The final day of the 2017 VAL Aloe Cup dawned underneath overcast skies, but there was no wind and the weather was perfect for playing rugby.
From the onset, it was clear that the day would provide the close finishes that would get the crowd involved and leave results in doubt until the final whistle.
The first match between Volkskool and Knysna was the only one of the day that featured some daylight between the teams at half time, with Knysna building a 17-0 lead at the break. The second half was an entertaining display of rugby by both sides. The teams shared 4 tries between them and the final score of 29-12 in Knysna’s favour was a fitting end for a team that played their best rugby in their final match of the tournament.
The second match of the day featured the hosts against the visitors from Durban, Glenwood. With both schools having some scoring opportunities that they squandered in the first half the half time score of 0-0 seemed a fair reflection. Glenwood scored a converted try early in the second half and for a while seemed set to increase their lead, however desperate defense by Jeffreys Bay kept their attack at bay. With vociferous home town support the Jeffreys Bay team clawed themselves back into the game and after some nice structured play scored in the corner. The conversion attempt from out wide hit the post and left Glenwood leading 7-5, which was also the final score.
Game 3 for 3rd place between Handhaaf from Uitenhage and Durbanville from Cape Town seemed destined to be a battle between the bulky pack of forwards of Handhaaf and the talented backs and loose forwards of Durbanville. That is the way it transpired. Handhaaf disrupted the Durbanville line-out and unsettled their scrum, depriving Durbanville of clean ball. The first half ended scoreless. The second half saw some changes to the Durbanville side and a crisper service from the scrumhalf gave the outside backs more time and space and they looked more dangerous. The player of the match, and probably the day, was the Durbanville 8. This young man did it all, tackling, linking, stealing balls on the ground and carrying the ball into contact. An unconverted try and penalty saw Durbanville home 8-0, but a lot of credit should go to a Handhaaf side that impressed everyone with their play.
And so the final match arrived, a re-match of the 2016 final between Grey Bloem and Gene Louw from Cape Town.
From the start it was clear that the Gene Louw had a clever tactical approach to the game, carrying the ball in the first 2 channels with the 3, 5 and 8 prominent in this regard and rushing up in defense, denying Grey the time and space to dictate on attack. A single successful penalty kick for Gene Louw separated the teams at half time.
Grey started the second half with a totally different tactical approach on attack, kicking the ball into the space left behind the rush defense of Gene Louw. This gave Grey some field position, something that they lacked in the first half. The first Grey try was a direct result of a kick and the bounce vagaries of a rugby ball, the second followed after a period of sustained pressure and the final score of 14-3 in Grey’s favor was a fair reflection and just reward for a dominant second half.
And so the 2017 VAL Aloe Cup came to an end. There is a lot of confidence that the 2018 edition will be even bigger and better….
Each team had a nominated player of the tournament:
Glenwood - Nathan Colby
Grey - Pieter van der Merwe
Volkskool - AJ de Jager
Knysna - Gino Fredericks
Jeffreys Bay - Caylim Tobie
Durbanville - Kobus Blanckenberg
Gene Louw - Dale du Toit
Handhaaf - Jayden Erasmus
Forward of the week - Pieter van der Merwe - Grey
Back of the week - Dian Smal - Gene Louw