A LATE Ervan Williams penalty snatched the Eastern Cape Super 12 club rugby trophy – plus the bragging rights – for Harlequins from under Progress’s nose when the two sides clashed at a packed Central field in Uitenhage at the weekend.
The game, which Quins won 26-24, lived up to expectations as both teams gave their all. Tempers ran high as a few punches were exchanged just before the singing of the national anthem.
Progress wasted no time in pushing for the opening points but their fullback, Aluzant Munnik, missed a penalty in the fifth minute.
Harlequins fullback Williams put his side in the lead with a seventh-minute penalty. Sherwin Slater increased the lead with an unconverted 20th-minute try.
Harlequins prop Leroy Simpson used his big physique to gain territory for his side. But it was Progress prop Wesley Prince who showed there was more to him than just brute force when he found a gap and covered a lot of ground, avoiding two tackles and running with a man on his back before being finally tackled down just short of the tryline.
The ball was recycled to flyhalf Curtis Sais, who dived over, and Munnik converted. Speedy and skilful Harlequins wing Ivan Kapara increased the lead after receiving the ball outside Progress’s 22m line and avoiding a few tackles to score under the posts. Williams converted.
Munnik missed another penalty, but Progress ended the half on the offensive and were rewarded with a Zwelakhe Sodladla try. Munnik converted but Williams slotted another penalty to take his side to a slim 18-14 halftime lead.
The second half started slowly with Munnik, who had a bad day by his standards, missing another penalty in the 41st minute. But team-mate Barlin Edwards soon scored a try, which Sodladla converted.
Rechan Stride scored Harlequins’ third try, but Williams failed to convert it and missed an ambitious 50m penalty.
Sodladla then slotted a penalty, while man of the match Progress scrumhalf Kelvano King missed a drop goal.
With five minutes remaining, Progress, 24-23 ahead, were penalised for not releasing the ball just outside their 22m line. Williams pointed straight to the posts. He kissed the ball before placing it and letting rip to give Harlequins a 26-24 victory.
Both coaches said they were happy with how their charges performed.
Progress coach Leon Nicolaai said: “We were unlucky. We had it but somehow it slipped. The boys performed exceptionally well and I’m proud of them.”
Harlequins coach Deon Jordaan said: “Our forwards kept us in the tournament. I’m happy, so happy. Believing in our structures saw us through.”
Jordaan was named the coach of the tournament.
Tournament local organising committee member Phillip Joseph said they were happy with how everything went.
East London Police ended third, thrashing Winter Rose 46-6.