In the heat of battle. Durbanville and Bishops players struggle for the ball on the ground during
Saturday’s game won by 72-14 by the team from Rondebosch. (photo: Antoinette Mouton)
Durbanville suffered a second body blow in as many weeks when they lost 14-72 at home to Premier A side Bishops on Saturday 20 May 2017.
Coming in the wake of the 84-17 humiliation meted out by last week’s visitors, Brackenfell, one cannot but think that this represents a serious emergency for a team whose determined efforts to raise their profile have recently garnered much praise in the local school's rugby fraternity.
This article will not be a match report in the established sense of the term. Instead, it will largely be devoted to an overall analysis of the game and an examination of the contrasting current rugby fortunes of these two schools.
It may have taken lock Aidan Neill just seven minutes to round off some crisp inter passing with the opening try, but the fairly sizable crowd, drawn outdoors by the pleasant sunny weather, could hardly have anticipated what was to follow.
Versatile hooker Ghaalib Kenny, who incidentally started the proceedings with the kickoff, maintained his high profile by popping up in the right places at the right times to notch three five-pointers in the next sixteen minutes.
A couple of conversions by full-back James Ipser took the score to 24-0 and it was effectively game over, despite a great break by the Durbies outside centre Juanré de Klerk, which led to the difference being cut by seven points.
This proved to be a minor blip to the visitors, who were playing in their all-white kit. The next five minutes yielded further tries by lock Tim Sharples and Ipser, whose conversions took the half-time score to 38-7.
A second Durbanville try, by full-back Diagho Miggel, which briefly encouraged the local supporters, served merely as punctuation in the greater scheme of things as Kenny barged over the whitewash for the fourth time. He was followed by scrumhalf Ross Goodwin with a breathtaking break from behind a ruck which saw him run around the entire defence to score wide on the right.
A thirteen-minute lull was shattered by four Bishops tries in the last twelve minutes, Goodwin stepping through a dispirited defence for his second, substitute left wing Reece Meyer capitalising on two Beauden Barrett-like chips and reserve flank Nathan “The Mamba” Maimba slithering in from forty metres out right on time. Two more conversions made the final score 72-14.
Is there a big question mark about Durbanville’s continued presence, let alone rise, in local schools rugby?
This question is not easily answered, not least because of the almost schizophrenic difference between the senior sides and the age-group teams.
The Under 14 A, Under 15 A and Under 16A are units of which any school would be justifiably proud. The youngest group cantered home 33-12 on Saturday, as did the oldest, 49-14, while the Under 15s gave a very creditable performance to restrict their accomplished visitors to a 17-8 victory.
True, there might not be great depth – they could only field C teams in the Under 14 and Under 19 divisions – but success is the best way to attract the attention of the next generation of players. After all, it is these youngsters, who have already bought into the school’s attempt to grow, who will inevitably be spreading the word to friends of much the same age.
Maybe this anecdote highlights the school’s commitment to its current efforts to build from the bottom up. Apparently, two Under 14s were spirited away by a notorious Tshwane school. No problem. Durbanville promptly reacted by securing the services of two replacements from Swartland. It helps when your school has a very cosy hostel!
Turn to the open teams and the situation is very different. For example, the 2nd XV game featured uncontested scrums throughout because of Durbanville’s shortage of front rowers. The 3rd XV match must have been quite intriguing!
The 1st XV hadn’t really shown any warning signs of the disaster which has befallen them. A great 55-22 win against Lydenburg at the Wynberg Festival was soon followed by a 31-22 success at home to Hugenote.
What makes the fact that the two recent hidings were both at home all the more disconcerting is that next week unpredictable Tygerberg, who have a knack of uncovering and then exploiting weaknesses, make the short drive up the hill, followed by SACS on 3 June, potentially fuelling a very real sense of disenchantment among their supporters.
On Saturday there were times when the home defence was completely lacking, allowing Bishops to give the ball enough air to inflate the Hindenburg. And let’s not mention the heaps of possession the hosts generously turned over.
It was a rather embarrassing performance, never more so than when Goodwin shrugged off about six pathetic attempts to break free and canter over for his second try.
Bishops were by no means fielding a settled team, having been forced to make adjustments due to illness and injury. Ironically, their front row was most affected. Loosehead Benjamin Nel will be out for several months, while his tighthead partner David Courie was struck down by the ’flu.
More tellingly, however, the dislocated shoulder which has effectively ended scrumhalf William Rose’s season had a most unexpected upside.
Nuggety left wing Ross Goodwin, the Man of the Match willingly returned to the position he had filled in his earlier years to devastating effect. His bullet pass, coupled with his speed off the mark, bought extra time for the midfield, which has had its problems recently.
Such was the service he gave flyhalf Aydan Labuschagne that, growing visibly in confidence, the latter setup Reece Meyer’s two tries with brilliantly weighted chips over the defence.
After the match, Goodwin wryly noted that he had informed the selectors at last week’s WP Under 18 trials, to which he had been invited as a no.11, that he was also a scrum-half, but was simply ignored. Hopefully, someone will read this to the selectors!
The flagship side has been looking better and better since the KES debacle, yet on Saturday their large band of supporters was treated to a slightly different game-plan. Gone was the desperate urge to swing the ball wide, come what may. In its place was a very attractive, measured fifteen-man game in which the forwards and backs shared possession.
An added bonus was the presence in the scrum of Ross Doyle and Adrian Neill, younger members of well-known Bishops rugby families, something which should not have escaped their hosts: that it is just as invaluable to have successive “generations” of players as it is to worry only about the present. Instant tradition is nothing but a transparent oxymoron.
In conclusion: it’s been a weekend of very high scores around the province. Hopefully, Durbanville can take some consolation from the fact that lightning seldom strikes in the same place three times!