Record crowds made themselves comfortable wherever they could find a spot on Rhodes University’s Great Field on a pleasant Monday evening, to watch the derby between FNB Rhodes and FNB UFH. It looked like FNB Rhodes were going to record their first win in the competition, but the opportunity was snatched from them as FNB UFH went on to win 30 points to FNB Rhodes’ 10.
FNB UFH opened up the scoring in the first five minutes of the game with a try from Sibusiso Sityebi. They were unable to convert and so the score remained 5-0 to FNB UFH until half time. Breakaway runs from FNB UFH’s flyhalf, Zaula Siphuxolo, looked to endanger the FNB Rhodes defence, but did not get over the line.
Although the first half was not packed with points, it remained exciting with convincing runs and defence from FNB UFH and FNB Rhodes respectively. Unfortunately, a fight broke out and four yellow cards were issued: one to FNB UFH’s Nkosinathi Njenje, Zayne Farmers and Zanoxolo Qwele, and another to FNB Rhodes’s Ryan Horne. With FNB UFH down to 12 men, FNB Rhodes fought to take advantage as FNB UFH crumbled under pressure with several passing and handling errors, but FNB Rhodes were unsuccessful.
The second half was kick-started by a try by Devon Barnard from FNB Rhodes after an intercept, then successfully converted by Mike Steel. This was followed by a penalty to FNB UFH by Jeandre Christian, bringing the score to 8-7 to the home team. FNB Rhodes managed to reach double digits after a penalty kick from Ryan Horne, cementing them at 10 points. The pace of the match drastically increased as FNB UFH dominated the rest of the game, scoring the remaining points with tries from Bulelani Mdodona, Zayne Farmers and Wilfred Bowers .
FNB Rhodes Coach Qondakele Sompondo said that fitness is not his team’s weakness anymore. “We are gutted, and I hate to say it but people must be patient – it’s going to come, and some of our challenges come with the territory, it’s a step up for us,” Sompondo said. He continued to explain that “From not playing at this level and to now having to step up and play at Varsity Shield level, it’s a different pressure and different intensity and, I mean, it’s quite clear [the boys] are not coping with it”.
Jono Braans, FNB Rhodes Captain, made his return against FNB UFH on Monday after a severe thigh injury, and was relieved to not be captaining from the sidelines anymore. “It feels great to be back out here – it’s very frustrating to be on the sidelines and especially since [my injury] happened in the very first game… luckily I didn’t feel much pain during my first match back,” Braans said. When reflecting on his team’s loss, he says that “it’s not really our systems that have let us down, it’s more bad mistakes during crucial times.”
FNB Rhodes have a bye next week, but will be back to play FNB WSU on 13 March on the Rhodes University Great Field at 18:30.
FNB Player that Rocks: Zayne Farmers (FNB UFH)
FNB Rhodes: 10
Tries: Devon Barnard
Cons: Mike Steel
Pens: Ryan Horne
FNB UFH: 30
Tries: Philisani Ncoko, Thulani Njenje, Zayne Farmers, Wilfred Bowers
Cons: Jeandre Christian (2)
Pens: Jeandre Christian (2)
FNB Rhodes: 1 Tshongweni Lukhanyo 2 Uzu Nyanda 3 Chris Whiting 4 Owethu Mkolo 5 Josh Parsons 6 Leandre Vos 7 Jono Braans 8 Devon Barnard 9 Yalusa Nodada 10 Mike Steel 11 Nic Butler 12 Ryan Horne 13 Okuhle Fumba 14 Keagan Deponselle 15 Daniel Coughlan
Replacements: 16 Chulu Jack 17 Mwambu Njolomba 18 Lwandile Mkosana 19 Tristan Cooke 20 Zuko Zote 21 David Nel 22 Lyndon Lambert
FNB UFH: 1 Lixhanti Tame 2 Mkhonto Caku-caku 3 Asiphe Fanele 4 Athenkosi Makeleni 5 Philisani Ncoko 6 Zanoxolo Qwele 7 Sibusiso Sityebi 8 Thulani Njenje 9 Lindokuhle Kenene 10 Jeandre Christian 11 Siphuxolo Zaula 12 Xolela Daniela 13 Somila Jho 14 Zayne Farmers 15 Wilfred Bowers
Replacements: 16 Litha Magocoba 17 Bulelana Mdodana 18 Siphosethu Tsotsa 19 Leon Ndlovu 20 Qhama Masiza 21 Luyolo Batshise 22 Sibongile Novuka 23 Sivuyile Mdishwa
By Gabi Bellairs-Lombard