The Grey High flyhalf, Curwin Bosch had a very ordinary day with the boot, but his ball distribution was excellent. At centre Jeremy Ward looked dangerous with ball in hand and fullback Keanu Vers was always looking for opportunities to counter attack. For Paul Roos, Captain Edrich Venter was solid in midfield and broke the line several times. Eighth (8th) man Joa Swart was the standout player for Paul Roos in the pack and Cupido at flyhalf had a very solid game as well. Herchel Jantjies was the playmaker and one can only guess why he was replaced early in the second half while dominating play from the base of the pack.
Man of the match went to Grey fullback Keanu Vers for his brilliant interplay and running with ball in hand. This is a youngster that has pace and vision and looks a great prospect for the future.
In all, this was a great game of schoolboy rugby and the game did not deserve a loser, but unfortunately on the day, Paul Roos drew the short end of the stick. Well done to both schools for a great spectacle, a Premier event indeed!