Playing against a Super League A team, Primrose, at this early stage in the season was always going to be a juicy encounter. This would be the first real test for Village this season and most importantly an opportunity to see where the guys stood going into the season proper.
Physically Primrose put out an enormous pack which initially looked like a daunting task for Village. Going into the game Village knew this and hence prepared for an open game with the plan to spread the Roses’ giants from side to side. From the get go this tactic worked like a dream with acres of space being left on the outside as Primrose struggled to fold fast enough and hence keep up with the pace of play. The initial pressure worked in the favour of Village as flyhalf Izak Scholtz took the opportunity to convert a neat drop goal from the 10m. 3-0 Village.
Primrose came back hard and put some neat phases together. The Village defence held well but in the end the dam wall broke as the Roses’ wing finished off extremely well on the touch line to dot down in the corner. The conversion was missed. 5-3 Roses.
This blip did not however deter Village as they came back attacking out wide with the backs showing some exceptional skills and direct running. After a period of phase after phase with some menacing carries in the midfield by a number of players led by new lock Mike Mudemnyelwa Village eventually finished off clinically via the backs with talented winger Joel Murphy crossing the white line in front of the home fans. Vintage Village rugby. 8-5 Villager.
Villager continued to dominate general play with flyhalf Scholtz distributing and taking the the ball nicely to the Primrose line. It must also be noted that Village more than held their own in the tight phases. Encouraging signs for this early in the season against a much more fancied opposition. The momentum stuck with Village until half time allowing them to convert another penalty and go into the sheds at 11-5 up.
At half time the general feeling was that the game was there for the taking as the burly Primrose pack clearly started to swelter and tire in the mid-afternoon heat. Right after the break Scholtz kicked cross field only for the ball to be collected by the nippy Primrose wing who took on the disjointed chase by the Village backs. Some neat inter play by the Roses’ outside backs then led to a relatively soft try for Primrose. Not the ideal start to the half. The kick was converted 11-12.
This score seemed to galvanise Primrose as they started to inch their way back into the game, a worrying sign for Village. Primrose came back at Village with a series of line attacks that were defiantly defended by the men in white. The improvement on defence was impressive from the previous week as wave after wave of Primrose attack was held short of the Village line. Finally Primrose got awarded a penalty and took the score to 11-15.
The game then opened up nicely with both teams displaying some deft touches. This led to first a penalty to Village 14-15 and then one to Primrose 18-14. The game finished at 18-14.
All-in-all it could be said that Village were not happy with the loss but not unhappy either. It was an entertaining game of good open rugby with a little bit of edge. Long live club rugby.
Villager take on Hamiltons at the Stephan Oval next week.