Mopanie secured their place in next year’s Steinhoff Koshuis Rugby Championship when they beat Maroela 16-13 in the final of the UP-Tuks res league on 9 September. Mopanie will compete against residences from around the country in next year’s competition.
When the teams played each other in the final round of league fixtures, Maroela beat Mopanie 26-19 in a close encounter. However, Mopanie came into this fixture brimming with confidence after having beaten last year’s champions Onderstepoort in the semi-final.
Mopanie opened scoring early in the game when they converted a penalty after Maroela were penalised just outside their 22-metre line. Mopanie were awarded another penalty when a Maroela player failed to release the ball-carrier in time at the breakdown. Mopanie opted for a penalty but the attempt at goal was missed.
Mopanie were dominant at the set-pieces and they were able to thrash Maroela on a few occasions at the scrums, winning some much needed penalties.
With half time approaching Maroela produced a passage of play that saw them scoring the first try of the match. Slick handling coupled with some patience saw them dot down in the right-hand corner. However, the ensuing conversion from the corner was missed. Maroela led 5-3 at half time.
Mopanie hit back immediately after half time when they were awarded a penalty following an infringement from Maroela at the breakdown. The successful kick brought the score to 6-5 in favour of Mopanie.
Maroela were not content with trailing behind and put Mopanie under immense pressure, this time being awarded a penalty 35 metres out from the try line. The kicker made no mistake and Maroela were back in the lead.
Mopanie were awarded a penalty after the eighth man from Maroela was penalised for tackling the scrum-half before the ball was out of the ruck. The kicker duly converted the penalty goal bringing the score to 9-8.
A break from Maroela’s inside-centre set the side up close to the try line. Mopanie’s scramble defence could not regroup in time and Maroela were able to score in the next phase. The conversion was unsuccessful and Mopanie were now trailing 13-9.
Maroela were penalised ten metres from their try line for side entry into the breakdown. Mopanie chose to tap the ball quickly. They switched play and spread the ball to the right where they had a one-man overlap,which allowed them to score in the right-hand corner. The kicker showed a lot of composure to successfully convert bringing the score to 16-13 in favour of Mopanie when the final whistle blew.
The players judged to have been the best in their positions during the whole competition will now combine to form the Steinhoff Tuks Koshuis Barbarians who will take on their counterparts from UJ on 20 September at Loftus Versfeld.
Photo: Michael Mbaya