The Griffons and the Falcons scored nine tries between them to end deadlocked at 37-37 in an entertaining Craven Week clash in Polokwane.
He had not missed a kick all day. He had been an outstanding player. Time was up and he had a kick to win the match - far out but pretty well in front. He struck it well. It soared high. It just struck the wrong side of the upright and the match ended in a draw,
That it ended in a draw was an exciting miracle all on its own. The Griffons had led throughout and with 10 minutes to play were leading 37-29. With 8 minutes to play, Ruan Potgieter scored a try. His last conversion had been from touch and he had got it over. This one was much, much easier and he missed it. 37-29.
With four minutes to go the Valke pushed their way to a tighthead at a scrum and strong Sampie Hearn bumped off oand handed off another and forced his way for a try. Again, inexplicably Potgieter missed the easy conversion. 37-34.
Back came the Valke. They had two penalties in kickable positions in quick succession, the second right in front. Each time they tapped and ran in search of victory. But the Griffons were penalised again and there was an injury break. This time Potgieter goaled. 37-37.
The Griffons kicked off, but the Valke got possession and started running from their own territory still, bless them, searching for victory. But they were penalised for sealing off at a tackle. And this was the kick that Shaun Reynold missed.
What a match! And in the end a draw was something of a relief.
The Griffons dominated the first half. They were better at scrums and line-outs than the Valke and much better and more aggressive at the breakdown. But the Valke scored first.
They kicked off, they won the ball. They passed it back to flyhalf Potgieter and 29 seconds after he had kicked off, he kicked a drop goal. 3-0.
Both sides kicked a lot but the Griffins settled to a phased attack. They went left and flyhalf Reynolds of Goudveld broke sharply for a try near the posts. 7-3 to the Griffons. A penalty soon after and the Griffons led 10-3 after 16 minutes. Not long afterwards the Griffons had a scrum towards the right of the field on the 10m line. Eighthman Gregan Hull picked up and raced with astonishing speed for the line. He was ankletapped, fell and got up again to surge over for the try. Astonishingly the score was 17-3 and the Griffons seemed to be grabbing all the treasure.
After a strong run by eighthman Morné Swart, the Valke had two penalties, both kickable. They turned the first one into a line-out and the second into a scrum in front of the Griffons posts and 10 metres from their line. The ball went 8-9 and then Holmes ran round the ball and powered his way over for a try in the right corner. Potgieter, who would later miss two much easier kicks, converted. 17-10 after 24 minutes.
Just when it seemed the Valke were on the comeback, Reynolds kicked a penalty, Wessel Hefer and Reynolds had attacking runs and the Griffons were penalised near touch. Reynolds, destined to miss the last kick, goaled. 23-10, which was the half-time score. The Valke were a different proposition in the second half - more cohesive and much more inclined to keep the ball in hand. They scored in the right corner after a full backline movement and a strong run by stocky Zander Cronjé who got an underarm pass to Cameron Rooi, who ducked under at high arm and fell over right in the corner. From right on touch Potgieter converted. 23-17
But the Griffons soon put the Valke back in their place with a freak of a try. The Griffons were penalised inside the Valke half. They tapped, Reynolds grubbered downfield and right wing Mlumzana Nkala chased. A long way down field a deceptive bounce of the ball favoured Nkala who, brilliantly, at full speed picked it off his toes to score a try. 30-17.
The Griffons pushed the Valke into a tighthead at a scrum but could not control the ball. Instead Holmes picked it up and raced down the left as scrumhalf Eloff Scheepers dived to tackle the big man. The TMO could not find evidence that Holmes had touched the touchline and so he was awarded a try, which Potgieter converted from right on the touchline. 30-24 with 15 minutes to play.
The Valke erred and kicked out on the full just outside their 22. From the line-out the Griffons went wide right and then through phases left and right till they had worked an overlap on the right and Hull sped down the touchline for his second try. Again, from way out, Reynolds converted. 37-29 with 10 minutes to go.
Then came those dramatic last minutes, full of terrible tension, that took the match to a draw.
Man of the Match: Shane Reynolds, whose general play and generalship plus an almost impeccable boot was the outstanding player on the field.
For the Falcons:
Tries: Holmes 2, Rooi, Potgieter, Hearn
Cons: Potgieter 3
For the Griffons:
Tries: Hull, Reynolds, Nkala, Hull
Cons: Reynolds 4
Pens: Reynolds 3
Falcons: 15 Jacqone de Villiers, 14 Cameron Rooi, 13 Sampie Hearn, 12 Xander Cronje, 11 Ryan Solomons, 10 Ruan Potgieter, 9 Marco Jansen Van Vuren, 8 Marco Holmes, 7 Morné Swart, 6 Pieter Jansen, 5 Estian Enslin, 4 Luthando Mlotshwa, 3 Donovan-Leroy Venter, 2 Marius Greyvensteyn, 1 Daniel Pitsi.
Replacements: 16 Arnout Malherbe, 17 Ben Brain Wepener, 18 Rholane Ngubuka, 19 Joswin de Wee, 20 Eldron van Rooyen, 21 Darren de Bruin, 22 Kobus Engelbrecht.
Griffons: 15 Sechaba Matsoele, 14 Mlumzana Nkala, 13 Wessel Hefer, 12 Johannes van der Watt, 11 Jamie Joseph, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Roelof Scheepers, 8 Gregan Hull, 7 Gerrit Otto, 6 Andre Jansen Van Vuuren, 5 Floris Pelser, 4 Arno de Blom, 3 Mpho Ramokhoase, 2 Cheslin van Rayner, 1 Ernest Sumner.
Replacements: 16 Samuel Brummer, 17 Shane Grobler, 18 Kyle Ess, 19 Francois Stemmet, 20 Damien May, 21 Rian Pretorius, 22 Jonathan April.