Jeppe High School for Boys won their second game in a row on Saturday, but they were given an almighty scare by a plucky St Alban’s College.
Jeppe took one of the few games played in Joburg on the day 33-27 after being 27-12 down at half time, outscoring St Alban’s 21-0 in the second half.
Just about every other fixture in Gauteng was called off after two solid days of rain on Wednesday and Thursday on the Highveld left fields waterlogged. Jeppe and St Alban’s left their decision to Friday afternoon and were vindicated when Saturday morning in Joburg dawned clear and the fields dried rapidly, making for an open, running game of rugby.
St Alban’s were first on the board via a penalty by flyhalf Ronaldo Daniels in the 2nd minute, but Jeppe struck back with tries in the 10th and 11th minutes, by Sipho Vayise and Sibu Shongwe. Muzi Manyike converted the second of them and with Jeppe leading 12-3, they looked set for a comfortable victory.
St Alban’s started to see more of the ball, however, and their elusive backs began to make inroads, leading to tries by centre Luke Texeira and by Daniels, both converted by the flyhalf, who added a second penalty, taking them into a 20-12 lead.
Shortly afterwards St Alban’s lock, Simon Miller, who was impressive in the lineouts and on the run, stole the ball in a maul that Jeppe seemed to have under control and ran 35m to the tryline. Daniels converted and the teams changed ends with the visitors 27-17 up
Jeppe coach, Carl Spilhaus must have read the riot act to them during the break because they came out a changed team in the second half and they scored three goals to clinch the game.
They tightened up their defence and began to take the ball up through the phases instead of trying to move it wide every time and that paid dividends immediately when hooker Karel Zowitsky went over in the second minute of the second half.
Minutes later, scrumhalf Kabelo Mokheti hurdled a pile of players on the ground to touch down, and Jeppe were back in the game at 26-27 down.
The winning try was scored by replacement hooker Wellington Motaung who went over under a pile of bodies from a lineout drive.
St Alban’s launched a ferocious late attempt to salvage the match, but the Jeppe defence held out and they go into the Easter Festival at KES next week with some confidence.
Jeppe won all the other rugby fixtures on the day quite comfortably, but it was clear that this St Alban’s 1st team, under the coaching of former Zimbabwean international Kennedy Tsimba, is a cut above the rest of the school. They are going to win some big games this year.
Jeppe High School for Boys 33 (12) – Tries: Sipho Vayise, Sibu Shongwe, Karel Zowitsky, Kabelo Mokhethi, Wellington Motaung. Conversions; Muzi Manyike (4). St Alban’s College 27 (27) – Tries: Luke Texeira, Ronaldo Daniels, Simon Miller. Conversions: Daniels (3) .Penalties: Daniels (2).