The Northern suburbs side are now sitting comfortably in the top five, having beaten Strand and Helderberg in their first two league matches of the season. However, it was always going to be difficult to get away with maximum points against the hard-running and tough-tackling Collegians side in their Lentegeur fortress.
The Mitchell’s Plain side have developed a reputation for making things difficult for any team that face them in front of their fanatical supporters. And, Saturday’s match was no different.
Kraaifontein, on the other hand, went to that game with a mission of their own, as they were not going to surrender the unbeaten record they had worked hard to maintain.
That was a recipe for a good match and the two sides lived up to expectations, playing rugby of the highest quality.
They matched each other, man-for-man, in most aspects of the game and, as a result, there was very little that separated them on the day.
The draw, in the end, was a true reflection of what went down as neither of the sides had total control of things.
Kraaifontein coach Anthony Lambrechts said he was a little disappointed with the draw as he felt his side could have done a little better. He also noted that their opponents made full use of their home ground advantage as the fans were fully behind them throughout the match.
“I am disappointed because I think the guys didn’t really execute our plan. I think they were a little intimidated and overwhelmed by they occasion, which resulted in them making basic errors. We went there with the aim of collecting maximum points but that didn’t happen, we had to settle for a draw. We will now try using our next match to get back to winning ways,” he said.
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Lambrechts is also aware that their next game is not going to be easy either, as they take on another stubborn side, St George’s, away in two weeks time. His side will have to be on top of their game if they were to collect maximum points from that match, he said
“St George’s is a good side and I have no doubt they will come hard at us. We have already done our home work, studied their game and identified areas we will exploit. It is also important to make sure we play according to our strengths,” he said.
Lambrechts said they were happy with the side have started the season and the challenge was to make sure they keep performing consistently well. He said their good start to the season was a result of a thought pre-season training, when they worked on every aspect of their game.
“Of course, the season is going to be tough but our plan is to keep our unbeaten record for as long as possible. We have the players to do the job for us, we just have to make sure we execute our plan in every match we play,” he said.
In other action, Northerns (Noordelikes) RFC first team must be kicking their heels after going down 34-18 against Retreat in a match they shouldn’t have lost, considering their first half performance, at Avonwood, on Saturday.
It was the home side’s second loss in three Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) Southern League matches this season.
They started their campaign on a back foot, going down 29-9 to Young Wesleys in their league opener. They bounced back to beat Titans 27-10 in Grassy Park, two weeks ago.
In their match against Retreat on Saturday, the Elsies River-based outfit dominated their opponents in the first half, scoring two tries and one penalty, against the visitors’ one try and a penalty, to set up an 18-10 half time lead.
The nippy and highly street-wise Northerns players were too slippery for their bigger and slower opponents in the first half., leaving them to chase shadows for most of the half.
The home side recorded the first points of the match when they converted a penalty early in the first half. The visitors, however, responded immediately with a converted try to take a 7-3 lead midway into the first half. The home side came back strongly scoring a penalty and two tries, taking an 18-7 lead in the process. However, the visitors reduced the lead to 18-10 when they converted a penalty just before the half-time whistle.
The match proved to be a classic “game of two halves” as the visitors were a completely different side in the second half.
They took the match to Northerns and the hosts seemed to have no answers. The plan, it seems, was to give the pacey Northerns players little space to manoeuvre, suffocating them in their own half.
The home side’s defence tried hard to protect their territory as their opponents kept making inroads until they were rewarded with the first try of the second half, reducing Northerns’ lead to 18-17. Retreat were now piling more and more pressure, resulting in the home side making silly mistakes which proved costly.
The visitors were by far the better side in the second half, scoring three tries and a penalty. The home side didn’t record any points in the second half, and Retreat walked away with a bonus point after winning 34-18.
Northerns coach Juan Houtsamer admitted his side went “to sleep” in the second half as Retreat came hard at them. He said that could be a result of a number of things.
“Considering the way we dominated the first half, I have to say we threw this match away.
“The fitness levels of our guys were not up to standard as we seemed to be tired in the second half. That resulted us making a number of silly mistakes and unforced errors. Our ball-handling was not on point either, especially in the second half,” he said.
“It is also important to have a solid bench in this game as the substitutes should be able to come in and make an impact, but today it felt like our substitutes didn’t execute the plan properly,” he said.
Houtsamer said they will go back to the “drawing board”, rectify their mistakes and try getting their season back on track.