HOSTS Grey High were pushed all the way by an energetic Jeppe outfit before finally subduing their Johannesburg opponents 36-22 on the opening day of the Standard Bank Grey High Rugby Festival in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
An indication of Jeppe’s refusal to lie down came at the end of the game when they had the satisfaction of scoring the final try, but the home side had built a comfortable buffer by that stage.
The visitors were first to score but Grey struck back hard as they showed elusive running among the backs with tries by wing Uan Tait, fullback Sihle Njezula and flyhalf LJ du Preez.
It gave them a telling 17-7 lead at the break and although Jeppe showed great spirit by crossing for three tries in the second half, Grey had sufficient in the tank to keep control of the scoreline, also scoring three tries in this period.
In the main curtain-raiser, Dale displayed their running skills as they kept Daniel Pienaar under pressure throughout the game.
Three tries gave them a handy 21-0 lead shortly after the start of the second half before the Uitenhage team showed good fighting qualities to reply with tries by Ryan Oliphant and Morne Labuschagne.
But with Dale’s Aphelele Fassi rounding off an influential game with a try to go with four conversions, the King lads never lost their grip on the match.
Queen’s and Johannesburg rivals St John’s had a real arm-wrestle, with neither side able to gain any meaningful supremacy.
The Queenians scored the first try through hooker Gareth Heidtmann, to which St John’s replied with a powerful charge by centre William Davis, making it 7-7 at the break.
In the second half, St John’s took their chances when Queen’s infringed, with two penalties by flyhalf Kieran Houlstan proving the difference in a hard-earned 13-7 victory.
After a well-fought first half, which they led 14-7, Durban High School shifted into top gear in the second period to blitz Brandwag with four well-taken tries, stretching the score to 42-14.
The Durban lads were full value for their lead, seizing on any mistakes from their opponents to punish them with slick handling and hard running.
The situation looked ominous for the Uitenhagers, but they showed spirit in the last quarter of the match, crossing for three tries to narrow the gap to 18 points.
The best of these was a 60-metre run by diminutive scrumhalf Chad Adams after he broke through from his own half.
However, Brandwag had left themselves with too much to do and DHS firmed up their defence to register a deserved victory.
Hudson Park wing Avuyile Mbece showed his running prowess with two first half tries to spark the East London side to a solid 31-7 in the day’s opening game against Despatch.
The second effort was a gem from the halfway line when he outstepped a number of Despatch defenders to score under the posts.
Trailing 19-0 at halftime, Despatch showed better resolve in the second half and forced Hudson into a few errors, resulting in a try by Raynard Claassen.
However, the Border team stood firm and hit back with two more tries to run out comfortable victors.
Bloemfontein side Louis Botha Tech proved too strong for an outgunned Ithembelihle side, registering a 48-8 win, while Pearson will be happy to have notched up a 27-13 victory over St David’s