Clarke’s Captaincy Confounds Collegians

Villager recovered from a shaky start to overcome an inspired Collegians team at Lentegeur by 21 points to 15 on Saturday 15 May in their fifth round WP SLB fixture.

Playing in their unfamiliar black and red away strip, Villager FC dominated possession and the forward exchanges to defeat Collegians by scoring three converted tries to maintain their unbeaten run in the 2014 WP Super League B.

Villager, in keeping with their recent trend of starting games poorly, conceded a try in the 2nd minute of the game from a scrum after poor defence allowed the devastating Collegians backline to cut through untouched. The resulting conversion had the home side lead by seven and could have moved further ahead had the penalty they were awarded soon afterwards not fallen short.


Man of the Match, Ryan Germishuys, is proving his worth up front

In response, the Villager pack began dominating proceedings as predicted but for the second time in as many weeks their lineout failed to function at vital periods. One such occasion saw Villager fluff the throw on the Collegians five meter line, but were let off the hook at the subsequent scrum when referee Jarred Dorfman, who it must be said had an exemplary day in the middle, awarded a free kick to Villager which Ashley Clarke chose to be tapped, resulting in a try for himself. Daniel Clarke converted to level the scores.

Collegians moved into the lead after converting a penalty for off sides after a period of scrappy play that had villager on the back foot trying to get a grip on the elusive home runners. In response Villager stepped their attacking up a gear which resulted in a try for the ever powerful tight head prop and man of the match, Ryan Germishuys, who seems too big and too strong to stop when close to the line. Clarke converted to give Villager a four point lead.

Collegians attempted to close the gap through a penalty which again fell agonisingly short, much to the travelling supporter’s relief. However the home side were eventually rewarded when they scored an absolutely stunning try that saw the ball move down the backline with speed putting their winger into space to score in the corner. The try was not converted giving Collegians a slender one point lead.

As is often the case in rugby, the side conceding points strikes back almost immediately, and it was no different for Villager after they applied pressure straight from the resulting kick off which resulted in a handful of penalties in their favour. Captain Clarke, in a bold move, opted to go for the try rather than the easy three points on offer, a decision that was rewarded when he barged over to score what turned out to be the last try of the game on the stroke of half time. Daniel Clarke converted giving Villager an uneasy six point lead going into the half.

Half time score: 21 – 15

The second half had Villager facing the brisk south easterly wind that  proved to be difficult to handle but one that the home side did not use as well as expected to gain the territorial ascendency. The half saw sides trying to use their forwards to generate momentum, Collegians in particular began making good inroads in the Villager defence but their unorganised attack and unforced errors ensured they were never rewarded for their efforts.

Adrian Cleophas's ball carriers were decisive on attack

Adrian Cleophas’s ball carriers were decisive on attack

Collegians tactic of hassling the Villager scrumhalf Jonny Sweetnam was proving to be a thorn to the visiting side as it often neutralised their attack by forcing poor passes and slowing the game down. To combat this, replacement scrumhalf Daniel Anderson, whose ability to clear the ball under pressure, was brought on and proved a master stroke in returning some measure of stability to the visiting sides attack. Villager were further helped when Collegians were reduced to 14 men after a tip tackle on centre Brent Sanders, however their numerical advantage did not yield any further points as a result of poor handling and option taking at crucial times.

The biggest moment in the game came when Collegians turned the ball over in the midfield and broke the Villager defence forcing the visitors to scramble as if their lives depended on it. Against all odds Villager turned the ball over without conceding a try, instead being awarded a penalty on their five meter line. This type of defence is impossible to coach and comes down to the commitment of the individual players and for that the Villager players must be commended for their attitude in preventing the try.

Going into the last quarter Villager were on the receiving end of many nerve wracking moments as Collegians threw everything at the visiting team, however their repeated infringements at the breakdown kept Villager out of trouble on numerous occasions. One penalty that did go the home side’s way was used to kick for points in an effort to narrow the score to three, but again it fell short. Collegians last throw of the dice came from a centre field scrum on the halfway line which they used to bring their pacey outside backs into the game which came within a hair width of scoring, but to the delight of the visiting team the ball was knocked on and the final whistle sounded immediately afterwards confirming a crucial away win.

Gunner Hughes, head coach of Villager, was ecstatic after the game, “I am extremely proud of the way the guys fronted up today in difficult circumstances to come away with a win at Lentegeur. Not many teams come here and win, so to do so today makes me a very happy coach.”

Ashley Clarke's captaincy was superb on Saturday

Ashley Clarke’s captaincy was superb on Saturday

Hughes believes the platform the forwards laid was crucial in achieving the win, “There was no doubt that to win today the forwards needed to front up and break the Collegians pack down which I thought they did superbly. Although our lineout struggled at times the fact that all our tries were scored by the forwards shows how important they were in achieving this special victory.”

Winning at Lentegeur is not an easy task and although the credit lies with every player, the fact remains that the astute captaincy of Ashley Clarke ensured the players kept their cool in trying times, while Clarke’s decisions to go for the try instead of the points proved decisive. Hughes could not have been happier, “Ashley was inspirational today. He led from the front and came away with two tries for his efforts. His decisions to go for the try rather than the posts were brave but ensured an important victory. That kind of captaincy, together with the crucial role of the senior players, has kept this side moving forwards each week. This is a special group of players and I believe in them fully.” Hughes said.

Villager FC play Rangers RFC at home this week Friday at 9pm.

Villager Scorers:

Try: Ryan Germishuys, Ashley Clarke (2)

Conv: Daniel Clarke (3)

1st XV vs Collegians:

1. A. Cleophas 2. T. Lee 3. R. Germishuys 4. A. Coetzee 5. R. Williams 6. A. Wilkins 7. E. Ntaka 8. A. Clarke (cpt) 9.  10. D. Clark, 11. C. Terblanche 12. B. Sanders 13. S. Pattison 14. J. Valentine 15. J. Allderman

16. Z. Fredericks  17.  B. Blows 18. P. Viviers 19. K. Ngwanya 20. D. Venter  21. D. Anderson 22. M. Rockhill