St John’s College beat St David’s 27-19 in a thrilling contest at St John’s on Saturday, writes THEO GARRUN.
St John’s had to withstand a spirited second-half comeback from the visitors to secure a victory that was closer than the final scoreline suggests.
The hosts raced into a 19-0 lead thanks to tries by winger Clayton Pather, flank Tsholofelo Kgobe and hooker James Ives. Although St David’s pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, when winger Joshua Black gathered a loose pass and ran it in from 40m, they looked firmly in control at the break and seemingly on their way to a comfortable victory.
St John’s stretched their lead to 24-7 early in the second half when Pather got his second after a good backline move. Things changed minutes later, however, when St David’s were awarded a penalty try, accompanied by a yellow card after cynical play by St John’s at a ruck close to the tryline.
This energised the visitors and they began running the ball from deep positions, and came close to scoring on a number of occasions before captain Michael Farr forced his way over under a pile of bodies to close the gap to 24-19.
St David’s looked the stronger side from then on, but they took the wrong option when tries looked likely more than once. When St John’s eventually managed to break out of defence, they were awarded a penalty which captain Bismarck Olivier slotted to make the game safe and they closed out the last few minutes successfully.
St David’s coach, Johan Black, rued those poor decisions.
‘Our decision-making let us down at crucial times,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘I was pleased with the comeback, however. We looked dead and buried, but the boys never gave up and we came close in the end. We have been heavily hit by injuries and I thought the youngsters we brought in did very well.’
St John’s coach Gerrie Visser felt they lost their composure in the second half and their discipline slipped.
‘The penalty try and yellow card was a major turning point and I don’t think we handled the man-down situation very well. All credit to St David’s and their fighting spirit, however. We had an excellent first half and I thought we did well to close out the game against strongly finishing opponents.’
St John’s – Tries: Clayton Pather (2), Tsholofelo Kgobe, James Ives. Penalty: Bismarck Olivier. Conversions: Olivier (2).
St David’s – Tries: Joshua Black, Michael Farr, penalty try. Conversion: Liam Tonetti.
Photo: Theo Garrun