SATURDAY, August 25 saw the finals of the Golden Lions Club league being hosted by Union Rugby Club. Incredibly our local side, Alberton Rugby Club, were involved in three of the five finals played on the day.
You might recall that last year the u-19, u-21, first and second teams, all made it to the final. The u-19 and u-21 teams were crowned champions while the first and second teams were beaten. You may recall also that at the beginning of the year I had predicted that there would be three champion teams from Alberton, including one from the senior sides.
Against the wind
The weather definitely had an impact on the day as the wind was howling straight down the fields. This made winning the toss important, seeing if you would play with the wind in the first or second half, but it also became really important to play tactically well so as not to waste any advantage that the wind at your back might have had.
Obviously, I really felt for the kickers in these conditions. Not only the place kick, but kicks out of hand were super tough. Another area that was almost impossible was the throwing in to the lineout. The wind was blowing directly across the lineouts so the ball rarely went past the middle jumper.
The first local team that played was the u-21, which took on Bobbies in the final. Boosted by the return of players like Caltino Jones, Alberton played the first half into the wind. It was obviously not the most attractive game by having held the Bobbies team to 3-3 in the first quarter. It looked like Alberton were in the ascendency.
Then in the second quarter, Alberton had the Bobbies line under siege for long periods, and although the Bobbies defence was admirable, Alberton eventually broke through and crashed over the line to score a converted try. This would prove instrumental, and Bobbies would never recover from this position.
In the second half, Jones was switched from fullback to scrum half, though I am not sure if this was tactical or injury-enforced. This did influence the game though, and Jones, who has played anywhere in the backline, kept his side on the front foot.
They were too good for Bobbies in the second half, with the wind, and eventually won their second title in two years.
Next up were the u-19 who played against the old foe, Union. This was just as tough a game, and there were loads of passion displayed by both teams.
This game was a lot tighter, and Alberton again had the wind to their backs in the first half.
Union were in the lead until the last quarter when Alberton put the Union line under siege and managed two late scores to clinch the game. A very exciting game to watch.
Gladiators take a win
The last team to play was the second team and came up against Diggers. Alberton had only lost twice this year, both to Union.
The game started off badly for Alberton when Diggers were quick out of the blocks and scored two tries in the first ten minutes. Would this be another final that coaches Jaco Botha and Louis Odendaal would lose?
Alberton have always had a never-say-die attitude and would never just give up.
Henry Payne, the fly half, however, succeeded with two penalties to get the local side back into the game. The second one was a monster kick with the wind. Alberton scored a try before half-time to cut the deficit and were back in the game. In the second half, it was to and fro as Diggers appeared to have done enough. However, a late try by Payne himself set up a very good win.
The Gladiators, as they are known, had done it.
Final scores: u-19 – 19-14; u-21 – 18-8; second team – 21-20.
Under-19 tries came from Dwayne du Plessis, Juandre Reid and Anton Kleynhans with conversions by Julian Carr.
Under-21 tries scored by Ekene Felix, Hendre Bolton and Mervin Touzel with the penalty scored by Barend Vorster.
The second team tries scored by Theuns van der Merwe (2), Henry Payne (1) with penalties by Henry Payne (2).
Well done Alberton. You can be super proud of an excellent season.