Monument advanced to the final of the Tuks Series by beating Garsfontein 68-31 in Krugersdorp on Saturday. THEO GARRUN reports.
The hosts needed to win, and score five tries for a second bonus point, to advance to the final and they did that with some room to spare after scoring 10 tries in the end.
With Monument needing those five touchdowns and Garsfontein having nothing to lose, it was always going to be a tryfest and both sides obliged with running rugby that kept the big crowd thoroughly entertained. Garsfontein scored five tries of their own, as both defences slackened in a helter-skelter second half, but they never looked like matching a Monnas side that dominated in all phases of the game.
The visitors were actually first on the scoreboard via a try by No 8 Junior Snyman in the second minute, but that was the only time they led in the game and when Monument clicked into gear they scored tries regularly, edging further and further ahead.
At the break the home side were 28-14 ahead, four tries to two, and they added six more in the second period.
There were Monnas backs who looked unstoppable – centre Douw Scheepers, fullback Dean Lategan and winger Reuben Barnard in particular – but the victory was very much due to their forwards.
Hooker and captain Morné Brandon was colossal. He scored two tries and had a hand in just about everything that happened. Their loose trio – Franco Schutte, Tristan Dullisear and Izan Esterhuizen – cleaned up in the loose, stealing ball after ball, while their set pieces, the lineouts in particular, were just too good, which meant that Garsfontein battled to get their hands on the ball.
Garsfontein’s tries were all long-range, individual efforts. Their star centre, Diego Appollis, was simply never given room to move, but he still managed to show some good touches, and fullback Juandré Scheepers is a powerful runner who ran the ball back well and was rewarded with two tries.
The Tuks Series does not have semi-finals this year – the top sides in the two sections go through to the final – and Monument’s six-point haul on Saturday meant that they ended one point ahead of Transvalia in their group. Menlo Park beat EG Jansen 22-21 in the decider in the other group, so they will face Monnas in the final on Saturday, 5 May.
Before then, Monument play Paarl Gym and Grey College at the Wildeklawer festival next weekend, while Garsfontein will go to the Grey High Festival where they play HTS Daniel Pienaar and DHS.
Monument coach Tjaart van der Walt was understandably pleased with his side’s performance.
‘For the first time this season we were good for the whole 70 minutes,’ he said. ‘I was particularly pleased with our set pieces. We kicked a bit aimlessly at times, and our kick-chase wasn’t good, which let them in for tries they should not have got. We will have to work on that before Wildeklawer.’
Garsfontein’s Johan du Plessis said he was disappointed with their first phase play, particularly the lineout.
‘We couldn’t get our hands on the ball and, at one stage we lost five lineout throw-ins a row, you can’t win games that way,’ he said.
‘We did, however, have 10 first-choice players missing for various reasons. That’s not an excuse, Monnas were brilliant on the day. We will go back and regroup and we’ll be ready for them when we meet on 9 June in the Virseker Trophy.’
Monument – Tries: Henco van Wyk, Tristan Dullisear, Morné Brandon (2), Rueben Barnard, Dean Lategan, Zihan Coetzee, Douw Scheepers, Zander Oberholzer, Brandon Pawson. Conversions: Byron-Lee Wentlink (9).
Garsfontein – Tries: Junior Snyman, Juandré Scheepers (2), Jurich Grobler, Christiaan Claasens. Conversions: Claasens (3).