The bragging rights for 2018 among the Joburg Afrikaans-medium schools belong to Helpmekaar after they beat Monument 27-18 at home in a fiercely contested encounter on Saturday. THEO GARRUN reports.
The game was played in blustery conditions, which made goal-kicking extremely difficult and in the end, Helpmekaar outscored their opponents by four tries to three, with two of their tries under the posts.
Helpmekaar played with the stiff breeze behind them in the first half and when they changed ends only three points up, it looked like they had not done enough.
They got the first try of the game, through wing Christiaan Bezhuidenhout following a full backline move, but Monnas scrumhalf Zihan Coetzee caught them napping when he took a quick tap at a free kick and darted between their retreating forwards to level the scores at 5-5.
It stayed that way until the last minutes of the half when Tiaan Botes slotted a penalty from right in front.
The wind subsided somewhat in the second half and Helpmekaar managed to spend most of the time in the Monnas half. After 15 minutes, lock Michael Amiras scored the first of two tries when he forced his way over following a quickly taken penalty close to the Monument line.
The Monnas forwards, with No 8 Izan Esterhuizen and flank Tristan Dullisear prominent, then began to assert themselves and Helpmekaar were forced to defend for an extended period. They did so quite effectively before Amiras got his second touchdown – a good individual effort, he broke free on the halfway line and ran 40m to score.
Despite the withering Helpmekaar tackling, Dullisear still managed to score two tries. The second, which closed the gap to 20-18, came with five minutes left in the game.
Monnas threw everything into the attack after that, but Helpmekaar had the final say when hooker Ricardo van der Merwe rounded off a long-range sweeping movement to make it safe at 27-18.
It was a Virseker Cup first league pool game and the win sealed second spot on the log for Helpmekaar, behind Garsfontein who beat Transvalia 22-20 on Saturday.
Transvalia will join Garsfontein, Helpmekaar and Monument in the semi-finals next weekend.
Helpmekaar – Tries: Christiaan Bezhuidenhout, Michael Amiras (2), Ricardo van der Merwe. Conversions: Tiaan Botes (2). Penalty: Botes.
Monument – Tries: Zihan Coetzee, Tristan Dullisear (2). Penalty: Coetzee.
Photo: Theo Garrun