The thrilling ending in Stellenbosch
REPORT: The ending to the evenly balanced match between Paul Roos and Paarl Gim, the two top-ranked sides in the country, was agonising.
No matter what side you backed, it was agonising. The more vigorous your support was, the greater the agony.
With 12 minutes to play, Gim led 12-7.
With 11 minutes to play, Paul Roos led 14-12.
With 7 minutes to play, Gim led 14-14.
With 6 minutes to play, Paul Roos led 19-15.
After two and half minutes of injury time, Gim won the match 20-19.
That is the simple timeline. It does not tell of the intensity, the steeply rising emotion and then the final whistle with a frenzy of hugging on one side and a descent into cold disappointment on the other.
It is a match to be remembered for its ending as hope and despair rose and fell with the score, and yet it is a match that deserved to be remembered for the skill and determination of both teams.
Paarl Gim had by far the biggest share of the first half, and yet they trailed at the break. They had the lion's share of possession and territory. The penalty count was in their favour (8-2), they had more line-out possession (9-3) and more scrum possession (6-4). That Paul Roos led at half-time, even if by only two points, is testimony to their resilience.
Gim had the first chance to score. Two penalties in quick succession gave them a five-metre line-out but Paul Roos won a turnover and survived.
They attacked again but were penalised at the Paul Roos line.
But then Paul Roos had the first telling break. Gim knocked on and the Paul Roos captain Rufus Dercksen grabbed the ball and burst away but Gim recovered.
Then came the try. Paul Roos counter-attacked from deep in their own territory. Fullback Colia Louis ran the ball back from his right diagonally to the left where he gave to lanky flyhalf Juan Mostert who straightened on a strong run. Near the Gim 22, he gave inside to his scrumhalf Gerado Jaars who raced away to score under the posts. Louis converted. Paul Roos led 7-0 after 21 minutes.
Four minutes later, a penalty gave Gim their second five-metre line-out of the half. Eighthman Henco Martens peeled around the front and gave to burly hooker Chris Rossouw who scored in the right corner. 7-5.
Chris Rossouw is the son of the 1990s Springbok hooker of the same name. In the Paul Roos side the centre Brendan Venter is the son of the 1990s Springbok centre of the same name. Both sons scored tries in this match.
Gim were soon back on the attack as ever-threatening Muller du Plessis broke and Gim advanced through phases to the Paul Roos line. They went wide from a five-metre line-out and seemed to be about to score when they were penalised for obstruction.
Just before half-time Paul Roos attacked but were beaten by the defence and the touchline and Gim flank AF Wedgwood had a strong run.
Half-time came and the score was still 7-5 in the favour of Paul Roos.
In the second held Paul Roos had a greater share of possession and territory.
In the second half the Gim flank Corné Uys had a strong run and then Jaars tapped a penalty and Paul Roos were close. Gim had an attacking line-out but their maul was collapsed and Paul Roos had a man in the sin-bin for 10 minutes.
Gim had an attacking line-out. They mauled and drove the maul at the line where huge Adriaan Ludick, who had a great impact on the game, dropped down for the try which Ruben Scholtz converted. Now Gim led 12-7 after 53 minutes.
Paul Roos advanced in phases and Regan van der Westhuizen was close. Then Johan Bouwer was over but held up. That gave them a five-metre scrum, slightly to the right of the posts. Jaar gave to Mostert who held the ball and the gave a tiny pass to Venter who came in at speed on a diagonal run to burst through and score under the posts. Louis converted. 14-12 to Paul Roos with 11 minutes to play.
From a scrum on the right 20 metres inside his own half, right wing Francois Marais broke clean through the Paul Roos defence and raced downfield where Dercksen tackled him. From the ruck that ensued, Paul Roos were penalised for being offside. The penalty was in front of the posts and Scholtz goaled. Gim led 15-14 with 7 tense minutes to play.
Paul Roos kicked off. It was a great kick to the left. The ball bobbled on Gim hands as Paul Roos put pressure on them. The ball bobbled slightly infield and tall Ryno Niemand grabbed it and sprinted down the touchline for a try in the left corner. Paul Roos led 19-15 with 6 minutes to play.
Imagine the tension.
Time was up on the clock when Paul Roos were penalised. Gim kicked out, won the line-out and mauled.
Paul Roos were penalised for collapsing the maul.
Gim kicked out for a five-metre line-out. They mauled and, on 72 minutes 34 seconds, Rossouw scored the try that won the match.
For Paul Roos:
Tries: Gerado Jaar, Brendan Venter, Ryno Niemand
Cons: Colia Louis 2
For Paarl Gim:
Tries: Chris Rossouw 2, Adriaan Ludick
Con: Ruben Scholtz
Pen: Ruben Scholtz
Paul Roos: 15 Colia Louis, 14 Regan van der Westhuizen, 13 Brendan Venter, 12 Rufus Dercksen (captain), 11 Rémy Engelbrecht, 10 Juan Mostert, 9 Gerado Jaars, 8 Matthew Cordy, 7 Philip van Dyk, 6 Johan Bouwer, 5 Breyten Maritz, 4 Mink Scharink, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Willem van den Hever, 1 Cameron Dawson
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Tristan Leitch, 18 Alexander Mbete, 19 Ryno Niemand, 20 Lombard Basson, 21 Antonie Kock, 22 WJ Smit, 23 Johnny Solms
Paarl Gim: 15 Muller du Plessis, 14 Francois Marais, 13 Dawid Kellerman, 12 Ruben Scholtz, 11 Hanco Hanekom, 10 Daniël Beukes, 9 Hanro Geldenhuys, 8 Henco Martins, 7 AJ Wedgwood, 6 Corné Uys, 5 Ryno Beukes, 4 Adriaan Ludick, 3 Francois Staples, 2 Chris Rossouw, 1 Hugo Pienaar
Replacements: 16 Daniël Wessels, 17 Adriaan Staples, 18 Dedrich Glas, 19 Juan Beukes, 20 Dean Nieuwoudt, 21 Jean Janse van Rensburg, 22 Janke du Toit, 23 Stravino Jacobs
Coaches: Pieter Rossouw, Helmut Lehmann
Referee: Pierre Rogers (Western Province Referees' Society)
Assistant referees: Jean de Wet (Western Province Referees' Society), Clearance Khumalo (Western Province Referees' Society)