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Maroon Machine Show Their Class

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On their 150th anniversary day, Paul Roos shrugged off the burden of pressure and expectation to seal a comeback win over a formidable Affies side. The huge home crowd could have caused an attack of the jitters, but the hosts were having none of it, turning a 3-12 half-time deficit into a 29-12 victory. This was a show of pure class from the Stellenbosch team.

Playing in their maroon and white striped 150 jerseys, Paul Roos looked slightly different from the normal Maroon Machine. The kit might have changed, but the style of rugby was the same as we have come to expect from the Stellenbosch Boys over the years.

In a great display of running rugby and uncompromising forward play, the two teams dished out a true schoolboy rugby spectacle. Both sides missed penalties in the early exchanges, with Affies having the advantage of a stiff breeze at their backs. Fullback Josh Vermeulen notched the first points for Paul Roos on 10 minutes after Affies advanced early on a penalty. It proved to be the only penalty goal of the contest.

Affies went on the offensive and launched wave upon wave of attack at the Paul Roos line using their forward might to gain advantage. They finally forced a turnover just outside the Paul Roos 25 metre line and, after excellent interplay by flyhalf Ruan de Swardt, fullback Henco Jordaan twisted his way over the tryline. The conversion was missed to leave Affies 5-3 up after 25 minutes.

Just before half-time Affies again gained turnover ball and Jordaan broke down the left to set 8th man Eduan Lubbe off on a bullocking run. They were held up over the line but, from the resulting 5 metre scrum, they bashed their way over for lock Ruben van Heerden to score. Centre Eddie Fouche converted to take Affies into a nine-point lead.

The second half started much like the first period ended with Affies’ forwards bashing it up to put heavy pressure on the Paul Roos defence. The birthday boys did well to keep Affies out before flyhalf Damian Willemse hacked a long ball down field. In the resulting play, a kick from fullback Jordaan was charged down by Paul Roos centre Nico Leonard. He then won the race to the loose ball to dot down for a try. Vermeulen converted to take Paul Roos back to within two points of the visitors.

Then came the turning point. Affies hoofed upfield before Vermeulen gathered and stepped beautifully to create a huge gap in midfield through which he slipped and raced to the corner for a sparkling try. He failed to convert it, but Paul Roos had inched into the lead.

The Stellenbosch side began to dominate the breakdown areas as individual game breakers like Willemse came to the fore. After a 40 metre darting run, he was held up over the line before wing Troy Payne forced over from the resulting scrum with several Affies men on his back. Vermeulen converted and it was 22-12 with time running out.

Paul Roos finished the job with five minutes to play. Coetzee tapped deep inside his own half and fed Willemse, who created a gap for Vermeulen to race away down field. He timed his inside pass to perfection, finding Jason Myburg who crossed the line for a fourth try before Vermeulen converted. Affies attacked relentlessly as the clock ticked down, but the Paul Roos defence held solid for a superb team win.

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