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Gymnasium takes title by single point

School rugby season ends on a high
Coach Janneman Brand's Lions completed their season unbeaten despite a strong challenge.
Andrew Poolman
Windhoek Gymnasium’s first rugby team, the Schoemans Group Lions, narrowly managed to survive a massive onslaught from KMC One Construction Windhoek Affies to be crowned the national Standard Bank under-19 Super League champions for 2022.

A last-minute penalty in front of the posts gave fly half JW Visagie the opportunity to overturn a deficit for the 24-23 win that dethroned Affies and denied them a third consecutive success, following their pre-Covid titles in 2018 and 2019.

Spectators at the Windhoek Gymnasium Lions Den stadium witnessed a memorable, drama-filled and tightly contested final between undoubtedly the two top sides in the league this year.

Affies worked over their right wing Nico Tromp for their first try of the match after 16 minutes, after his younger brother Van der Merwe Tromp at fly half landed a tactical kick deep in Gymnasium’s territory. The awkward high bounce deceived the retreating Lu-Hendro de Waal and allowed Affies centre Theunis van Wyk to retrieve the ball at full pace and off-load to Tromp senior, who scored in the tackle.



The edge

Affies full back André Siepker, after his match-winning performance in the semi-final against Samsung Windhoek High School (WHS) the previous weekend, had an off day from the kicking tee, missing two conversions and three penalties which could have kept the home side under much more pressure.

However, Affies left wing Jandre Esterhuizen grabbed his opportunities to score two great second-half tries for the yellow and blue. His first came within the first minute after half-time, as he took a high ball and beat his opposite number Suramie Kambombo, centre William Klazen and prop Otja Auala for a clear run to the left corner.

Esterhuizen was also on hand to take the final pass as his scrum half Fanus Jurgens accelerated into a half-gap between two Gymnasium defenders to send the wing over without a hand being laid on him.

The latter try put Affies 20-13 ahead – a deficit that Gymnasium decreased with a rolling maul try scored by flank Dirkie Theunissen. Visagie failed to convert, but his third and fourth penalties of the match were enough to give his side the edge when the final whistle blew.



Unbeaten

It was a satisfying day for Gymnasium as they won three and drew one of the four age group finals their teams were involved in.

Gymnasium’s under-19 second team beat WHS 21-19 in the under-19 A decider; while their under-15 team beat the same opposition by 16-15. Gymnasium and WHS’ under-14 teams drew 17-17 to share the trophy.

All the Standard Bank league finals were hosted at Windhoek Gymnasium – the first occasion in history that the country’s national schools league finals were not played at the Hage Geingob Stadium, which was unavailable due to a concert by Nigerian superstar Burna Boy.

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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