A winning weekend for Highlanders rugby

Highlanders head coach, Andre Swanepoel is pleased with his team's performance.

It was a weekend of success for the Boschpick Newcastle Highlanders rugby club.

All teams came away from matches with the win, including a maiden first team victory over Jaguars Rugby Football Club (RFC).

After the visitors’ bus broke down, the game hung in the balance.

Despite the two-hour wait, the match went ahead and head coach, Andre Swanepoel gave credit to referees who travelled from Richards Bay to adjudicate the encounter.

“Highlanders was determined to win; apart from a few friendlies, Jaguars won the last four encounters. We’ve waited three years for this,” Swanepoel added.

Highlanders began the match at a furious pace, leading by 19 points to nil mid-way through the first half.

Yet Jaguars hit back, and the halftime score was 14-19.

Swanepoel said the match was played on the knife edge, and with 10 minutes on the clock, Jaguars held a narrow 31-26 lead.

A converted try minutes later saw the home side ahead by 33 to 31.

“With about five minutes to play, fullback Telly Ngobese nailed a penalty kick to extend the lead to five points.”

In the last few set pieces, Jaguars knuckled down and fought hard.

The Highlanders defence held however, and the final whistle brought with it confirmation of a 36-31 victory for the home team.

Swanepoel said there were many highlights to appreciate.

He commended the team on clinical set pieces and improvement in chasing the kick-off, and noted the outstanding work of Ngobese, brought into the attack to replace Shane van Rooyen.

“In the forward pack, eighth man Andre Fourie is filling his little brother, Ruan’s shoes. Adriaan Koorts at tighthead prop is playing his best rugby ever, and is doing the division proud.”

Hooker, Mthoko Nkwanyane also enjoyed a corker of a match.

Of the backline, Swanepoel singled out centre pair, Gift Mabaso and Max Mkhize and winger, Ferrari Hadebe, who scored two deserved tries.

The player of the game was flyhalf, Bradley Swartbooi.

Highlanders II won its sixth clash on the trot, defeating Jaguars by 33-7 and again showcasing the talents of Janri Barnard at flyhalf.

He was supported well by Thembi Hlatshwayo, Junior Barnard and Shile Mbatha.

The third team secured its place in the League semi-final with a critical 34-25 win over Mighty Buffaloes, and contests the final at home on Saturday.

“Centre, Meldon Bezuidenhout was among the top players in this effort.”

Bruce Douglas

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