In their FNB Classic Clash Ndzondelelo changed history with a 14-13 victory over Spur Itembelihle on Friday afternoon.
Spur Itembelihle entered this game with seven wins on the trot over the old foe, but the seven fat years was doomed to come to an end in the packed Dan Qeqe Stadium in Zwide, in front of almost 3000 excited fans.
The game was played in near perfect conditions, with only a slight breeze blowing across the field and played at a frenetic pace, with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball.
Ndzondelelo kicked off with the slight breeze in their backs. The kick went out on the full and Spur Itembelihle had the first opportunity to attack but just handed the ball back to Ndzondelelo when wing Mtimkulu knocked the ball on.
Ndzondelelo used their big forwards to good effect. With powerful No.8, Ayabulela Khame, getting over the advantage line from the scrums, they kept the ball close, bashing it up with their forwards, while Spur Itembelihle used their quick backline to cross the advantage line. Spur Itembelihle’s problems began in the lineouts, with hooker Sbongile Nqweniso struggling with his throws, either skew or straight over the jumpers’ heads, with the result that they lost six lineouts in a row. The Ndzondelelo lineout, on the other hand, functioned very well and they used it as a platform to attack from. They used the driving maul to good effect and often had Spur Itembelihle in trouble from it.
It was from such a lineout that Ndzondelelo scored, when their big No.4 lock broke through a number of tackles to score close to the poles for a converted try. This seemed to wake the Spur Itembelihle side up as they swept up field with wave after wave attack on the opponents’ line. There were some huge hits with Ndzondelelo players often needing treatment. Something had to give and from a ruck close to the Ndzondelelo line, flank Afrika Busakwe powered over for an unconverted try. The half time score was 7-5 to the home side.
Spur Itembelihle started with the slight breeze at their backs in the second half and had the home team under pressure for quite a while but their defence held.
Spur Itembelihle had an early chance to take the lead, but fly half Anele Gans’s kick was just wide of poles. Spur
Itembelihle swept downfield from another attack but centre Tyson Smondile knocked the ball on. From the ensuing scrum Ndzondelelo kicked an up-‘n-under and their wing regathered the ball in a rather freakish way as wing Mtimkulu allowed the ball to bounce off his arms, bouncing perfectly into the arms of the opponents’ wing who nearly got through. This seemed to spur them on and they surged at the Spur Itembelihle line with one of their forwards squeezing his hand through the ruck for another converted try.
Spur Itembelihle, now 5-14 behind threw everything into the attack, Wing Ayabonga Mteto was successful with a penalty goal after the home side infringed in front of their poles and Spur Itembelihle was back in the game, with the Ndzondelelo side struggling to keep up with the pace of the game. Spur Itembelihle now controlled the game and were very unlucky not to score when lock Nkosinathi Made passed over wing Mtimkulus head with an open try line in front of him! Spur Itembelihle kept on setting up phase after phase and the gap finally opened as wing Slovo Dzaka raced over to score in the corner for another unconverted try,
The final whistle went almost immediately after that with the home side’s fans swarming onto the field to congratulate their heroes. Credit must go to both side for the attacking rugby they played and to referee Jonathan Mouwers for the excellent way in which he handled the game. Spur Itembelihle now will have very little time to lick their wound before they take on the tough Newton Tech side and Grey High the following week.