Vryheid Rugby Club – ‘We are the champions’

Vryheid Rugby Club’s finest took to the field on Saturday in icy conditions, braving the elements against Piet Retief in the final showdown for the title of NNRU champions.

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The third division match took place first and Newcastle’s third team went up against Ladysmith United. The final score was 41 – 14 in favour of Newcastle, who were subsequently crowned champions in their division.

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Vryheid’s second team were next in line to battle formidable opponents, Piet Retief in the second division. Both teams went into battle with unwavering conviction and determination, but in the end there could be only one winner.

Thabani Mntungwa gets ready to pass.

Thabani Mntungwa gets ready to pass.

Piet Retief were first on the scoreboard, with a converted try ten minutes in, but Vryheid fought back, with three tries in the first half by Arrie Radebe, Pienaar Breytenbach and Thabani Mntungwa, respectively and a conversion by Matthew Stride.

Matthew Stride goes for the posts.

Matthew Stride goes for the posts.

Piet Retief managed to penetrate Vryheid’s defense, scoring a try in the 35th minute, but Vryheid bounced back with a try from Monde Msomi and a penalty shot at the posts by Matthew Stride against Piet Retief shortly after.

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Another two tries from Piet Retief kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, until Vryheid’s Mxolisi Mbatha put another five points on the board for the hosts with a try, converted by Matthew Stride.

David Sandalls launches into a tackle against Piet Retief as Lwazi Mdluli, Chris Pretorius and Matthew Stride stand by in support.

David Sandalls launches into a tackle against Piet Retief as Lwazi Mdluli, Chris Pretorius and Matthew Stride stand by in support.

In the dying moments of the match, Piet Retief managed to cross the tryline once more, but it was not enough to claim the title of NNRU second division champions.

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Unyielding in their passion for the game and with a fire in their hearts that dispelled the ruthless chill in the air, Vryheid’s seconds emerged victorious against Piet Retief, who came close, but were no match for the home side by the final whistle, leaving the visiting team trailing by five points at the close of play, 32 – 27.

Lwazi Mdluli throws himself into a fervent tackle against Piet Retief.

Lwazi Mdluli throws himself into a fervent tackle against Piet Retief.

Man of the match for the backs was Thabani Mntungwa and for the forwards, Chris Pretorius.

Vryheid’s first team followed in the main event, the NNRU First Division Final against long-time rivals, Piet Retief.
A volatile first half began with a penalty for the visiting side five minutes into the game, putting them three points ahead on the scoreboard at an early stage.

 

Ten minutes later, a controversial yellow card, allegedly his first in five years, saw Vryheid’s feisty Outside Centre, Carl Holzhauzen, sent to the sin bin for foul play. Piet Retief missed their subsequent penalty shot at the posts.

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Vryheid’s number 14, Armand Holzhauzen, struck quickly, wasting no time in placing the ball over the tryline in the sixteenth minute, with Francois Scheepers adding to the score with a successful kick at the posts.

First team captain, Mornè Ellis, tackles a Piet Retief player in the NNRU First Division finals.

First team captain, Mornè Ellis, tackles a Piet Retief player in the NNRU First Division finals.

The fiery first half played out in frosty conditions without further score from either side.

Three minutes into the second half, a penalty against Piet Retief saw Scheepers taking another successful kick at the posts, putting the hosts well in the lead and racking up another seven points with a try and a conversion six minutes later.

Francois Scheepers takes a kick at the posts.

Francois Scheepers takes a kick at the posts.

A penalty against Vryheid resulted in Piet Retief scoring another three points as the clash between the two opposing teams continued.

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Francois Lindeque made a dash for the tryline 63 minutes into the game, scoring a magnificent try, which was converted by Francois Scheepers, but Piet Retief saw a gap in Vryheid’s defense, scoring another seven points in the form of a converted try.

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In the last six minutes of the intense battle between Vryheid and Piet Retief, agile Right Wing, Armand Holzhauzen, owned the tryline scoring two tries, one converted by Francois Scheepers, to cement the win for Vryheid, driving the final nail into the coffin of Piet Retief’s slain hopes for victory, with a final score of 36 – 13 for the hosts.

NNRU President, Petrus Van Der Merwe, hands over the trophy to Mornè Ellis, captain of the winning team, who led his squad to victory in the finals.

NNRU President, Petrus Van Der Merwe, hands over the trophy to Mornè Ellis, captain of the winning team, who led his squad to victory in the finals.

Although teamwork was pivotal for this win, the decision for man of the match was not difficult, as Francois Scheepers and Armand Holzhauzen dominated the scoreboard for Vryheid, earning their well-deserved nominations for Man of the Match for the forwards and backline respectively.

“I would like to offer a special word of thanks to our sponsors who have made it possible for our players to reach the finals,” said Vryheid Rugby Club President, Rieg Verster. “Sponsors make it possible for young sportsmen to reach their goals.”

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The next matches for the club will be to determine the best first division side in KZN in a battle between north and south. The first team will play against Richards Bay and the second team will face Westville. At the time of going to print, venues for these matches had not been confirmed.

View the gallery of photos below…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  AUTHOR
Elaine Rodway

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