SACS erased a 19-0 half-time deficit to upset Paarl Gymnasium 22-19 in Newlands on Saturday.
The last time SACS beat Paarl Gym was in 1996 when current 1st XV coach Nick Maurer was a player.
On Saturday, Maurer rallied his charges to break that drought with a second-half performance for the ages. Trailing by 19 after Gym had scored three first-half tries, SACS responded with four unanswered tries to clinch an unlikely win.
Paarl Gym played with limited ball possession, but ruthlessly pounced on SACS’ errors. Outside centre Dawin Kellerman scored two opportunistic tries for the visitors. Kellerman charged down a clearance kick and sprinted away for the opening score of the game. He then scooped up a loose pass in the SACS backline for an easy run-in to double Gym’s lead to 14-0. Flyhalf Ruben Scholtz slotted the conversions.
The third and final Gym try came on the back of a comedy of errors by SACS inside their own 22. With possession in the danger zone, SACS failed to clear their lines, opting instead to try and run the ball out. They went wide to the right, where the winger tried to hack the ball away. He was charged down, but SACS recovered possession, only for the ball to be ripped away in the tackle by Gimmies No 8 Henco Maartens to score.
Given the history of this fixture and the manner in which the first half played out, it didn’t look good for SACS. But the hosts came up with a second-half performance that would have taken the most loyal SACS fans by surprise.
SACS’ forwards bulldozed Paarl Gym up front, providing the perfect platform for the comeback.
Flank Craig Bylin, prop Ethan Burger and replacement lock Storm Balchin bashed their way over the tryline from close quarters for three unconverted tries to get their team within four on the scoreboard.
No 8 Oliver Schuurmans – who played centre at U16 level – then picked up a loose pass in midfield and scuttled all the way to the line for the try that put SACS in the lead for the first time in the game. After missing the three previous conversion attempts, Jordy Hop was on target with the fourth to extend SACS’ lead to three.
Gym tried their best to break through for a try late in the game, but SACS held firm in defence for a win that sent the crowd into delirium.
SACS – Tries: Craig Bylin, Ethan Burger, Storm Balchin, Oliver Schuurmans. Conversion: Jordy Hop.
Paarl Gym – Tries: Dawin Kellerman (2), Henco Maartens. Conversions: Ruben Scholtz (2).