A rampant WSU All Blacks outfit exerted an excruciating defeat on a hapless Rhodes University outfit during the second round of the 2018 FNB Varsity Shield at the ABSA Stadium in East London on Thursday 22 February.  


Looking to bounce back from a humiliating 42-5 defeat in Cape Town by shield holders UWC on Monday earlier in the week, the All Blacks, running out the tunnel, cut stern figures determined to get their season back on track in front of a partisan WSU crowd.


“A loss was no option in this game. We had to perform better than what we did in Cape Town to get our season back on track and give ourselves the best chance to play deep into the season,” said tighthead and captain Phumlani Blaau.


The floodgates would open up for the All Blacks in the 12th minute in a rather fortuitous manner as WSU fly-half Beauton Pholman took advantage of a poor clearance by Rhodes fly-half which bounced of his own player and onto a gleefully waiting Pholman who’d cross the whitewash.


It would take less than three minutes for All Blacks hooker Maliviwe Mliqi to unceremoniously bustle his way into the Rhodes try zone to see the home side go 13-0 up in the 15th minute, to much fanfare. Mliqi would go on to register a hat rick on the evening.


It would only be in the 31st minute that another score would be registered, with a rampant Mliqi pumping his legs once more across the try line after a crisp pass by scrumhalf Anathi Shenxane from the breakdown situation.


Five minutes later, Pholman would get his second of the night to see WSU go up, after the conversion, 29-0, following a gainful scrum in the 22m area that would see the fly-half carving through the Rhodes defence virtually untouched.


The All Blacks would start the second half where they left off in the first, opening their account in the 43rd minute with a try by hooker Mliqi to take the score to 34-0, who’d touch down in the far corner once again courtesy of a line-break by fly-half Pholman.


Rhodes would hit back three minutes later to register their first converted try of the night in the 46th minute through a bamboozling thrust in front of the WSU poles by the fly-half.


Rhodes loose-head prop Sino Ralo would provide the highlight of the night after an interception try that would see him put in a big dive under the posts after cantering across the line untouched.


The All Blacks’s dominance of the scrum bore fruit in the 65th minute as the Rhodes forward pack would succumb to a more powerful, superior and technically sound scrum that would result in eighth man Chumani Mjacu crossing the try line.


Flanker Mihlali Mosi would provide the cherry on top as he’d penetrate a capitulating Rhodes defence as he’d penetrate three defenders to round off a near-perfect night for the man in black.


The night would end on a 47-16 victory for All Blacks.


“The win was very important in restoring our belief in the team, and also creating much-needed momentum going into the next fixture against CPUT in Cape Town next week. The team is ready and believes in its ability to beat any team in the competition,” said Blaau.


The All Blacks will travel to Cape Town to square off against CPUT at the CPUT Sports Stadium on Monday 26 February.


By: Thando Cezula

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