Fiela in full flight ! Paarl Gym flyhalf Theo Boshoff prepares to get his backline moving
during their 48-19 victory at Rondebosch last weekend. (photo: Robert Gad)
The final Saturday, and it is a very limited one at that, features just one really exciting WP Premier clash, with Paarl Boys’ High heading the ten or so kilometres down the main road and out to Windmeul to meet Boland Landbou.
History reveals that these two teams have a very even record over the 30-odd times they’ve played each other, the relatively small number being due to the fact that the Farm has only been an educational institution for 54 years and did not play rugby in its formative years.
What’s more, a respected – and independent – local statistician informs me that the average score in this encounter at 1stXV level is 15-14 to the Brug Street Boys.
The fact that – and please pardon the pun – try as they might, Landbou never seem to record any success against Paarl Gym only adds fuel to the intense passion that burns in every proud Farmer when it comes to this fixture.
Week in, week out, plenty of comment has appeared here about the sensational performances which have stretched the Boishaai winning streak to around eighteen months.
Regrettably, all I’ve seen of the side has been on Youtube or DSTV, but even from that I can tell you that, while they are privileged to boast some of the finest attacking talent seen in this neck of the woods in many a year, it is their seemingly impregnable, rock-solid defence for which this team will be remembered.
The saying has it that the best form of defence is attack, but, when you deny your opponents the opportunity to stretch the game with a brilliant defensive blanket, that leaves them with practically nothing apart from a massively frustrating 70-minute outing.
The backs tackle like their lives depend on it, but I’d like to single out the selfless kamikaze effectiveness of flank Francke Horn for special praise. Maybe he just gets to make most of the visible tackles and effect the obvious turn-overs, but, rest assured, this man is the heart that pumps the blood through the Strepies.
If Landbou are to enjoy any success this week, then loose forwards Heinrich Brendel, Kevin Reed and Henro Meyer are going to have to muzzle him.
The hosts experienced mixed emotions last Saturday in wrecking DF Malan 111-5.
It was great for every move to bear fruit to the extent that the Boys in Black recorded seventeen tries in the – mercifully – shortened match, but the virtual lack of opposition did not help at all when it came for this weekend’s face-off.
The Farmers’ backline, which has over recent weeks gelled to the point that points machine Duren Hoffman was hardly missed last Saturday, may have contributed all but three of those tries, but would definitely have been considerably happier if they had been made to work harder for them.
Never generous, Boishaai’s Hanri van Heerden, Manny Rass, Urgene Johannes and Thaakir Abrahams will be defending with every fibre in their bodies, grateful in the knowledge that they don’t have another schools game for six weeks.
Henlo Marais, Durin Nasson, Adriaan Stander and Luther McKay won’t be looking forward to a bumper crop last weekend yielded.
In the engine room, Boishaai may have a size advantage overall, but the Landbou eight, in particular the front row, isn’t going to let that bother them.
Expect a classic confrontation between two rivals who respect either as much off the field as they try not to on it.
The fact that the Rondebosch-Bishops match is being televised might affect the size of the crowd as far as the general populace goes, but the entire schools will be out in force to cheer on their heroes in the first of this year’s derbies.
The hosts haven’t really looked at ease of late. Unimpressive victories away to Bellville and Strand, followed by a sound beating at the hands of Paarl Gym on home turf, must hopefully have filled Mark Lindenberg’s side with an urgent desire to pull this one off in order to restore their self-belief and the high regard in which their schoolmates hold them.
Lock Matthew Grobler seems to be realizing the promise he showed last year and with youngsters Zaka Salie, Devon Arendse and Suhaib Ajmoodien all putting their hands up, the pack could conceivably dominate their comparatively lightweight opponents.
Captain Jean Pienaar saw his fellow marauder-in-chief Seb Prentice back out on the wing against Wynberg, where his four-try haul suggests the move may well become permanent. This just heaps further pressure on the locks Byron Cranswick and Luke Viljoen (or Christian Stehlik), who have been struggling somewhat in the line-outs this season.
When it comes to the quick men, it’s never wise to bet against the Platinum Blues and, impressive as Mike Mavovana, Amani Minani, Robbie Davis, DJ Falconer and company have been this winter, they seem set to face a backline approaching its best form.
Harry Makin has become a dependable distributor at the base of the scrum and the recent return from injury of Rob Macdonald at inside centre beside brother James seems to have steadied the midfield.
The visitors have plenty of other gas-burners to call on in Lubelo Scott, Ross Goodwin, Murray Bruce and Tristan Hermans, while Brandon van der Westhuizen looks more and more the finished article at full-back.
Let’s rock the boat and say Bishops might just sneak it !
In contrast, visitors SACS should not have much trouble against a Wynberg side who have spent far too long on the runway and too little time in the air.
The crucial combination at half-back of Lucky Dlepu and David Hayes has acquired that seasoned look, while Nick Redelinghuys and Jordy “The Flying Dutchman” Hop keep a tight rein on the midfield. The excellent form of replacement wing Michael Sutton (four tries in three outings) has been an added bonus.
Berg’s backs haven’t really had the chance to settle if the way Labib Kannemeyer flits from scrumhalf to outside centre to full-back is anything to go by. Their outside backs have tended to be relatively anonymous, which isn’t ideal, whatever the reason.
The local forwards have also struggled to establish anything like the sustained dominance they will need to summon up if they are to deal with the ultra-efficient SACS machine built around hooker Lance Steytler, locks Cameron Laurenson and James Brewer and velociraptors Alex Halvorsen and Liam Larkan on the fringes.
The odds might seem stacked against them, but adverse circumstances often bring out the best in people. The good folk of the leafy suburb will be hoping that this proves to be the case on Saturday.