AFTER two tough matches in the Standard Bank Grey Rugby Festival, Ithembelihle gave themselves a boost with a hard-fought 26-21 win over Humansdorp Secondary in Humansdorp at the weekend.
The home side drew first blood when they attacked immediately after the start and were eventually awarded a penalty in front of the poles.
Ithembe were quick to reply when diminutive wing Ayabonga Mteto put the visitors on the front foot. Scrumhalf Bulelani Jack broke well from a ruck and 130kg prop Bigsho Sixonxo was stopped short of the line. But it resulted in a penalty which Mteto landed to make it 3-3. Soon afterwards he kicked a second penalty for Ithembe after good work from Jack and flank Sedge Teysis.
Humansdorp then returned to Ithembe territory and after missing the one penalty, they decided to kick for touch to try to force their way over.
Ithembe then received two yellow cards in the space of three minutes and Humansdorp capitalised to take the lead 8-6 with an unconverted try.
From the kick-off, wing Mteto won the ball brilliantly and prop Sixonxo, who was having a storming game, was again stopped short of the line, resulting in Mteto’s third penalty, making it 9-8.
Back at full strength, Ithembe attacked again through centre Khanyiso Pini and flyhalf Akho Tshoba, only for flank Siya Charlie to be stopped close to the line. Ithembe took a quick tap from a penalty and prop Sixonxo barged over to make it 16-8 at the break.
In the second half, Humansdorp attacked through their speedy backline and although prop Beast Sohiya put in some big hits, they kicked a penalty to make it 16-11. Good work from the kick-off by Ithembe fullback Omo Mcwabeni almost led to another try, but a penalty saw Mteto restore the lead to eight points (19-11).
From the kick-off, Humansdorp threw everything into attack and forced a scrum close to the Ithembe line. However, hooker Saro Maduna pulled off a crucial tighthead and Ithembe, through centre Pini, moved into Humansdorp’s territory. From a lineout, Sixonxo and No 8 Sbongile Nqweniso carried the ball up for replacement prop Innoscence Mamase to burrow over.
Mteto added the conversion to make it 26-11.
Humansdorp, though, hit back with two late tries, but were not able to close the gap.