Perhaps you would think it strange that we would use this now famous picture of Naas Botha’s clean pants in a match report between Westville Boys and Hilton College. But, this is probably the most vivid way to describe what happened on Bowdens on Saturday afternoon as Hilton College walked away with a 25-22 victory over Westville Boys High School.
Despite playing all the rugby and dominating territory for large portions of the game, Westville couldn’t make it count where it mattered most, and that was on the scoreboard. Pacey and dynamic in attack, with game breakers all over the park, the griffins will look back on this game and realise that costly errors at key moments contributed to their loss.
Hilton, for their part, were clinical and efficient in almost every aspect of the game. Seldom did they play above themselves, seldom did they make errors. Make no mistake, Hilton College are far from perfect, neither do they have other worldly talent that just overwhelms the opposition. Rather, this a team that is extremely well coached, and where everyone just does his job, to borrow a quote from the New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Bilechick.
The opening score in the 4 minute epitomised everything about this Hilton team. A penalty deep inside the Westville 22 metre led to a text book score via a rolling maul. A pin point throw from Holdsworth found Luke van Ryswyk and, with perfect technique, the Hilton pack marched over to score. Simple rugby, done with excellence. Wilmans missed the conversion to make the scores 5-0
From then on it was Westville who spent the larger part of the next ten minutes camped inside the Hilton half. Their
ball carriers ran with purpose and in the 15th minute were rewarded with a try of their own. A great line busting effort from Kgopotso Matlena who, quite literally, dragged defenders with him, was rewarded with an offload to Ockie Barnard who scored next to the uprights. Redemption for the big number eight who had knocked the ball on with the goal line begging a few minutes earlier. Grove Akker stepped up to convert making the scores 7-5 to Westville and just rewards for some great play.
Hilton scored almost immediately after Westvilles opening salvo. A high, hanging kick from Wilmans at the restart was knocked on by Westville handing Hilton vital field position inside the Westville half. From the resulting phases Westville were penalised for being offside in the midfield and in the 18 minute Wilmans slotted the penalty making the scores 8-7 to the visitors.
From the kick off Westville again started to apply pressure on Hilton who just couldn’t seem to get out of their half. In the 22 minute a brilliant box kick from Braden Van Wyk led to a key moment in the half. With Westville metres from the line, Hilton were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck. Westville Captain, Gareth Bevan, sensing that they had the momentum took a quick tap and charged at the line.
The ball was recycled quickly and with a huge overlap on the left a try looked certain. Instead it was taken to the line and a ruck was set up in front of the Hilton uprights. A quick pick and go from ever lively Matlena got him close to the line and as he was tackled he slammed the ball over the line, or had he knocked it on? The ref, being unsighted, ruled knock on. So close for Westville after some great build up play once again.
In the 43 minute, after another line break from Ockie Barnard, Hilton were penalised for tackling a player without the ball. Akker duly stepped up adding the the 3 points making the score 10-8
Hilton came back immediately with some bone jarring runs, from particularly Zigiriadis, the ball was passed to Wilmans who spun a teasing pass in front of the defence to Mark Armstrong. With the defence slightly out of alignment Armstrong beat the the first tackler. The eighth mans explosive pace drove him through the gap before unleashing a beautifully floated pass as he was falling to the ground to find flying fullback Thabiso Dlamini to score in the 47 minute. Wilmans converted making the score 15-10.
Hilton scored again in 52nd minute. After going through a number of phases Hilton had set up a pod on the Westville left. Zigiriadis who had been a willing ball carrier the whole game just held his run for a moment and threw a
perfectly timed inside pass to hit a speeding Latica Nela who sliced through the gap near the ruck. The graceful outside centre sped away and with a beautiful step off his right foot beat the fullback to score to the right of the uprights. Wilmans converted making the score 22-10 with 18 minutes left.
Westville, though, were the next to score in the 56th minute. After a great run by fullback Mbaso Nkonki set up the
play inside the Hilton half the ref awarded a penalty to Westville on the Hilton 5 metre line. A dominant Westville scrum gave the necessary platform for dynamic runner Mambo Mkhize to crash over next to the posts. Akkers converted making the score 22-17.
Hilton again scored straight from the kick off in the 57th minute. Another perfect restart from Wilmans was knocked on by Westville and smartly collected by Hilton. The composure shown by the Hilton players in the next few passages of play was exemplary as they calmly worked through the phases creating a great angle for Wilmans who, taking a neat drop kick, made the scores 25-17. Great game control from the pivot putting Hilton two scores ahead with 13 minutes to play.
Back came Westville in the 60th minute, Hilton, trying to play the territory game, kicked deep to the Westville right. A long pass infield from Barnard found Nkonki who, with blazing acceleration, got around the edge of the Hilton cover. The Hilton defensive line was to slow and disorganised and up the field flew the diminutive fullback making his way to the Hilton 22 metre line. After some great support from Josh Aigner the ball was recycled and got into the hands of Simelela Nkomo who released Cameron Best to score in the corner.
With 5 minutes left to play Westville had their chance to possibly win the game. One of the few errors on the day from Wilmans handed possession to Westville on the Hilton 22 metre line. From the throw in Mkhize fed Khalishwayo who passed to Nkonki who stretched play all the way to the left. Westville recycled and Matlena putting his head down charged to the line.
After another ruck, the ball was passed to Barnard who seemingly ran straight at the base of the poles and somehow didn’t score. With numbers to burn the ball was swung to the right and with a clear run in to score the ball was knocked on. Oh my word an absolute heartbreaker for the Westville boys!
Hilton had dodged a bullet and fittingly it was Wilmans that iced the game for the visitors who, with a telling touch finder, took the game to within 7 metres of the Westville line. Another line out error from Westville handed possession to Hilton who ran out the clock to win 25-22.
Well played to Hilton College who continue their unbeaten march through KZN opposition. They head into half term with some big matches still to come but quietly building a great body of work. Westville will again rue some costly errors and with a trip to Martizburg College next week things aren’t going to get any easier.
WESTVILLE BOYS: 22 (7)
Tries: Ockie Barnard, Mambo Mkhize, Cameron Best
Con : Grove Akkers (2)
Pen: Grove Akkers
HILTON COLLEGE: 25 (8)
Tries: Connor Holdsworth, Thabiso Dlamini, Latica Nela
Con: Ruan Wilmans (2)
Pen: Ruan Wilmans
Drop kick: Ruan Wilmans