Royal Engineers RFC Tour to Durban, South Africa 2013
Royal Engineers v Durban Collegians, Friday 10 May 2013
The Royal Engineers kicked off their tour of South Africa with an excellent 54-14 opening win over the Durban Collegians under floodlights on a very wet Friday evening. The Natal Sharks stadium provided a great backdrop for the game although conditions were more reminiscent of back home as the rain hammered down for most of the match.
Tom Best got the game underway and the Sappers straight away set about making a statement in front of the locals with Jake Campey going over for the opening try inside the first two minutes. The Sappers collected a lineout on the far side of the pitch and then spread the ball out to the backs who found the space for Campey to use his speed to finish the move and go over for the try, which was converted by Tom Best, 7-0.
The two sides exchanged penalties before the home side closed the gap with their first and only try of the game, working the ball wide from a lineout for their centre to break through a tackle to cross for the score, 10-8.
The Sappers had settled into the game well and created good scoring chances and added two more penalties from the boot of Tom Best either side of a Collegians penalty to make the score 16-11.
As half time approached the visitors crossed the line again with Tour Skipper Mike Lawton crossing for the score. From a Collegians scrum 10 metres from the try line the Engineers put on a good drive and forced the scrum half into a poor pass along the floor which Lawton scooped up before diving over for an easy try to make the score 21-11 at half time.
The Sappers picked up where they left off at the start of the second half with substitute Wes Wessells making an immediate impact, brilliantly cutting through the defence for a great try under the posts, which was converted by Best to make the score 28-11.
The Collegians added another penalty before Mike Lawton crossed again for his second of the game picking up the ball from a ruck 10 metres out and selling a nice dummy to go over for the try, 35-14.
The tourists extended their lead when Matt Curgenven crossed the try line. Tom Best made good yardage breaking out of the Sapper 22’ before the ball was shipped to the winger to break through the line showing great pace to cross for the score, 42-14.
The Engineers extended their lead just minutes later, with substitute Ben Seru making a good impact to get the visitors into good field position. Wessells once again broke the line & offloaded to another substitute Dan Spellman who finished off a nice attack under the posts, 49-14.
As the game ticked down into its final minutes the Sappers added one more try with Al Whittaker diving over from the base of the dominant scrum for the score, which Best once again converted closing out an excellent opening game from the Engineers, taking the win 54-14 in difficult conditions.
Royal Engineers v College Rovers, Wednesday 15 May 2013
After a successful start to their South Africa Tour against the Durban Collegians, the Royal Engineers faced their second game, which would prove to be a much sterner test against a College Rovers side that had not lost a game in over five years. Head Coach Ben Hughes made several changes for the game, on an evening that was very humid making for tough conditions for both sides.
The Sappers got off to a good start probing away early inside the Rovers half. Winger Mark Adamson almost broke free down the far touchline but was brought down into touch a few metres from the try line.
The Rovers also had a few chances early on. They made good use of their speed in the backs to create some space on the outside, unfortunately for them though their handling let them down at crucial moments handing the ball back to their opponents.
The tone of the game was set early on with some thumping tackles going in from both sides. The Rovers had a big front row but the Sappers stood up to the test and gave as good as they got in the scrum. The defence was also excellent from the Sappers with the centre pairing of Gerhard Wessells and Lordi Waqa putting in a great shift over the 80 minutes, controlling the game well in both attack and defence.
The first points of the game came from the boot of Fly Half James Dixon. Following a nice box kick from a scrum the Sapper line came up quickly and forced the penalty from the Rovers scrum half, which Dixon slotted through nicely for an early 3-0 lead.
The Rovers came back and enjoyed some good spells inside the Sapper half making good use of their strength up front and their elusive backs. Again though a combination of bad discipline and poor handling gave the ball back to the Sappers.
It wasn’t long before the tourists were back deep inside the College Rovers 22. Following a kick to touch they worked the ball nicely across the pitch but unfortunately a knock on allowed the Rovers to clear their lines. The Engineers came straight back though with James Dixon breaking through the line from deep, winning a penalty after a Rovers player tackled him around the neck. The successful kick made the score 6-0.
The Sappers almost extended their lead soon after when Matt Curgenven broke free down the touchline following a quickly taken penalty. The defender got across to him though and did just enough to jar the ball loose and cause the knock on, leaving the score at half time 6-0 to the touring side.
As the second half got underway both sides were creating opportunities in a well fought contest, played at a high tempo despite the humidity. The Rovers were making the most of some generous penalties awarded to them to set up good field position however the Sapper defence kept working away and held off the home side.
The Sappers looked the more likely to get the games first try and Ben Seru almost scored it following a turnover. Matt Curgenven put in a nice chip ahead for Seru to chase ready to pounce on the ball in the end zone however the Rovers full back got his boot to the ball just in time to clear. The threat was not over yet though and following the scrum on the five metre line Sapper Number 8 Al Whittaker picked up and after initially going left cut back to find the open space and dive over for a well deserved try to the Sappers 11-0.
The Rovers came back almost immediately and soon found themselves just a few metres from their opponents try line. Following a string of penalties they eventually crossed over to close the gap to 11-5.
The Sappers could have extended their lead in the final few minutes with both centres Waqa & Wessells creating opportunities. In the end though the game finished 11-5 to the visitors who, despite the tough opposition, played excellent and were deserved winners.
The Rovers put up an excellent challenge for the tourists and showed throughout the 80 minutes why they haven’t lost a game in over five years, playing bruising, physical rugby upfront at a high tempo and using their explosiveness in the backs to play some great rugby.
The Sappers have just one day to recover before playing their final game against the Hillcrest Villagers on Friday.
Royal Engineers v Durban Met, Friday 17 May 2013
The final game of the Royal Engineers tour to South Africa was against the Durban Met and took place just two days after their tough encounter with the College Rovers.
It wasn’t to be such a tightly contested affair this time around however, as the Sappers would finish off their campaign with an easy win which would unfortunately be cut short due to an injury to a Mets’ player.
Head coach Ben Hughes made a few changes to the squad although was somewhat limited due to an illness which had taken its toll on some players throughout the team. Fraiser Deeming would Captain the side in his last outing for the Engineers on a very wet Friday evening in Durban.
It wasn’t long before the Sappers opened the scoring and it was Deeming who led by example. A great run by Ben Seru opened up the defence and after sprinting by several defenders he offloaded to Deeming who finished off the job to cross over for the Try.
Seru then got his name on the score sheet shortly after. Following a lineout just inside the Met 22 the pack drove forward and then let the backs go to work out wide. The ball made it to James Dixon out wide who then released Seru down the touchline and after breaking through the tackle he ran in for an easy score to extend the Engineer lead. 12-0.
Lordi Waqa added a third try following a nice move, running a great line to break through the defence. He then skipped through two tackles on his way to score underneath the posts to bring the score to 19-0 to the tourists.
The Sappers had all the momentum with them and despite the tricky conditions continued to add to their lead. Scrum half Andrew Gill added another try after a nice run by Deeming from full back helped set up the score. From a ruck close to the touchline Gill snuck down the wing and went in untouched for the Try making the score 26-0 at half time.
Early in the second half Waqa doubled his try tally, breaking through the defensive line after a scum five metres out. He was tackled just shy of the line but reached out to place the ball on the whitewash and add another score. 33-0.
Soon after it was winger Ben Seru getting his second of the game, following good play in the backs Fly Half James Dixon drew in the defence and offloaded to Seru outside for him to run in for the score. 40-0.
The visitors added one more score before the end with Rob Taylor touching down under the posts. Scrum half Gill broke through from the base of a ruck and Taylor was on hand to receive the offload and palm off the last defender to increase the lead to 47-0 following the conversion.
Unfortunately an injury to a Durban Met player brought the game to an early close but the Sappers had completed a successful sweep remaining undefeated in South Africa, now turning their attention from rugby to a Safari and Battlefield tour over the next few days before their return to the UK.
Our excellent Tour was set up by ex-Royal Engineer Eugene Viljoen - owner of Sport N' Safari, if you're looking to Tour South Africa be sure to get in touch!