Canada Wolverines 22 – 36 South Africa Rhinos
The Rhino Moniker is one that is meant to bring awe, respect and fear from opposition. The rhino is a large and powerful animal that stands its ground and defends itself when under threat. These are all qualities that were shown by the South African Rugby League team today in Markham, Toronto.
The South Africans flew 18,000 km to partake in the World Cup Qualifiers and had a warm up match with the Canadian Wolverines. News of Rugby league in South Africa can be very rare indeed and in reality no one knew what to expect from them. Would they be fast? Would the be big? I saw the Rhinos play in 2008 in England when they had a 3 match tour. It was a team that seemed underdone and not really prepares. Not so in 2011. With new management in the South African Rugby League, the players have been together and playing for over 8 months now. All the qualities that their moniker possesses, it also instilled into the team.
The game started out in physical fashion. The Rhinos showed they had the strength and power up front to really trouble the Canadians. As Wolverines Captain Jamie Lester said after the game ‘We came in with a game plan, and it completely changed within the first few minutes!’ It took only 4 minutes for the Rhinos to run in their first try through their full back Christof Swanepoel. With the conversion they were ahead 6-0. Canada were able to strike back very soon through a try to Geoff Bylund. It took another 10 minutes for the Canadians to be able to find a break in the South African lines through their full back, Robin Legault who made a daring run to score in the corner. The conversion put them ahead 10-6.
At the half hour mark it was the south africans going in again through their Man of the Match Stevie Meyer, who actually scores the next two tries with only one of them being converted by Francios Greyvensteyn. When the whistle blew at for half time it was a surprising 16-10 lead to the Rhinos.
Canada needed to score first in the second half to get back some initiative, but inspired South African defence held them out even when they had like 3 penalties and sets of six only 5 meters out from the their try line. With a simple mistake where the ball was spilled the Rhinos were back on the initiative and were able to gain some easy meters down the field. The Rhinos have some great speed down the sides and Hans du Pleissie was able to get to the try line and get the first points of the half and take them to a 20-10 lead. Canada immediately struck back through Enoch Wamalwa to bring it back 16-20.
Passions and tempers flares and a good biff in the 64th minute erupted. It was an amazing site, after the Ref had a chat to the players and teams, the players involved shook hands let things go and got on with the game. The two teams then traded two tries blow for blow after that, with Rupert Wells going in for the Rhinos and then Legault in once again for the Wolverines. The last 10 minutes though saw the Rhinos start to over power their hosts. They had more to prove and lose and so were not going to let things stay where they were. Two more tries to Johan Fritz and then Christo Louw on full time saw them run out emphatic first time winners over the Wolverines 36-22.
The Rhinos Coach, Steven van Zyl though said “We still have a lot of improvement” and when talking to the Tour manager for the Rhinos Chris Botes he was impressed with what the Canadians have managed to achieve in only a couple years and it was a shame they weren’t in the qualifiers as well.
It was a hot day in Toronto and everyone was feeling with yours truly getting another set of ‘Racoon Eyes’. In the end there were no injuries suffered by any of the teams and it will be a full strength Rhinos that will be in Philadelphia for the World Cup Qualifiers.
Canada 22 – Tries: Geoff Bylund, Robin Legault (2), Enoch Wamalwa Conv.: Kale Hutchings (3)
South Africa 36 – Tries: Christof Swanepoel, Stevie Meyer (2), Hans du Plessis, Rupers Wells, Johan Fritz, Christo Louw, Conv.: Francois Greyvensteyn (3) Peter van der Nest (1)
Penalties: Canada 10 – 3 South Africa
Scrums: Canada 6 – 8 South Africa
Man of Match: Stevie Meyer
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