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Close call as 1sts edged out 20-19 in dying minutes

There are now two home games in a row for the local supporters to come down to watch, the first of which will be on Friday evening against Durban Collegians, the current log leaders.

THEY say rugby is a game of inches, and that may well be the case in most instances.

For Toti Rugby Club’s first team, however, it was a game of seconds, as they were 30 agonising seconds away from beating Jonsson College Rovers, in what would have been the biggest upset in recent seasons.

In an absolutely enthralling encounter played out on Rovers’ home field, it was the home team who struck the early blow with two tries in the opening minutes. Many of the spectators who came to watch might have been forgiven for thinking Toti were going to be on the receiving end of a Rovers hiding, especially when Toti was reduced to 14 men in those opening minutes after lock forward Pieter Harmse was yellow carded for a robust clean out at the ruck.

Toti were left with two choices – roll over and play dead, or fight back with every inch of their being. The fight back option was taken, and two penalty kicks via the boot of Wimpie Pretorius, to go with a try from hooker Mike Moxley converted by Pretorius, gave them a 13-12 lead going into half time.

Shortly after the resumption of the second half, Toti extended their lead when inside centre Ryno Els, making a welcome return to the side after an injury enforced layoff, broke the Rovers mid-field defence and timed his pass perfectly to a charging Moxley who went over for his second try of the afternoon. Pretorius was successful with the conversion and Toti were looking good at 20-12.

With their backs now against the wall, and their league hopes fading with the afternoon sun, Rovers sent in wave after wave of attack on the Toti line in a desperate attempt to salvage the game, and indeed their season. The next 20 minutes can only be described as epic, as the visitors repelled these attacks with such well organised and aggressive defence, that one spectator – a Rovers supporter at that – commented that it was the best he had seen in many years of watching club rugby. Rovers did manage to reduce the score to a one point ball game, scoring off a line-out drive, which is always difficult to defend against, for fear of giving away a penalty try.

With time up on the clock and the score at 20-19, Toti hearts were broken when Dusty Noble, the Rovers winger, went over in the corner for the winning try.

Many at the game, opposition supporters included, felt Toti had deserved the win as they played the better rugby and the team received a well deserved ovation from the crowd in attendance for their efforts.

Men of the match awards went to Mike Moxley, the abrasive hooker who has made a return to club rugby, and to centre Ryno Els for another great display on both attack and defence.

Toti seconds ran out with a side not at full strength, due to injury. This inevitably caused a mismatch at scrum and line outs, where College Rovers are extremely dominant. A special mention must go to Jaco Pyper who scrummed well in his new position at prop and put on a gutsy performance until the last whistle. Rovers, who top the log, put in a classy performance and ran in numerous tries to win 52-10. Toti never gave up, crossing the line twice with tries by Freddi Janse van Rensburg and the ‘little terrior’ Herny Woest. Man of the match went to Eugene ‘Pukke’ du Plessis and Michael Uppink. A special mention must be made of Jarrod Burne, definitely on his way back to full form and to all the Toti players who kept their heads held high until the end.

Toti thirds travelled into a different climate zone on Thursday night to take on the much improved and rejuvenated Hillcrest thirds. Trying not to die of hypothermia, Toti started like a house on fire and quickly ran into a 12-0 lead. Toti dominated the first half but due to some poor handling could not add to their tally. The second half saw Hillcrest on the offensive for the full 40 minutes, but resolute defense, especially from man of the match (yet again) Armand Van der Walt saw Toti hold out for a 12-7 win. The only unbeaten side in the league, Toti now holds a 10-point lead in the Foaden Bowl with two games to go and, barring cataclysmic disaster, should hold aloft the trophy come 2 August.

There are now two home games in a row for the local supporters to come down to watch, the first of which will be on Friday evening against Durban Collegians, the current log leaders. This promises to be another highly entertaining game of rugby, and the team would love to have another full house at Hutchison Park, which is always a wonderful place to play with the crowds behind them.

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