The Thriller at Helpmekaar
Helpmekaar and Transvalia played an agonisingly thrilling semifinal on Helpmekaar Kollege’s ground in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Tiaan Botes will be the stuff of legend just five minutes after the final whistle.
We could start at the end.
It was a Virsekerbeker semifinal, the winner to play Monument in the final.
With 18 minutes to play, Transvalia took the lead at 33-27. Two desperate teams played out those 18 horrific minutes. For most of them, Helpmekaar were on the attack with line-outs, mauls penalties and tap-‘n-charge. For those 18 minutes, Transvalia defended like Trojans. The temperature of the crowd became increasingly audible and more anxious.
Somehow Transvalia survived a long, long siege, and then they kicked downfield. Zach Boonzaaier, Helpmekaar’s fullback, caught the ball and started running. And with a minute to play, Helpmekaar were back battering at the line, This time substitute prop, André Stroiz picked up and plunged. It was a try. That made the score 33-32 to Transvalia with a conversion to come.
Botes lined up what kick with care, stepped back in the tense hush of the ground, and came forward. He kicked and the ball flew true between the uprights. 34-33.
The final whistle went.
There is no thrill greater than such a victory, and no defeat as cruelly painful.
Helpmekaar will play Monument at the LC de Villiers Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday, 18 August 2018.
Transvalia had the stronger scrum, Helpmekaar the better line-out, and both sides wanted to run with the ball.
Initially, it seemed that Helpmekaar was taking the game out of Transvalia’s reach.
Helpmekaar started on the attack. They battered at the Transvalia line till tighthead Jean Engelbrecht plunged a short metre to score.
They were soon back on the attack but a penalty to Transvalia close to their own line, relieved matters – or so it seemed, for Zander du Toit of Helpmekaar stole the Transvalia line-out and they were back battering at the Transvalia line till Alec Skudder scored. 10-0.
But Transvalia came back with a try two minutes later. They attack ked on the left and then went wide right where tall fullback Zeilinga Strydom scored. 10-5.
Four minutes later it was Helpmekaar’s turn. A penalty gave them an attacking line-out but the throw went over the back of the line-out where it bounced back to the Helpmekaar flyhalf Tiaan Botes. He immediately gave to outside centre Francois Janse van Vuuren who slashed through for a try under the posts. 17-5 after 22 minutes.
Helpmekaar knocked on the kick-off and Transvalia had a scrum on the Helpmekaar 22. They went right and chipped. Zeilinga Strydom was leading the race for the bouncing ball when he was tackled from behind. The referee awarded a penalty try. 17-12 after 24 minutes.
Transvalia were penalised at a tackle and Botes goaled. 20-12 which was the half-time score.
Transvalia kicked off to start the second half and got the ball back. They were taken into touch, and Helpmekaar had the throw-in to the line-out, but the throw was not straight took the scrum, Helpmekaar were freekicked, and Transvalia tapped and went right to strong centre Uli Wiese who scored, stretching out as he was tackled. This made the score an exciting 20-19 two minutes into the second half.
A Transvalia up-and-under bounced, that bounce set Transvalia attacking. Wiese chipped into the in-goal and he and athletic lock Michael Amiras dived at the ball as it was reaching the dead-ball line. After thoughtful consultation, the referee awarded a try though it seems probable that Amiras grounded the ball first. Transvalia led 26-20 after just five minutes of the second half.
Helpmekaar soon got the lead back when Botes broke and an overlap gave Christiaan Bezuidenhout his 18th try of the season, Botes converted from touch and Helpmekaar led 27-16.
Both sides were now playing with desperate energy.
Transvalia got back on the urgent attack. In quick succession, they had a five-metre line-out, a five-metre penalty which they tapped, and two five-metre scrums. From the second scrum, they went right and scrumhalf Dewald Strydom passed straight to centre Franco Wagner who ran straight through for a try under the posts. 33-27 with 18 minutes to play.
For most of that time, Helpmekaar attacked and for 17 of the 128 minutes, Transvalia defended heroically against penalty, line-out, maul and scrum five metres from the line. The eventual try by André Stroiz, substituting for injured Quintusz Geyser, came as a surprise as there seemed no way through.
It was indeed a thrilling match.
Tries: Jean Engelbrecht, Alec Skudder, Francois Janse van Vuuren, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, André Stroiz
Cons: Tiaan Botes 3
Pen: Tiaan Botes
Tries: Zeilinga Strydom, Penalty Try, Uli Wiese 2, Franco Wagner
Cons: Zian de Jager 3 + plus the two points at a penalty try
Helpmekaar: 15 Zach Boonzaaier, 14 Franco Scholtz, 13 Francois Janse van Vuuren, 12 Divan Oosthuizen, 11 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, 10 Tiaan Botes, 9 Marco van Staden, 8 Zander du Toit, 7 Eugene Maritz, 6 Alec Skudder, 5 Michael Amiras, 4 Brink Marx, 3 Jean Engelbrecht, 2 Rickardo van der Merwe, 1 Quintusz Geyser
Replacements: 16 Dean Potgieter, 17 André Stroiz, 18 Nicholaas Jordan, 19 Ruan Nortjé, 20 Jean Slabbert, 21 Francois Breytenbach, 22 Adriaan du Toit, 23 Wouter Louw
Transvalia: 15 Zeilinga Strydom, 14 Damian Jordan, 13 Uli Wiese, 12 Franco Wagner, 11 Dian de Villiers, 10 Zian de Jager, 9 Dewald Strydom (captain), 8 Christiaan Burger, 7 Thabang Molase, 6 Pieter Storm, 5 Marno Swanepoel, 4 Tiaan Visser, 3 Divan Meyer, 2 Reinhardt Nel, 1 Roelof du Plessis
Replacements: 16 Omri Erasmus, 17 Louwtjie Janse van Rensburg, 18 Colby Lundie, 19 Cameron Brits, 20 Nicky Nicolenas, 21 Lee-Andrew du Preez, 22 Driaan van der Berg, 23 Lennin van Aarde
Referee: Eduan Nel (Golden Lions Referees’ Society)
Assistant referees: Sandile Dlamini (Golden Lions Referees’ Society), Sello Selepe (Golden Lions Referees’ Society)
Photo credit: @HelpmekaarKollege & Speedshots