Mistakes aplenty led to the Kearsney College first XV’s undoing as an alert, more polished Michaelhouse made the most of opportunities to record a welcome 22-9 victory on the 126-year-old midlands school’s Founders Weekend.
Attempting to relieve early pressure in the opening couple of minutes on the splendid Meadows field, Kearsney played into Michaelhouse’s hands and the outcome was a converted try for the hosts as big House eighthman Wandile Mlaba crashed over into in-goal area.
Feature photo caption: Since 1896… Michaelhouse’s current boys commemorate Founders’ Weekend celebrations ahead of the first XV kick-off with many Old Boys of House, Men of House, in attendance around Meadows.
Subsequently, in a rousing House segment of play, the Kearsney defence was put to the test and not found wanting. The visitors regathered in the rugby-friendly conditions and enjoyed some time in the attacking zone but try-time did not materialise and their 6 pre-halftime points came via the penalty-goals brace by scrumhalf Matt Bergset.
To compound the frustration, Kearsney overcooked a lineout throw and House pounced with centre Campbell Ridl finishing off for the home side’s second, much-appreciated, 7-pointer of the half. Hosts Michaelhouse duly went into the changeover with the scoreboard reflecting two converted tries and a penalty goal (17) to Kearsney number 9 Bergset’s set of penalties (6).
Cognisant of the 11-point deficit with half of the match still to play, Kearsney knew they still had plenty of time to win this match. With flanker and captain Jason Brien leading by example, Kearsney proceeded to express themselves, but it was as if the rugby gods were conspiring against them.
More accurately, perhaps, vital passes went astray through poor cohesion, while other attacking forays found fault and the sum total of the admirable determination of the Kearsney side was a lone Bergset penalty goal.
Towards the end of the match a field kick went off-point and extreme pace over 50-plus metres in the form of left wing Kevin Smith burnt away any thought of interference for the third and final Michaelhouse try of the match (22-9).
With many Men of House of yesteryear in attendance, in celebration of Founders’ (1896) Weekend, the Class of 1947 (75 Years) deserving special mention, it was appropriate that the magical KZN midlands conjured up the most special of Autumnal days together with the gorgeous colours which are a signature therein.
It’s always interesting to see what has happened in previous first XV matches of recent times:
On the 8th May 2021 Michaelhouse beat home side Kearsney 26-24 on Stott field; the 2020 match was cancelled due to Covid; the 11 May 2019 match window slipped outside the confines of the Covid nightmare and visitors Kearsney won 23-20 on Meadows; on 10 May 2018 home side Kearsney beat House 27-17; on 29 April 2017 home side Michaelhouse beat Kearsney 26-24; and on 30 April 2016 home side Kearsney beat Michaelhouse 62-22.
So, in the last 6 meetings it’s been 3 wins apiece, both first XVs having once put one over their opponents away from home during this time period – House winning by 2 points at Kearsney in 2022 and Kearsney winning by 3 points at House in 2019.
Long may this wonderful contest continue.