NDZONDELELO held off a late surge by Bertram to emerge the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Nite Series rugby champions in a thrilling final at the Adcock Stadium.
In boiling-hot weather, Bertram looked down and out on Saturday when they trailed 31-15 deep into the second half, but tries by wing Fredwin Thom and Ruan Jantjies brought them right back into the game before they ran out of time to lose 31-37.
In fact, Ndzondelelo must have heaved a sigh of relief when the final whistle blew immediately after Calum Goliath’s successful conversion of Jantjies’s second try.
Bertram drew first blood when Thom chased a kick down the left flank and made the touchdown as the scrambling Ndzondelelo defence failed to secure possession.
During this period, Bertram flyhalf Richard Jantjies caused many problems for Ndzondelelo with his lively play and excellent running.
However, the Zwide school, led by impressive flank Siphesihle Magawu, gradually took control and, through hard running at the Bertram defence, scored three tries and a penalty to take a telling 24-8 lead at half-time.
Their tries came from Siyabonga Mzansi and wing Khanyiso Doyi (2), while talented scrumhalf Vusikaya Hanabe added the remaining points with his boot.
In the second half, Jantjies scored arguably the try of the match when he took a quick tap and outpaced the Ndzondelelo defence to score from 70 metres out.
With Goliath adding the conversion, Bertram were right back in the game, but a period of pressure by Ndzondelelo resulted in lock Masixole Kaya stretching over to score and Hanabe added the extra two points.
To their credit, Bertram never stopped trying and they were rewarded for their efforts with those two late tries before the final whistle came to leave them just a few points short of their objective.
Ndzondelelo also claimed the under-17 title when they defeated Mzontsundu in the final 12-0, while Hillside took the U15 category with a 27-12 result against Ndzondelelo.
The girls competed in a sevens competition in two age-groups. The U19 title went to Ndzondelelo with a 22-5 win over Kwesi Lomzo, and Mzontsundu took the U16 section by defeating Kwesi Lomzo 22-17. – Neale Emslie