Inside centre Sibahle Khulani scored a brace as Selborne came from behind to beat fierce rivals Dale 33-25 in East London on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Dale, who won the first match between the sides earlier in the year, dominated the early stages of this encounter, but were unable to sustain that effort throughout the 70 minutes.
A couple of Dale’s players were passengers on the day, but Aphelele Fassi was superb. The star inside centre – who is a natural flyhalf – left his mark on this contest despite being on the losing side.
For Selborne, it was a slow start, but they gradually grew into the contest before producing a supreme second-half performance to win the game. Fullback Jason Raubenheimer’s accurate goal-kicking kept the scoreboard ticking over for the hosts, while captain David Coetzer led from the front with a try and a drop goal.
Raubenheimer opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty, but Dale enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and scored two tries – through flank Thando Gqokvo and wing Chumani Lucas – for a 12-3 lead.
As the half edged to a close, the hosts started to revert pressure back on Dale. After the kickers traded penalties, Selborne upped the ante and they were rewarded when Coetzer spun out of two tackles to score, before teammate Afika Ndidisa rounded off a second try to give the home team a 16-15 lead at the interval.
Dale’s defence was breached far too easily soon after the restart when excellent interplay between Selborne’s backs and forwards resulted in Khalani’s first try. Fassi narrowed the gap with a penalty, but moments later Khulani extended Selborne’s advantage with his second touchdown.
With the crowd chanting the Selborne players’ names and most of the 50/50 calls going against them, the Dale players’ heads started to hang. But then Fassi produced a moment of magic. He received the ball inside his half, took a moment to size up his options and decided to run through the heart of the Selborne defence. With no support from his teammates, Fassi beat seven defenders to score a spectacular self-converted try under the posts.
But with a five-point difference and Dale playing with renewed hope, Coetzer took it upon himself to seal the victory for Selborne with a long-range drop goal.
Selborne – Tries: David Coetzer, Afrika Ndidisa, Sibahle Khulani (2). Conversions: Jason Raubenheimer (2). Penalties: Raubenheimer (2). Drop goal: Coetzer.
Dale – Tries: Thando Gqokvo, Chumani Lucas, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Fassi (2). Penalties: Fassi (2).
Photo: Old Selbornian Association