ITHEMBELIHLE and the touring Manchester Grammar served up a thrilling display of running rugby as the Nelson Mandela Bay outfit registered a 26-19 win in a schools clash at the New Brighton Oval yesterday.
The English visitors played a power game up front, but entered into the spirit of the occasion when they saw their hosts were prepared to run the ball from anywhere.
It led to a total of seven tries being scored, four to Ithembe and three by Manchester. The star of the day was influential Ithembe centre and captain Khanyiso Pini, who crossed for three of his team’s tries to prove the difference between the two sides.
Ithembe led 12-7 at half time, and the action intensified after the break as the players produced a wonderful exhibition of schoolboy rugby.
After the game, Ithembe coach Theo Pieterse said they were thrilled with the victory after some tough matches this season.
“The guys were very happy with the win,” Pieterse said, “and this will do wonders for their confidence.
“The Manchester side played typical, powerful English rugby, but they joined in to run the ball when they saw the type of game we were playing. It was a magnificent game played at a hectic pace throughout.”
THE schools rugby programme resumes tomorrow, with several interesting derbies on the menu.
In Grahamstown, St Andrew’s are preparing for their annual showdown with Marlow Agricultural on the Lower field in a clash between two of the EP Country Districts’ strongest teams.
Although St Andrew’s players were not available this year, these schools traditionally supply the bulk of the EPCD Craven Week players and it should be a cracking contest.
The SA schools trials in Johannesburg will affect a few teams this weekend and Marlow will have to do without influential captain and flank Luigy van Jaarsveld.
Daniel Pienaar and Grey High will also be missing players for their clash in Uitenhage, but the teams will still be evenly matched.
Keanu Vers, Curwin Bosch and Junior Pokomela are out of the Grey team, while Daniel Pienaar must cope with the absence of centre Heino Bezuidenhout and prop Lupumlo Mguca.
Since being shocked by Queen’s in May, Grey have posted four straight wins. But Daniel Pienaar are a tough nut to crack on their home turf.
Framesby have a big clash against out of town visitors when they host Kimberley team Noord-Kaap. The Griquas school have lost several encounters this year, but they will be keen to impress in PE.
Westering have a major derby day against Cambridge, with several sports taking place tomorrow morning. The first rugby teams should provide an entertaining finale at 12.30pm.
Across town, Pearson will be geared up for what should be a tough and physical encounter against Graeme. These teams have generally had some close clashes and tomorrow’s game is sure to be another well-contested affair.
The fixtures, subject to change, are: (home teams first, 11.30am start unless stated): Cillie v Alexander Road, Andrew Rabie v Newton Tech, Brandwag v Despatch (12.20), Daniel Pienaar v Grey High (1.15), Otto du Plessis v DF Malherbe, Framesby v Noord-Kaap (1pm), Pearson v Graeme (12.45), Humansdorp v Uitenhage, St Andrew’s v Marlow (3pm), Westering v Cambridge (12.30), John Walton v Bertram, Nathaniel Nyaluza v Ukhanyo – Neale Emslie