Before I even discuss what my opinion of the Lions chances is please remember this. I do not see me as a selector or even an expert. My views are only based on the two trials I attended and is obviously influenced by the brand of rugby I prefer and what I think is needed to become the no1 team at the Craven Week. I did not take substitutions into account and believe that they will play a major role in achieving success at the Craven Week. And yes I am glad I am not a selector soo many choices so many chances to make "mistakes". Hats off gentlemen.
If everything goes to plan the Lions u/18 Craven Week team will meet Western Province's team on the second day at St Stithians but as underdogs. Western Province will have an awesome team with Boishaai supplying the bulk of the team supplemented by all the other very talented boys from the other schools. Therefore to win this game they will need MEN up front willing to do the hard and DIRTY work with backs that can create magic from nothing. The defence will be non-negotiable and anyone not willing to defend must rather stay at home.
Taking this into account do the Lions really have the players to match Western Province? I have not seen anybody at the trials really dominating come scrum time with Jason Cloete of KES maybe the surprise as he completely overshadowed N Asanathi from St. Stithians come scrum time. Keegan Glade, also from KES, was impressive come scrum time but also added some much needed oomph in the loose play. A lot of quality hookers were on display but taking into account the need for hard men up front makes Dameon Venter of Helpmekaar the only logical choice. This 'young Bismarck' is impressing me more and more everytime I see him play. At lock, there was only one player and that was Christen van Niekerk of Monnas, who looked impressive after a long period on the sidelines due to injury. He is back with intent in his game. This boy possesses big, very big iron balls and as with Dameon, I would gladly go to war with him. Maybe the controversial choice will be that of Tutty Faber of St. Stithians over the super talented Mark Snyman. Tutty put a workmanlike performance in whereas Mark, unfortunately, did not have the best of trials these past two rounds. At no eight my choice is Tawanda Mutumba of St. Stithians, that showed he can play a full game at a high work rate and again not scared to mix it up with the big boys, outperforming his more well-known opponents.
At number nine Ruhan Viviers is preferred to Thinus Combrinck as his performance was again that of the more complete scrumhalf always looking for extra work and Thinus only played a little more than one half. Both boys will be welcome in any other province. Then one of the stars of the day was Tristan Oosthuizen of Helpmekaar. This flyhalf impressed with his soft hands and his distribution of the ball. He must certainly be one of the top flyhalves in the country at the moment. The centres and wings did not see much of the ball, as is customary in trials and one or two displays of brilliance were the deciding factor in my choices. The name of Llewellyn Ellis of Carltonville must, however, be mentioned as this no 14 looked for work the whole night and when he touched the ball there was chaos for the opposing side's defence. I did not pick him in one of the two sides as most of his play was in broken play and therefore could not rate him as such. At fullback, Dandre Prinsloo was just a cut above the other fullbacks.
Notably absent from this round of trials, possibly through injury or illness, were the Helpmekaar blindside flanker Liam van den Berg, the brilliant Jeppe centre and last year's Grant Khomo captain Muzi Manyike, and the excellent fly-half Kieran Houlston from St. John's.
|Team One||Team Two|
|1||Jason Cloete (KES)||1||R Oosthuizen (Florida)|
|2||Dameon Venter (Helpies)||2||Darnell Osuagwu (Park Town)|
|3||Keegan Glade (KES)||3||Eben Brand (Monnas)|
|4||Cristen van Niekerk (Monnas)||4||Keegan Munroe (KES)|
|5||Stephan le Roux (Monnas)||5||T Muller (MV)|
|6||Tutty Faber (Stithians)||6||Mark Snyman (Helpies)|
|7||Liaan du Toit (Helpies)||7||Franco Schutte (Monnas)|
|8||Tawanda Mutumba (Stithians)||8||Travis Gordon (KES)|
|9||Ruhan Viviers (Helpies)||9||Tinus Combrinch (Monnas)|
|10||Tristan Oosthuizen (Helpies)||10||Jonathan Viljoen (Monnas)|
|11||Zach Boonzaaier (Helpies)||11||C Sikwe (Florida)|
|12||Yanga Hlalu (KES)||12||S Cloete (MV)|
|13||Leon Mpheku (KES)||13||Bradley Nenzou (Bennies)|
|14||Brendan Buitendach (Monnas)||14||Tommy van Tonder (Helpies)|
|15||Dandre Prinsloo (Monnas)||15||Kennedy Mpheku (KES)|
|1||Ayuk Ebot (Fourways)|
|2||M Brandon (Monnas)|
|3||N Asanathi (Stithians), C Bristow (Jeppe)|
|4||H du Randt (Monnas)|
|5||S Marks Randpark), E Gcwabe (Bennies)|
|6||L Lindes (Monnas)|
|7||E Cloete (KES), K Timmerman (Parktown)|
|8||PJ Jacobs (Monnas), B Clarke (Helpies)|
|9||Q Marais (MV)|
|10||B Marchbank (MV) C Humphreys (Trinity), R Willemse (Florida)|
|11||J Msimanga (Jeppe)|
|12||L Rossouw (Monnas)|
|13||T Hayward (KES)|
|14||L Ellis (Carltonville|
|15||D Curry (Helpies), T Swanepoel (Florida)|