Good preparation pays off for Collegians

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

Collegians RFC’s thorough pre-season preparations seem to be bearing fruit as they had a solid start to the 2016 Western Province Rugby Football Association (WPRFU) Super League B season.

The Lentegeur oufit is unbeaten in four league matches after winning their first two matches of the season.

The side went on two record two draws, 24-24 with Kraaifontein at the weekend and 26-26 against Strand a week earlier.

Their victories came against Hamlets and Goodwood, whom they beat 31-29 and 49-18 respectively. Their early season form saw them sitting firmly in the top five of the log, with four rounds of matches being played.

Collegians left no stone unturned in their preparations for the season as they played four pre-season matches, winning all of them.

The side ended their successful pre-season preparations in style, and sent a clear message to other teams in their division, by beating a gutsy Surrey Estate Rangers side 27-17 in Lentegeur, in their last warm up match ahead of the new season.

The supporters were, without a doubt, expecting another good showing from their players as the team has been impressive in the build-up to the start of the 2016 season.

That’s exactly what they got, as Collegians, playing with purpose and discipline, produced a good showing to record their fourth successive pre-season victory, having beaten Strand, Khayelitsha’s Blue Jet and Elsies River before theRangers match.

That match provided both coaches with one last opportunity to try new combinations and tighten loose ends in their squads ahead of the new season.

And, just like most matches between the two sides, it proved to be a tight affair.

Cheered on by their vocal supporters, the homeside used their street-smartness to find “short cuts” through the Surrey Estate side’s territory and exploited any opening they could find in their opponents’ defence.

They also looked dangerous in scrum situations as they threatened each time they won possession from a scrum.

The home side was able to dominate the breakdown and defended well and, as a result, Rangers’ defence eventually succumbed to the pressure. Collegians went on to score four tries to their opponents’ two, to claim a hard-fought victory.

Coach Armien Ariefdien was understandably happy with the way things went for his side ahead of the season. He said the hard work they’ve put in at training was starting to pay off.

“We’ve been convincing in our approach throughout the pre-season but the match against Rangers proved to be a serious test. It was tough out there and things were tight, especially in the first half, but our players came back strongly in the second half and scored important points,” he said.

With the pre-season friendly matches finally a thing of the past, Collegians now have their eyes firmly on the season ahead. And, Ariefdien said at the end of their pre-sesaon preparations that it was important to collect maximum points as early in the season as possible. This, he said, would enable them to play under less pressure in the later stages of the season. He also made it clear that they have a plan and the players have shown good understanding of that plan.

“We are obviously going to stick to our own approach and try dictating the pace of the game. We have also identified our weaknesses and will try to minimise our mistakes on the field,” he said.

Ariefdien said their plan was to finish in the top five come end of the season. This, he said, was possible especially considering the material they have, in terms of the playing personnel and the form the team have shown in the built up to the new season.

“We have brought in a number of new recruits too and they have settled in well. So, everyone is fit, focused and ready for the new season,” said Ariefdien.