Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Hogs tighten grip on national rugby league

Gaborone Hogs fought the University of Botswana (UB) Rhinos off their lair in a fiercely contested Rugby national league match at the Wharic Park this past weekend.

The Hogs won the encounter by 18 points to 14 for UB Rhinos. The win sees the defending league champions tighten their grip at the summit of the league log, having now won all their 5 league matches, while at the same time ending the UB Rhinos’ unbeaten streak.

With both the clubs being on top of their game and having convincingly won all their league matches this season, the encounter was expected to be fiery and it never disappointed.

Played on the waterlogged Wharic Park, home to the Hogs, the encounter started off to a bruising start as both teams wanted to impose themselves on their opponents. Buoyed by home ground advantage, the Hogs asserted themselves early on the game, winning the scrum battles and restricting the ever dangerous UB Rhinos backline to their own territory. The Hogs imposed themselves well on the game forcing the Rhinos to concede four penalties, two of which Edward Oosthuizen converted to give Hogs a 6 ÔÇô 0 lead.

It was, however, the Rhinos who went to recess ahead after the ever present Jerome Malabu scored them a try, with the resultant conversion easily buried by Tshoganetso Katse. Despite showing flashes of brilliance from their hugely talented back line, the Rhinos failed to break the resolute Hogs as both teams ended the first half with Rhinos leading 7 ÔÇô 6.

From recess, Hogs were the better of the two as they pushed their opponents deep into their own territory forcing them to commit minor offences leading to scrimmages, which they used effectively to score two tries from the scrums, through Tyrone Warbuton and Stefan Van Zyl, with the resultant conversions easily dispatched to give the Hogs an 18 ÔÇô 6 lead. The unheralded Van Zyl was by far the best player on the day as he fought hard for every ball and took the Rhinos head on.

Lack of discipline, however, nearly robbed the Hogs of their win as two of their players were sent to the sin bin for illegal tackles with less than twenty minutes left on the clock.

First to go out was the influential JJ Harris who was cited for a late tackle on an opposing player. With Harris out for ten minutes, the Rhinos failed to impose their numerical advantage to score vital points. Not long after Harris was back in and with six minutes before the final whistle, this time Oosthuizen was sent to the sin bin. This time around, the Rhinos pushed hard and were rewarded in the very last minute when Munyaradzi Mhonda scored a try, with Conrad Ntsebe scoring the resultant conversion to narrow the score to 18 ÔÇô 14 in favour of the Hogs.

It was, however, too little too late as the referee blew the whistle immediately after the conversion to give the Hogs their fifth consecutive win and a stranglehold on the league leadership. In other results, UB White Rhinos suffered yet another defeat, this time a 17 ÔÇô 7 bruising at the hands of the resurgent Ghanzi Lions.

The men from Ghanzi look set to live to their billing as this season’s surprise package as they continue to string up good performances. In Francistown, Sharks inflicted a debilitating 67 ÔÇô 3 defeat on league strugglers Tuskers while in Mogoditshane, BDF Cheetahs narrowly edged Whales by 25 ÔÇô 24.

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