Going into uncharted rugby territory is never easy at the best of times but Go Nutz College Rovers flew into Windhoek for their opening Gold Cup match and couldn’t have wished for a better start to their 2017 National Club Championship campaign against their Namibian hosts FNB Western Suburbs.
It was a historic game in a sense as it was the first time that these two sides had faced each other with Rovers coming away with the all important bonus point win beating their hosts 46-17 and so starting their Gold Cup campaign off on a positive note. This after an hour of getting through customs in Windhoek, which makes their victory all that much sweeter.
What also made their victory that more significant was the fact they played with 14 men for 35 minutes after lock Chris van Leeuwen was given a red card and his marching orders. Van Leeuwen is not the type of player that one would expect to be red carded and being left with one player short on the field was always going to be a worry.
Be that as it may the two time National Club Champions looking for their third crown fought on bravely eventually out scoring Western Suburbs six tries to two and registering the third highest score in the opening round of the championship.
Leading 21-3 at the break after Suburbs flyhalf Justin Nel had opened the scoring with a penalty almost ten minutes into the game it wasn’t much later before Rovers began to find their feet and were soon awarded a penalty try to open their scoring in the first half. From then on it was Rovers who mainly dominated play with some great running rugby.
Rovers fullback Gav Scott led the point scoring spree scoring 21 points, crossing for the last try of the game to go with five conversions and two penalties with their ever improving center Brandon Bailing crossing for two touch downs while props Jarret Crouch and Thinus Volker also crossed for tries.
Western Suburbs replied with two tries from their impressive wing Gino Wilson with Nel converting both tries to go with his first half penalty.
2016 National Club Champions Rustenburg Impala opened their campaign with a comfortable enough victory beating Recall Security Bloemfontein Police 28-10 while last years runners up Direct Axis False Bay accounted for Roses United 43-19.
Wild card side Swallows edged out Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians 25-24 in an all Border derby, while in the last game of the weekend the other wildcard Tygerburg from Western Province ran up the second highest score of the weekend beating Gap Management Progress Uitenhague 54-27 in reportedly what could well have been the game of Round One.
In the remaining games home side, Old Georgians from Harare in Zimbabwe beat their visitors from the Golden Lions, Raiders, 57-31. Raiders were perhaps given a rude awakening as this was the biggest score in the opening round of the championship while in a closely fought game Speedy Car Sales Vaal Reefs narrowly lost to Northam Platinum Rhinos going down 27-21 and Sasol Hydra Arc Rugby beat Human Auto Welkom 40-24.
This weekend it will be Rovers turn to have a bye and will next meet Roses Unites in their first home game on 23 September. Meanwhile this weekend fixtures are Pool ‘A’ Sasol Hydra Arc Rugby vs Rustenburg Impala and Bloemfontein Police vs Vereeniging. Pool ‘B’ Northam Platinum Rhinos vs Old Georgians and Quins Bobbies RFC vs Vaal Reefs Pool ‘C’ Progress Uitenhague vs Swallows and Progress George vs Tygerburg. Pool ‘D’ Roses United vs Western Suburbs and Sishen vs False Bay