It was almost fitting that it took 79 minutes of the final to determine the eventual winners of the inaugural Cell C Community Cup, but in the end GAP Despatch were crowned national club rugby champions. The club who won the national club title in the old Toyota Championship in Durban in 1985 and 1988 ran out 26-24 winners over College Rovers in George yesterday, courtesy of a last-gasp penalty on the hooter by fullback Monty Dumond.
The veteran player had a 47-metre effort a minute earlier falling a couple of metres short. But when afforded another kick 45 metres out after Rovers had hands in the ruck, he slotted it as the buzzer sounded and was mobbed by his team-mates.
Rovers had just taken the lead three minutes earlier with a Greg Goosen penalty, but a last desperate surge by Despatch resulted in them giving Dumond his glory moment.
“We want to put Despatch back on the map. This is only the start,” Despatch captain Elroy Ligman said.
Despatch hooker Giovano Fourie was named player of the tournament.
It was Rovers who opened the scoring with a penalty by fullback Chris Micklewood, but Despatch found the way to the tryline first.
Livewire Marlon Lewis showed some deft touches in scoring the opening try. And although the conversion was missed, a good try by Trichardt van Tonder saw the Eastern Cape side extending their lead to 10-3. Rovers closed the gap with a try by Chris Jordaan and the successful conversion by Goosen drew the scores level.
Despatch took the lead again with Jaco Swanepoel scoring and Dumond converting. Dumond traded penalties with Goosen, but a try on the halftime hooter cancelled out the Despatch lead. Sergio Torrens scored for the third time in as many matches to give his side the slightest of edges.
The second half was always going to be a tight affair. Rain started falling and with the reality of what was at stake inhibiting play, it was left to the kickers to try for field position.
Dumond was up first with this task and a long-range effort in the 50th minute had his side in the lead again.
Micklewood pulled a drop goal attempt and Goosen only managed to hit the upright with their attempts in the 64th and 65th minutes.
Micklewood missed another long-range effort with the ball just drifting to the left.
Rovers kept plugging away at Despatch, though, and their hard work finally paid off when Goosen kicked a penalty right in front with six minutes left.
Dumond had a long-range effort to win it for his team two minutes from time, and his 47m effort came up just short. But his last effort determined the home of the gold cup for the next year.
GAP Despatch 26:. Tries: Marlon Lewis, Trichardt van Tonder, Jaco Swanepoel. Conversion: Monty Dumond. Penalties: Dumond (3).
College Rovers 24: Tries: Chris Jordaan, Sergio Torrens. Conversion: Greg Goosen. Penalties: Chris Micklewood, Goosen (3).