The 119th playing of the Hollywoodbets Murray Cup club rugby knockout competition got off to a smooth enough start without any upsets in the qualifying round on Saturday.
Defending champions College Rovers were made to look very ordinary in their opener against their hosts Westville Old Boys at Jimmy Bellows Park, particularly in the first half, only leading 24-14 at the break.
They did come back strongly in the second half but made heavy weather of their victory march playing six new caps in their First XV line up. In the end they did go on to score 13 tries to three with fullback Gavin Scott, wing Minenhle Mthethwe and Steven Booysen, making his debut for the First XV off the bench after nine years of trying, all crossing for two each.
The other tries went to wing Mark Richards, flyhalf Andy Huyseman, lock Ryan Carlson, center Brandon Bailing, Menzi Ngidi coming off the bench and flank Molotsi Bouwer who was named Man of the Match. Scott scored the rest with his boot.
Westville who really deserve huge credit for their performance replied with tries from their speedy wing Kyle Botha who crossed for two and prop Jason de Broize with flyhalf Wes Singleton slotting three conversions.
In the other games Richards Bay travelled to Volksrus and came away victorious beating their hosts 79-22 with their Man of the Match Blessing Nhlozi leading the charge crossing for three tries Further down the line in Ladysmith eThekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti had the better of the home side beating the Bulldogs 86-13. Tristan Blewitt was adjudged the Man of the match. Across in Piet Retief the students from FNB UKZN Maritzburg accounted for their hosts winning 70- 27 with their man Sanele Baleni being awarded the Man of the Match.
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians made their second qualifying round visit to Vryheid and scoring an emphatic 97-10 win over the local side with Dillon Faber being nominated as the Man of the Match. UKZN Durban hosted Bidvest Insurance Crusaders going down 35-17 to their visitors with Wayne Lemley being named Man of the Match, while up at Shongweni in the closest game of the day South Coast Warriors edged out Land Rover Durban Hillcrest 17-7 with Brandt Field being named Man of the Match.
Finally at the home of the 128 year old original Murray Cup Trophy, Woodburn, Varsity College ran riot beating home side Maritzburg Collegians 90-7 with their Man of the match Mabhutana Peter leading the try scoring spree with three of the best.
The draw for the quarter finals took place on Monday evening in the Sharks changeroom at Jonsson Kings Park and sees the 2018 champions College Rovers at home to Richards Bay while last years runners up Durban Collegians will be entertained by Crusaders in Durban North. In the remaining games South Coast Warriors travel to the capital to meet UKZN Pietermaritzburg and Varsity College will enjoy home ground advantage against Amanzimtoti.
The draw for the Junior Murray Cup also took place with Hillcrest at home to Westville Old Boys. UKZN Durban will also travel to the capital to meet Maritzburg Collegians at Woodburn while up North Vreyheid will be at home to Piet Retief and Ladysmith will host Volksrus.