A multitude of no less than 9 000 visitors were treated to a spectacle of good, old-fashioned schoolboy sport at Balgowan on Saturday.
A penalty on the halfway line, calmly slotted by Hilton College pivot, Chris Horak, within the first 50 seconds of the 204th Michaelhouse versus Hilton extravaganza sent a shiver of foreboding down the spine of the home crowd faithful.
There wasn’t a compromising cog in the Hilton College Hockey Club machine, which won six of the eight fixtures lined up on the day.
Hilton u16 dominate
House’s U14A lads couldn’t improve on April’s 2-2 deadlock, going down 0-1. The first major reversal of the day came with Hilton’s 2-1 win in the U16A game, sealing their dominance in the age group.
A 0-0 stalemate in the second XI match preceded the first XI clash. It looked like trouble for the hosts when they found themselves 1-3 down at the break. Renewed resilience rallied the Boys from Balgowan to square off the second half with a goal apiece. The 2-4 score line a step up from the April outcome.
Down the avenue, Michaelhouse were ruthless in the age group rugby encounters. Reversals in both the U14A (20-10) and U15A (28-19) results were the cornerstone of the hosts winning all nine fixtures, accumulating 410 points and conceding just 75 in the process.
Michaelhouse’s U16A boys romped home to their 33-10 win.
Old Boys exhibition match
The Old Boys of the Covid years went toe to toe in an exhibition match on Meadows. Michaelhouse cantered to a comfortable 48-0 win.
Wins for the home 7th and 6th XVs and a 16-7 win for the Michaelhouse fifths, wrapping up an unbeaten season for them, highlighted a significant feature of the 2022 Michaelhouse rugby culture.
The going was heavy though for the top four open age group home sides. House’s seconds endured a disappointing end to an otherwise first-rate season, capitulating 7-29 to a motivated Hilton College.
Back to Horak’s long range first minute penalty, punishment for a scrumming infringement, the last of the day, as Michaelhouse proceeded to stamp their absolute authority on that aspect of play — a feature they were neither rewarded for, nor able to fully capitalise on.
Where Michaelhouse ruled in the scrums, Hilton were characteristically flawless in the lineouts. Michaelhouse’s mauling was impressive and was the key to unlocking the visitor’s defence when flanker Fortune Mpofu was the first to cross the whitewash on the day for a converted try.
Michaelhouse strung phases together but squandered opportunities to crack Hilton’s defence again.
Hilton’s Jack Waterhouse scored against the grain of the half, followed by front row forward Nicolas Snyman doing the same to catapult the visitors into a 20-7 halftime lead.
Hilton’s halfbacks, Christopher Roy and Horak continued to put the boot in with a sophisticated display of kicking out of hand.
On the other hand, Michaelhouse’s scrumming game and physicality were just hitting boiling point and they weren’t done yet when giant number eight, Wandile Mlaba, obliterated a path across the try line to close the chasm to 23-15.
The charged down conversion attempt by vice-captain Ayabonga Zakwe was the cause of many in the crowd reaching for their phones to catch an action replay on the live stream.
The sides traded tries in the twilight minutes through replacement Kweyama and Smith for the home side to see Hilton College win 30-22.
• Murray Witherspoon is the head of admissions and marketing at Michaelhouse.