Sasol Digi Mag was crowned Mpumalanga champions for the third year in a row when they beat Middelburg 22-16 in the Mpumalanga final.
The game was not as spectacular as usual. The off period that Sasol Digi Mag had proved to be a disruptive period rather than positive. Middelburg did their homework and the fact that they played last weekend worked in their favour. The scoreboard tells the tale of hard work to win the game.
This does not mean that Sasol Digi Mag did not entertain. Despite some problem areas, Sasol showed that they are worthy Mpumalanga winners and that they should compete in the Gold Cup. Sasol Digi Mag is definitely one of the best clubs in the country.
The game started and Sasol scored first with a converted penalty. Middelburg replied a little later with their own converted penalty. This was the trend for most of the game.
Both sides played an attacking game and for most the defences held firm.
Sasol’s backline passed the ball quickly but often it was off the mark. Several times the ball did not find the intended player and the backline had to turn around to recover the ball. The handling also did not measure up to Sasol’s normal standard. But when the ball was handled correctly and passed accurately, the home team were a force to reckon with. It seemed that Sasol was on the verge to break the dam wall, so to say, but every time Middelburg clawed their way back into the game.
The ball was always passed very quickly around the scrums and mauls and the attacking game around that area was quite good. Middelburg charged it with vigour and is very lucky to escape without receiving a yellow card or two.
The discipline on Sasol’s side was strained to the point where they received two yellow cards. The crowds definitely did not approve of the referee’s decision in sending the players off. Sasol also had to bear the brunt when it came to dishing out penalties as they were often punished.
There were a few scrums that went against Sasol but the scrums were good and solid. Middelburg proved to be good opponents in the scrums.
The main negative issue was the lineouts. The ball was not on the spot and a lot of own lineouts were lost to the ball not finding its mark. Own lineouts should always be won and a few of your opponent balls stolen.
Sasol’s players were doing an excellent job in obtaining the ball in the loose scrums and tackles. They did receive a number of penalties in this area that didn’t always make sense but the best ref normally sits on the side.
As the game came to a close, relief was on everyone’s face, even on those of Middelburg. The season has ended on a high note for Sasol and unfortunately, Middelburg was sent home as the losing team. But both teams can hold their head up high as the crowd enjoyed the game.
Sasol’s Second team played against Whiteriver earlier in the afternoon. It was a more entertaining game with a lot of running rugby played. Sasol seconds eventually beat Whiteriver 45-17. The game, however, was not a totally one-sided affair. Whiteriver came to play rugby and played a good game. Sasol seconds were also crowned winners of their league.
Thank you to all the teams that played on Saturday. Congratulations to Sasol on their wins and being crowned Mpumalanga winners.