Tel Aviv Heat kick off their historic tour to South Africa with two scintillating encounters against Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club in Pretoria on Saturday, 19 March.
Both results not going the way of the visiting Israeli side and ultimately it took an 80th minute converted try by Northam Rhino’s to snatch the victory, 17-15, away from the Tel Aviv Heat ‘Blues’, captained by Renaldo Bothma.
Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club claim a two-point, 17-15, victory over Tel Aviv Heat at the Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club stadium (halftime: 5-12)
The Heat dominated most of the match, in both halves, but it was the patience of the Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club that paid off in the end, when replacement hooker Khwezi Mfaku collected the ball at the back of a rolling maul, in the last play of the match, crashing over, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Promising and positive attacking play by the visitors in the opening five minutes through quick service from scrumhalf Bradley Thain enabled the Heat to take play deep into Northam Rhino territory, along with excellent ball carrying prowess from hooker Obert Norje.
Former Bulls winger Sebastian Jobb got the first score of the game, Marc Morrison added the extras to give the Tel Aviv Heat a 0-7 lead in the opening 10 minutes. Jobb was involved at least three times in the build up to his own try, running with confidence from deep inside his own half.
The relentless attacking phases of the Heat resulted in the match being played inside the Rhinos half for the greater part of the opening half. Namibia international Lesley Klim rounded off a great move which saw Jobb once again having a hand in a few phases in the build up to the Heat's second try, Morrison unsuccessful with the conversion attempt, 0-12.
The match went back and forth as both sides struggled to round off their attacking phases with points on the scoreboard. Despite enjoying most of the possession and territory towards the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Heat could not capitalise on any of their possession. Heat captain and former Bulls forward Renaldo Bothma lead his side with much gusto and was well supported by Varsity Cup veteran Justin Theys, hooker Norje, and lock pairing of Graham Knoop and Tyler Brown.
It was virtually on the stroke of halftime that the home side got their opening score when Sphesihle Wors Sosubo crashed over from a rolling maul, flyhalf Clayton Isaacs missed the conversion from the touchline. Both sides headed into the break with the Heat in the lead, 5-12.
In similar fashion to the earlier game, both sides came out firing in the second half, but it was much of back-and-forth than anything else. It was however the Heat who found better rhythm as they saw more of the ball and the likes of Klim en Jobb found gaps in the Rhinos' defense with ease. Either the final pass just not going to hand or the home side effecting a turnover neutralising the clinical attacking prowess of the Heat.
It was the home side who got the first points in the second half, almost 20 minutes in, JP Cronje crashing over after the Heat were reduced to 14 men. Much to the credit of the visitors, they kept the Rhinos out, by defending virtually on their own try line for almost eight minutes. Cronje's try conversion attempt was missed, 10-12. Thain extended the lead for the visitors when he succeeded with a penalty attempt, in the 70th minute, 10-15.
Despite the Heat dominating most of the phases and open play the home side’s’ Cecil Dumond, Malivewi Simanga and Attie Louw proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the visitors. It was Mfaku's 80th minute try that levelled matters, 15-15, and a cool and calm, Dumond stepped up to add the extras and with that snatching victory away from a very clinical and relentless Tel Aviv Heat side.
Final score in the second match of the historic tour to South Africa, Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club 17-15 Tel Aviv Heat ‘Blues’.
Earlier in the day, in the opening encounter Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club scored six tries as they outplayed the Tel Aviv Heat ‘Reds’ winning 40-17 (halftime 15-12) at Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club.
A brace of tries for Bazil, Pibongile Njomba, and Henko Marais for the home side resulted in them claiming victory in the opening match against Israeli professional club side, Tel Aviv Heat.
The visitors drew first blood following a sixth minute lineout when the home side's jumpers lost their own ball resulting in a momentum shift towards the Heat. The visitors capitalised on this to set up a rolling maul setting the platform for winger Gilly Amit who dotted down in the corner, and with pivot Rethabile Mzamo adding the extras, handing the Tel Aviv Heat 'Reds' a 0-7 lead early on.
The Rhinos fired back almost immediately through a penalty, speedster Willian Thulare was trusted with the conversion attempt as the Rhinos opened their scoring after 10 minutes, 3-7.
Despite the many attacking phases that the Heat set up testing the defense of the Rhinos, they held firm as the first half reached its halfway mark. The Rhinos finally got over the try line via a well-worked team effort which enabled second rower Bazil to crash over for their opening try, Thulare missed the conversion which would have handed the home side the lead for the first time in the match, 8-7.
The Rhinos would, however, minutes later take the lead for the first time. A Rhino scrum metres from the Heat's try line allowed lock Pibongile Njomba to get his name on the scoring sheet and with Thulare adding the extras handed the Rhinos a 15-7 lead with just ten minutes left in the first half.
It was however the visitors who had the final say in the first half, Amit completed his brace in the 38th minute, flyhalf Mzamo missed the conversion as both teams went to the half time break with the Rhinos leading the Tel Aviv Heat side, 15-12.
Both sides were looking strong in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, albeit that most of the possession and territory were enjoyed by the Northam Rhinos. Pietersen did, however, extended the Rhinos' lead in the 54th minute via a penalty conversion, 18-12
Bazil got onto the scoring sheet much like Heats' Amit, for a second time when he dotted down as the match entered the last quarter, Pietersen making no mistake with his conversion attempt, 25-12. This sparked a wave of Rhino attack after attack, as they tested the defensive resolve of the visiting side and perhaps the altitude getting the better of the Israeli side. The Rhinos cruised to adding two tries in the last ten minutes of the match, Thulare missing both conversion attempts, 35-12.
Two more tries were scored, one apiece for each side. Tel Aviv Heat lock Misha Eli getting his side's third and late consolation try, conversion missed, 35-17.
The Reds got another consolidation try from the lock Misha Eli, their third after their successful seven phases to take the score to 35-17, and Mzamo missed the two points. Marais scored the Rhinos' sixth try and his second as the match ended 40-17, with the final conversion missed.
Scorers (5 pm kick-off):
For Northam Rhinos: 17
Tries: Sphesihle Wors Sosubo, JT Cronje, Khwezi Mfaku
Cons: Cecil Dumond
For Tel Aviv Heat Blues: 15
Tries: Sebastiaan Jobb, Lesley Klim
Man of the Match: Attie Louw (Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club)
Northam Rhinos: 15 Danie Loots, 14 Anthony Brandt, 13 Mitchell van der Merwe, 12 Cecil Dumond, 11 Ashwill Botha, 10 Clayton Isaacs, 9 Patrick Hattingh, 8 Chaney Willemse, 7 Attie Louw, 6 Patrick Mathe, 5 Ruan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Gerdus Botha, 3 Bruce Muller, 2 Malivewi Simanga, 1 Sphesihle Wors Sosubo
Replacements: 16 Khwezi Mfaku, 17 JT Cronje, 18 Victor Potgieter, 19 Malope Masemola, 20 JB du Toit, 21 Liyasakha Sigwabe, 22 Ruben Opperman, 23 Johnny Welthagen
Tel Aviv Heat Blues: 15 Sebastiaan Jobb, 14 Thobekani Buthelezi, 13 Gabriel Ibitoye, 12 Lesley Klim, 11 Xolisa Guma, 10 Marc Morrison, 9 Bradley Thain, 8 Renaldo Bothma (capt), 7 Prince Gaoseb, 6 Thomas Berman, 5 Graham Knoop, 4 Tyler Brown, 3 Justin Theys, 2 Obert Norje, 1 Thabiso Mdletshe
Replacements: 16 Mcmillan Muller, 17 Ruben Ricco, 18 Ethan Jeffery, 19 Johan Du Preez, 20 Thembi Mangwana, 21 Divan Enslin, 22 Stewi Gantsho, 23 Tyler, 24 Omer, 25
Scorers (3 pm kick-off):
Northam Rhinos: 40
Tries: Bazil (2), Pibongile Njomba (2), Henko Marais (2)
Cons: Willian Thulare (3)
Pens: Thulare (2)
Tel Aviv Heat Reds: 17
Tries: Gilly Amit (2), Misha Eli
Con: Rethabile Mzamo
Man of the Match: Chrizaan Strauss (Northam Rhino’s Rugby Club)
Northam Rhinos: 15 Muller Lategan, 14 Willian Thulare, 13 Robin Golianth, 12 Chrizaan Strauss, 11 Rozzanti Pietersen, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Percy Willemse, 8 JB du Toit, 7 Dawie de Kock, 6 Pibongile Njomba, 5 Bazil, 4 Yamkela Mlamyemi, 3 Victor Potgieter, 2 JT Cronje, 1 Odwa Tinise.
Replacements: 16 Jooste, 17 Zubenathu Sixonxo, 18 Ivann Espag, 19 Henko Marais, 20 Wouter De Villers, 21 Heinrich Somers, 22 Jarid Davis, 23 Calvyn du Toit
Tel Aviv Heat Reds: 15 Vitali Primark, 14 Gilly Amit, 13 Sinothano Thsontyi, 12 Idan Eisenberg, 11 Simphewi Mazibuko, 10 Rethabile Mzamo, 9 Omer Levinson (capt), 8 Peter Driegaard, 7 Tristen Du Preez, 6 Yahell Rozillio, 5 Misha Eli, 4 Yotam Shulman, 3 Connie Campher, 2 Yiftach Engel, 1 Jared Sichel.
Replacements: 16 Eirad Barkai, 17 Nitzan Reizel, 18 JP Lieberum, 19 Yarron Harris, 20 Gilad Vardi, 21 Mayaan Shaked, 22 Saar Gellar, 23 Bennie Bernstein, 24 Dan Stein, 25 Mati Gordon