On Thursday morning I was looking forward to picking up The Herald to read the review on the EP Grand Challenge final.
What a disappointment it was to find a small article about the final.
When Grey High PE plays their yearly derby against Grey High Bloem, we are subjected to a whole page just dedicated to that.
Why was this great final, which was attended by more than 30 000 passionate rugby supporters reduced to that?
What makes it more remarkable is that the game was played in the middle of the week and it was raining.
Some of these supporters sacrificed a whole day’s wages just to attend the match.
Almost every day we read about EP Rugby failings and we get sad watching the decline of this beautiful game in our province. But despite all this, these two clubs put together a final that will be talked about for years to come.
So let me try and describe what exactly happened. The final was billed as a PE Harlequins big forward pack versus the creative backline play of Gardens.
All the pre-match talk was about if Gardens’ forwards would be able to hold their own in forward play, which would then allow their backline enough space and time out wide.
An hour before the match was scheduled to begin, the stadium was already filled to the rafters.
Supporters who came late had to be satisfied with standing and watching through the wire fencing, in the pouring rain.
Supporters sang and cheered with every move their players made. The atmosphere was electric. A special mention must also be made of the rugby heroes of yesteryear, who were in full attendance.
The game started at a frantic pace, with both teams trying to assert their dominance, which had all on the edge of their seats.
Gardens drew first blood through a penalty kick from their fullback, Ryan Brown.
Minutes later, with Quins strong on attack, their flyhalf Liam Bosman slotted a drop goal to make matters level.
The frantic start to the match was getting to Harlequins’ big forward pack, as they started to get tired. One could also feel the swing in the game, with Gardens’ bone-crushing tackles.
Quins were on the back foot and Gardens capitalised through scoring a try from a driving maul.
Eighthman Nathal Forbes got up with the ball, which sent their supporters into a frenzy.
In typical Quins never-quit attitude, they bounced back through the boot of fullback Erwin Williams.
Gardens were holding onto the lead with a 10-6 score. With Quins’ forwards starting to lose their dominance, the Gardens backline kicked into overdrive.
Gardens wing Ketchim Denino crossed the white line after a brilliant counter-attack and sloppy defence from Quins, which saw the half-time score at 17 -13.
After the break, Quins looked like a team revitalised. They were on the attack from the whistle.
After a host of scrum penalties, referee Sandile Ngcese awarded a penalty try, which was converted by Erwin Williams to make the score 17-13.
Gardens scored again through Collin Webb, which meant that Quins had to score twice.
When Gardens lock Felix Marvin scored their fourth try from a quick tap penalty, the EP Grand Challenge trophy was in the bag.
All the ingredients for a good rugby match was there – brilliant rugby, massive crowd, good officials and an electric atmosphere.