Tendai Dube & Lutho Mtongana
The Young Doctors (Medics) celebrate their 16-13 win against Masakhane in the finals of the internal rugby league. Photo: Lutho Mtongana
CORRECTION: Wits Vuvuzela initially reported that Men’s Res won against the Engineers but it was the Engineers that won the game. We regret the error.
After a 10-year losing steak, the Medics have finally claimed the top spot on the internal rugby league by beating Masakhane 16 – 13 at Wits University last night.
The Young Doctors scored the winning try of a high-pressured game that saw both teams at 13-all in the last ten minutes.
“My favourite part of the game was when Charl Stonewall Bosman (medics) slotted that drop goal”, medics captain, Patrick Chappel said.
“It was a tremendously difficult game, it was really tough, there has been a slow rivalry between us and Masakhane for a while now but it was fantastic and the boys are over the moon,” said Chappel.
Although the game ended sadly for the Masakhane boys their captain, Katlego Maseko believes the team put their all in the game.
“The team played amazingly, I think the boys put their all and their hearts into it but as captain, I let them down”, Maseko said.
“We deserved more from the outcome of the game,” he added.
The first half of the game showed Medics leading 13–0 against Masakhane but the Masakhane boys came back hard after an intense pep talk from their captain, telling the team to put out their hands, face-up and grab for the coveted trophy. In the second half Masakhane managed to equalise the score 13-all, but it fell short as the Medics scored once more.
The evening started with a “curtain raiser” match between, Mens Residence playing once again against the recently disqualified Engineers, Engineers won 47-8.
Humanities (Titans) and South African Hellenic Association (SHA) also played a “bowl final”, where the Titans walked away 64-0.
Monash and SHA tackle on the field for the ball. Photo: Lutho Mtongana
Monash University won its internal rugby league match against Steinhoff South African Hellenic Association (SHA) on Wednesday, 31 to 25, but left many of its fans frustrated with their poor defense.
Steinhoff was racing for the goal line but while Monash players surrounded the ball-handler, none made an attempt to tackle, giving away an easy try.
“Do they play touch rugby when they practise?” one Monash fan said with frustration.
Steinhoff SHA’s strong tackling helped them keep up with Monash and with the score staying neck and neck throughout the match. After the first half, Monash led with 15 points while SHA was behind with only 10.
Despite the frustration from Monash supporters during the match, they were filled with enthusiasm and delight when their team ended with a victory against SHA.
Monash player Chris Ndanga said his team had one with several new players, with only four or five senior members on the field.
“They [SHA] tackled high which made them easy to defend off considering most of the guys in our team are smaller,” said Ndanga.
Ndanga acknowledged that the margin of victory could have been greater if they had given away fewer errors.
“I feel we could have won by a bigger margin if it wasn’t for a few defensive and handling errors,” Ndanga said.
The Monash match was one of three played on Wednesday night. In the other matches, Commerce took on the Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI) Tigers and Masakhane faced Men’s Residence.
MGI Tigers, who are newcomers to the internal rugby league, got off to a bad start and wound up losing to Commerce with a score of 7 to 16.
Widely considered to be one of the best teams in the internal league, Masakhane won with a score of 26 to 0 against Men’s Residence, even after three of their players were injured and had to be replaced.
Another two matches were scheduled for the evening, Engineers versus Knockando and the Medics versus SAUJS, but were cancelled because one of the fields was closed.
Despite the cold weather, the crowd sang songs and roared with energy throughout the night. Monash received the greatest support as family, friends and schoolmates came out to watch them leave Wits rugby grounds victoriously.
THE WITS internal rugby final will once again be contested between reigning champions, the Humanities Titans, and last season’s runners-up, the Engineers, on Wednesday, September 7.
Both teams won their respective semi-finals.
The Titans edged out Medics in a close game by a score of 15 points to 12, returning to winning ways at just the right time after two losses in a row.
The Engineers had a much easier time against their opponents, thrashing Commerce 52-7.
The Engineers will be very confident with their form going into the final after finishing top of the log after the super six stage, as well as beating their final opponents two weeks ago.
Engineers had the meanest defence during the last round of fixtures and will be hoping to keep the free flowing backline of the Titans at bay. As history has shown, a strong defence is key to winning any knockout game, as the Boks and the Bulls have shown in past seasons.
Front rower Neil Nelson from the Engineers is not taking anything for granted:“It’s going to be a tough game, but the two most deserving teams are definitely in the final,” he said. “Obviously I back the Engineers but the Titans are a good team with a lot of talented players, but so are we.”
Titans loose forward Zander Venter echoes Nelson’s sentiments, and knows that his team will have to be at their best to defend their crown.
“I think there is no longer a firm favourite going into the final. It’s going to be a hard-fought physical encounter and the team with the most heart will win.”
However, as Venter explains, it takes more than strategy and technique to win games such as these; it also requires that bit of magic that comes through when the game is played for the right reasons.
“Titans play for the fun of the game with all heart and no practice,” said Venter. “That’s our winning formula. The philosophy of champions.”
Unlike last season, the Titans are going into this game at the very least on an equal footing, and could even be seen as underdogs given recent form.
This may play into the hands of the reigning champs but they will know that Engineers will be desperate to get the trophy that they relinquished to their bitter rivals last season.