7 August 2016 – The Saint Andrew’s 1st XV will represent Bloemfontein in the Kovsie League for medium-sized schools after completing an unbeaten season in the B-League with a 36-24 victory over Landbouskool Hendrik Potgieter of Reddersburg in the final at Shimla Park on the weekend.
Saints finished the B-League round-robin with the maximum possible 50 points and after their final win will next host Henneman, the runners-up from the Grirfons’ League at home on Saturday.
The win over Reddersburg, though, was far from a comfortable victory for Saint Andrew’s, who were pushed all the way by the boys in green. In fact, they found themselves in a three-try hole early on in the clash.
Making good use of a strong wind at their backs, Reddersburg forced Saints deep into their half. Then, with good backline play and by capitalising on Saint Andrew’s mistakes, they established a useful 17-0 lead.
It was one-way traffic, but Saints showed good character to adjust their gameplan and find a way to reduce the deficit. With lock Dylan de Jager at the forefront, they turned the remainder of the first half into a forward-dominated battle, driving the ball up with the pack to make ground before crossing for two tries, the first of which was a memorable charge for the line by prop Melgardt Minnaar.
With flyhalf Michael Maree adding the extras, the teams turned with Hendrik Potgieter 17-14 to the good. However, with Saints also using the wind to their advantage, that lead did not last long.
Having notched a try in the first half, scrumhalf Jacques de Bruin led the way for Saint Andrew’s in the second, once more forcing his way over from close range before running through untouched from 40 metres out.
Hale Mokoa and Ryan Smith added further five-pointers before Reddersburg had the final say with a try in the left-hand corner, which was converted, to finish 12 points adrift of Saints.
After the match, Saints’ head of rugby AJ Mouton admitted the boys in blue had been pushed very hard. “They really threw everything at us, especially in the first 20 minutes with the wind advantage in their favour,” he said.
“I said to [coach] Ruben [Heymans] ‘if we can turn at 17-10 down, we’re in with a shot’.
“Our lock Dillon de Jager, he just turned everything around up front. We reached half-time at 17-14 down, and the rest was then history. We had turned the game already. We were still three points behind on the scoreboard, but the game had already turned in our favour.”
Mouton lauded scrumhalf Jacques de Bruin for his contribution and said prop Melgardt Minnaar and flank Kholeli Sekhibane had also had “great games”. He added: “Michael Walsh was, again, exemplary.”
In the under-16 final of the B-League, Saint Andrew’s defeated Brandfort 29-12, while the Saints 2nd XV eked out a 39-35 win over Reddersburg in their clash.