Hands&Heart could not repeat last year’s President’s Cup performance, going down 35-24 against Young Peoples in a Western Province Rugby Football Union SLB Top 8 competition final, at City Park, Athlone, at the weekend.
En route to the final the Rainbow boys beat Macassar and Mitchell’s Plain’s Collegians 61-12 and 42-41, respectively. The Paarl-based side beat Chukker Roads’ Violets and Helderberg 35-24 and 23-21, respectively.
The SLB President’s Cup Top 8 is a tournament for the teams who finished from seventh to 14th in the league.
On Saturday, Hands&Heart recorded first points on the board when Angelo Giddion went over for a try. Young Peoples, however, responded, immediately with a converted try to take the score to 7-all.
Hands&Heart winger Brandon Collins went over for his first try of the game but the boys in yellow responded immediately, taking the score to 12-all in the first quarter of the match.
It was much of the same in the second quarter as Young Peoples and Hands&Heart managed to score their third tries of the match. But it was Young Peoples that ended the half on a high when flanker Lester Williams scored before the half time whistle. Young Peoples led 26-17 at the break.
They continued where they left off and scored early in the second half. They further extended the lead when fly-half Charviano Rademeyer slotted over a penalty with Hands&Heart needing three tries to win their second consecutive title. In the end it was a bit too much as they could only score one more try through Collins.
Coach Peter Links said he was happy with his players’ performances because they were always in the game.
“It was a tough game because it is never easy to play Young Peoples. My players gave away too much turn over ball but they never gave up and kept on pushing till the end,” he said.
The Rainbow boys contested their second consecutive final after they beat Uni-Mil 32-27 in last year’s President’s Cup competition, at Newlands. This was after they also overcame Kuils River and NNK, who had all finished higher than them.
“It is great to be in two consecutive finals and play up against good opposition. We can only learn from our mistakes that will make us stronger,” he said.
Hands&Heart finished the league season in eighth place with 35 points. They won five and lost nine matches. They also scored 15 bonus points which was the most of the SLB teams. “We lost a few closely contested matches which we had to win but my players gave it their all this season,” he said.
Hands&Heart will also have their sights set on the WPRFU sevens competition, in Goodwood, next month. Last year, they went down 17-12 against Bellville in the shield final, in Kuils River.
Links said his side have already started training and believes they will do well with a mixture of youth and experience in the squad.
This year’s competition will see 36 teams competing. Twenty-five of them are Super League sides and the rest are clubs that play in the City, Southern and Northern leagues.
In other President’s Cup Top 8 finals, Raithby Universals beat Strand United 24-21 and SK Walmer beat UCT 53-31 to be crowed SLC and SLA champions, respectively.