Kearsney vs Michaelhouse results, report, YT highlights, 8 June

11 June 2024

Kearsney‘s 1st XV continued a remarkable turnaround on Saturday when they upended Michaelhouse on Stott Field, on the school’s Founders Day. After the teams had turned level at 7-7, the One-Stripe triumphed 19-15.

After starting their season with three successive victories, including an upset of Maritzburg College, Kearsney’s fortunes had plummeted, although, in their defence, they had played a tough schedule. They kept grinding, however, and had no difficulties scoring. The defence, though, conceded more points than one expects from the boys in maroon.

A meeting with Glenwood, another team which had been enduring a tough season, was an opportunity to get back on the winning track. But coach Neil van Heerden‘s charges had to do it the hard way, on Dixon’s, in Durban. They produced a bright performance, attacking the opportunity, to claim a 25-22 victory.

Buoyed by that showing, they expressed themselves the following week against Clifton, winning 48-0 at the Riverside Sports Club.

Then, against ‘House, on Saturday – one could see it from the way the One-Stripe charged onto the field – they were up for the fight and then some. From the first whistle to the last, they challenged the visitors for every ball, upsetting their rhythm and denying their game flow and momentum.

“During the week, we actually said that Old Boys’ Weekend always gives Kearsney a superpower, something extra, and I think we saw that today,” Van Heerden said.

“If you’re going to beat a team like ‘House, a phenomenal team, you’ve got to make them uncomfortable and you’ve got to get them out of their system.”

The visitors, though, were first onto the scoreboard within the first five minutes of the contest from a counterattack launched by fullback Aya Mkokheli. He was involved in the movement later and when brought to ground popped up a pass to Riley Gehren, who took the ball off the no. 15’s inside shoulder and sprinted through to score. With Luke Davidson adding the extras, Michaelhouse led 7-0.

Kearsney levelled with a crucial play from right-wing Valentino Lenge, who could well have been worth 14 points, if he hadn’t pulled it off.

With Carlyle Hawkins and company on the attack, and with a three-man overlap out wide to the left, Davidson attempted to outflank the Kearsney defence with a long skip pass. Lenge, though, read it perfectly, broke early onto the ball and snared an interception. There was no catching the fleet-footed wing, even though he had almost three-quarters of the field to cover and he was over for five. Cameron Veenstra converted to make it 7-7.

Early in the second half, the hosts struck from a simple but well executed play off a lineout five metres from the ‘House try line. A clean take and then a flat ball to Doan Nel, who was flying in at speed, on an angle, created a chance for the centre. He stepped off his left foot and was over the whitewash for a try. Another Veenstra conversion made it 14-7.

Nel’s try was an example of what separated the teams on Saturday. Given a chance to make something of a foray deep into Michaelhouse territory, Kearsney took it. ‘House had at least three rolling mauls, which they drove to within five metres of the One-Stripe’s tryline stopped and which resulted in the home team getting the put-inFrom there, they eased the pressure with touch-finders.

Kearsney's tigerish defence of the rucks and mauls played a crucial role in winning them the game. (Photo: Brad Morgan)
Kearsney’s tigerish defence of the rucks and mauls played a crucial role in winning them the game. (Photo: Brad Morgan)

Michaelhouse was the next to score, however, and it came from a period of sustained pressure. The visitors, inside the Kearsney 22, probed the flanks, stretching the defence from one side to the other, which then created space on the left and big Aphiwe Shelembe charged over and made the dive for five.

Another critical moment in the match followed when Davidson lined up the conversion. Then, Kearsney’s players charged off the try line and one of them snatched up the ball off the kicking tee. The referee ruled that Davidson had begun his approach to the ball, so the easy conversion kick never happened, and the home team led 14-12.

From the kick-off, they struck Michaelhouse with a hammer blow. Anele Cele and company turned over possession, hit the ball up once, and then sent it back to flyhalf Roydan Madatt. Out on the right flank, two players had their hands up. Madatt saw them.

He knocked a cross-field kick in their direction. It was a touch too heavy, but fullback Daniel Eager leapt high, snaked out his right arm and took a spectacular one-handed catch, preventing the ball from going out on the full. Then, he was over in the corner with a dive befitting the play to extend Kearsney’s lead.

This time, Cameron Veenstra couldn’t make the tough conversion kick, but the One-Stripe was 19-12 up.

With 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Michaelhouse received a penalty kick right in front of the Kearsney uprights, inside the home side’s 22. They opted for a kick at goal and Davidson made it.

The visitors pressed hard for a come-from-behind win. But the hosts had the bit between their teeth and one last time they halted the ‘House train only metres from their own try line.

When Kearsney won a penalty at scrum time, all that remained was putting a kick into touch and they had claimed a gritty four-point victory.

Reflecting on his charges’ turnaround, coach Neil van Heerden commented: “I think we probably lost our identity somewhere along the line, and we tried to play outside of our strengths.

“We’ve always been a team that makes things difficult for other teams, takes them to the gutter, so to speak, and we upset their natural rhythm. We tried to play rugby that probably wasn’t suited to our style.

“The last three games we’ve reverted back to what’s always worked for us and it’s paid dividends.”

While Kearsney evened the season’s 1st XV series at 1-1, Michaelhouse reigned supreme in the remainder of the open age group matches.

They also dominated the u16 games, but the pendulum swung Kearsney’s way at u15 level, and they edged the u14 results, too.

Michaelhouse picked up 13 wins in total and Kearsney won six.


1st: Kearsney 19-15 Michaelhouse
2nd: Kearsney 15-28 Michaelhouse
3rd: Kearsney 24-43 Michaelhouse
4th: Kearsney 7-17 Michaelhouse
5th: Kearsney 6-12 Michaelhouse
6th: Kearsney 15-22 Michaelhouse
7th: Kearsney 5-36 Michaelhouse
8th: Kearsney 17-32 Michaelhouse

16A: Kearsney 13-23 Michaelhouse
16B: Kearsney 14-83 Michaelhouse
16C: Kearsney 0-48 Michaelhouse
16D: Kearsney 0-57 Michaelhouse

15A: Kearsney 21-17 Michaelhouse
15B: Kearsney 40-29 Michaelhouse
15C: Kearsney 19-17 Michaelhouse
15D: Kearsney 14-34 Michaelhouse

14A: Kearsney 29-14 Michaelhouse
14B: Kearsney 7-35 Michaelhouse
14C: Kearsney 31-12 Michaelhouse


On the Mason Astro, the Kearsney and Michaelhouse 1st XIs played to a goalless draw. While there were no goals, it was an entertaining game, with both team creating opportunities, but not finishing.

The open results favoured the hosts, while it was all square at u16 level, where ‘House took the A side honours. It was all square in the u14 age group, too, but Kearsney were the winners of the A team’s match.

Both teams delivered strong defensive performances to keep the team in possession under pressure and goals off the scoreboard. (Photo: Brad Morgan)
Both teams delivered strong defensive performances to keep the team in possession under pressure and goals off the scoreboard. (Photo: Brad Morgan)


1st: Kearsney 0-0 Michaelhouse
2nd: Kearsney 2-1 Michaelhouse
3rd: Kearsney 1-1 Michaelhouse
4th: Kearsney 2-1 Michaelhouse

16A: Kearsney 1-2 Michaelhouse
16B: Kearsney 0-1 Michaelhouse
16C: Kearsney 1-0 Michaelhouse
16D: Kearsney 7-1 Michaelhouse
16E: Kearsney 1-1 Michaelhouse

14A: Kearsney 3-1 Michaelhouse
14B: Kearsney 0-1 Michaelhouse
14C: Kearsney 0-0 Michaelhouse

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