A last-gasp converted try after the full-time hooter from fullback Thobela Macwili saw Swallows steal an exciting victory over fierce rivals MPM Old Selbornians in their opening 2017 Gold Cup match at the BCM Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was Swallows first ever Gold Cup appearance and it lived up to the pre-match billing of being a cracker, with Swallows just edging a bruising encounter that saw two serious injuries and a number of stoppages as both teams required treatment throughout the match.
“We are so happy and excited, it was a very tough and difficult match, but the players played to our game plan and got the win,” said Swallows assistant coach Mzuko Velentiya.
“We are so proud of the team’s fight back in the second half.
“This was the start we wanted, we have got five points and we want to build on this going into the rest of the competition.”
Old Boys will have no one to blame but themselves for the loss after they twice took charge, with an early 12 point lead in the first half and then held a 14 point advantage with 17 minutes of the match to go, with Swallows showing a never-say-die attitude to storm back on both occasions.
Old Boys will also be kicking themselves, having a chance to close out the game in the last four minutes after receiving a penalty in Swallows half, where instead of going for poles which would have pushed them to a nine point advantage, they instead went for touch and subsequently lost the ball.
The chance was in a tricky position, out towards the right hand touch line and between the 22m and 10m lines, but in such a tight match teams needed to take every opportunity coming their way and not going for poles in the end gave Swallows a glimmer of hope, which they gleefully took to send their fans wild at the final whistle.
The match kicked off with Old Boys getting off to a flyer as fullback Paul Warner rounded off a good attack in the right hand corner and hooker Sesethu Time dotted down towards the left hand corner after a powerful rolling maul, with scrumhalf Craig Shone slotting one conversion to take a 12-0 lead within the first 10 minutes.
Things then looked to be going from bad to worse for Swallows as prop Buhle Nojekwa was stretchered off in the 14th minute with a very serious looking leg injury after going down awkwardly in a tackle.
However 10 minutes later Swallows got back in it against the run of play as flyhalf Aphiwe Stemele intercepted a pass in his own half, before sprinting away for an unconverted score in the right hand corner.
The 28th minute then saw Old Boys lose a player of their own to a serious injury as wing Ndima Gwavu went in for a tackle and came off second best, with his head seeming to hit the hip of a Swallows player, following which he was stretchered off with a concussion.
An unconverted length of the field team try to Swallows wing Siyasanga Pati with eight minutes to half time saw Old Boys head into the break with a slender 12-10 lead.
The second half then went very much like the first as Old Boys scored two tries with one converted through replacement back Siya Mgubo and flyhalf MJ Le Marquand to lead 24-10 after 63 minutes.
Swallows’ Macwili then took centre stage as he slotted a penalty and scored two tries, converting one, all in the last 14 minutes to lead his team to