EVANS MALATULA

Hamilton made history when they became the National Club champions by beating NWU Pukke 36-34. The finals of the South African Airways National Club Championships were held at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday 26 September.

This year Hammies won the Western Province Super League for the first time since 1936, which granted them the chace to make their debut appearance at the national championships. Hamilton are also the first open team to win the tournament since 2001.  

Hamilton got the first try of the game in the fifth minute which was converted. Pukke responded a couple of minutes later, but failed to convert. Dustin Jinka extended Hamilton’s lead to five points through a well-taken penalty in the 13th minute. Pukke equalised in the 15th minute when they got their second try but still failed to convert. Hamilton took the lead again after scoring their second try and successfully converted it to take the lead to seven points. Pukke equalised again when scrum half Andries Mahoney scored the third try which was successfully converted in the 25th minute. Jinka scored two penalties to put Hamilton on a six-point lead before half-time.

Hammies continued to extend their lead in the second half when fly half Liaan Scriven scored his side’s third try. It was excellently converted by the accurate Jinka and followed by yet another well-taken penalty which gave the WP champs a 16 point lead. Pukke fought hard to come back into the game by narrowing the gap when Willem van de Wal scored a try from a line out penalty in the 50th minute. Stefan Bezuidenhout brought back Pukke’s hopes when he scored his side’s fifth try which was successfully converted in the 62nd minute and which narrowed Hammies’ lead down to just four points. Jinka kicked yet another penalty to increase his side’s lead to seven points. Pukke had an opportunity to equalise when Willem Barnard scored their sixth try, but Theuns Kotze seemed to have left his kicking boots elsewhere, because the conversion was unsuccessful.

The North West champs were given another chance when they were awarded a penalty in the last minute of the game. They chose to kick for a touch, but that was not enough as Hammies did well in defending two line outs before the final siren went off.  As South Africa’s oldest team, Hamilton will certainly mark this season as one of their best ever in their 134 years of existence.

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