Flash Of Muller Magic Lights Gym’s Fuse


Choice Shots 26

Blastoff !  Giant Paarl Gym lock Adriaan Ludick towers over the other forwards as he secures line-out
possession in the match against Boland Landbou, which Gym won 34-14. (photo: Arenda Staples)

After trailing visitors Boland Landbou 8-9 with 22 minutes to go, Paarl Gym put in a breathtaking four-try spurt to clinch the match by a slightly flattering 34-14 margin on Saturday 9 April 2016.

A very large crowd braved the 32 degree heat to watch what many had felt could be a crucial match in establishing the the higher places in the local pecking order for the season.

As it turned out, the exchanges were predictably tense until Gym left wing Muller du Plessis scored a sensational try which galvanized his team-mates to such an extent that they completely dominated the closing minutes of what had until then been a nailbiting clash.

Landbou kicked off deep into their hosts’ 22 metre area, but couldn’t capitalize on this, conceding a penalty for side entry after a brief exchange of kicks.  A superb take from the resulting line-out – the first of many – by imposing Gym lock Adriaan Ludick, saw flyhalf Theo Boshoff take play far upfield, but Landbou scrumhalf Deon Carstens covered neatly to repel the attack.

The Farmers made some ground when they held up a maul in midfield, but that didn’t prevent Boshoff from attempting an audacious, but unsuccessful, attempt at a drop goal from all of 45 metres.

While the Windmeul flyhalf Janlu Steenkamp was proving reliable with his kicking out of hand, it was Gym who seemed to be settling down more quickly as a unit.

Their lively trump cards, full-back Wian van Zyl and du Plessis, created a gap in midfield, but saw their efforts go unrewarded due to a knock-on. Unperturbed the home side returned to the attack via a telling drive by no. 8 Muller Uys. 

When a handling error saw the move break down, a penalty advantage enabled Boshoff to set up a five-metre line-out and the ball was shuttled out to the left, allowing van Zyl to cross the tryline midway out. (Paarl Gym 5 Boland Landbou 0 – 12 minutes)

A brief comedy of errors from the kick-off saw Gym penalized twenty metres out, giving Landbou right wing Duren Hoffman the chance to put his side on the scoreboard from the tee. (Paarl Gym 5 Boland Landbou 3 – 13 minutes)

A familiar pattern was developing as Steenkamp cleared the kick-off giving Gym the chance to counterattack, only for a knock-on to leave the hosts – and their supporters – increasingly frustrated.  Another chance to return a Steenkamp punt with interest was snuffed out by overcomplication in the backline.

A fine line-out take by Gym lock Raymond Nel was squandered, his side being blown up for holding on in the tackle, allowing Hoffman to edge the Farmers in front. (Paarl Gym 5 Boland Landbou 6 – 17 minutes)  

Another long-range kicking duel saw the Gym fast men forge their way forward for the umpteenth time, but they had to be satisfied with a Boshoff penalty when Landbou were adjudged to have entered a ruck from the side. (Paarl Gym 8 Boland Landbou 6 – 21 minutes)

To their supporters’ delight Landbou launched a lovely move which might have seen Hoffman score, but a copybook tackle by Gym inside centre Wian van Niekerk took him into touch and when the visitors were blown up from the line-out, Boshoff was able to drive them back thirty metres.

The next Gym drive came from nuggety tighthead François Staples and the tireless Muller Uys, but Hoffman managed to deal with the threat.

Play seemed to fall back into something of a ding-dong battle for much of the rest of the first half, neither side being able to make much headway despite the home team’s dominance in the line-outs.

Landbou hooker François Bruwer did briefly raise the travelling faithful’s hopes with a powerful charge, but an overcooked grubber in the next phase allowed Boshoff to gather at the back of a line-out and move play back to the halfway line.

A similarly dynamic run by Gym prop André Booysen set up right wing Jan Jordaan, but the latter was tackled out to end the half.  Half Time : Paarl Gym 8 Boland Landbou 6.

It was the Farmers who looked the more effective after the break, inside centre Henlo Marais cutting through from deep after a rushed touchkick by Boshoff had taken play to within thirty metres of his line.  A precision grubber by Steenkamp saw the attackers just seven metres out, but a monster tackle by Ludick averted the immediate danger.

After a long wait the Boland forwards finally got their collective act together to maintain this pressure, but the desperate quest for points proved too great, so, when referee Egon Seconds Gym penalized Gym for hands in a ruck, Hoffman was entrusted with putting the men in black ahead again. (Paarl Gym 8 Boland Landbou 9 – 43 minutes) 

Boshoff missed a penalty attempt just after the kick-off, but Uys was increasingly making his presence felt with Trojan work in the tight loose.  Despite his side conceding another penalty, the fiery no. 8 led a drive which ended in touch less than ten metres from the Landbou line. 

With both Gym’s first- (Bernard Swart) and second-choice (Sehan du Toit) hookers injured, it proved a case of third man lucky as Michael Houndsome crashed over in the corner.  Boshoff slotted the angled conversion. ((Paarl Gym 15 Boland Landbou 9 – 48 minutes)

The time had come for that moment of sheer brilliance which so often determines the outcome of a match.  Picking up the ball fifteen metres inside his half on cover defence, Muller du Plessis took off on a scintillating run straight through the heart of a bemused Landbou defence,  outpacing all would-be tacklers to dot down near the posts.  Boshoff’s conversion finally put daylight between the sides. (Paarl Gym 22 Boland Landbou 9 – 50 minutes)

The hosts were rampant and minutes later a move down the right flank was started and finished by Gym’s captain and scrumhalf Zak Burger. (Paarl Gym 27 Boland Landbou 9 – 56 minutes)

More driving by the home team and a penalty for a high tackle gave Burger further chance to showcase his skills, with the visitors being forced to dot down to concede-metre scrum.  Gym gratefully accepted the opportunity to whack a final nail into the Landbou coffing, a sublime pop-pass releasing van Zyl through to score under the crossbar.  Boshoff added the extras. (Paarl Gym 34 Boland Landbou 9 – 63 minutes)

To their credit the Farmers did manage to put together a very neat movement out to the left, wing Durin Nasson running in untouched, but it was too little far too late. (Paarl Gym 34 Boland Landbou 14 – 65 minutes) 

Landbou substitute loose forward Athi Magwala put in one of his trademark runs, but his being tackled into touch brought proceedings to an end.  Final score : Paarl Gym 34 Boland Landbou 14.

The hosts will have to up their concentration, particularly up front, if they are to come out on top against Paul Roos at the Kriel field next Saturday.

Their forwards enjoyed overall supremacy, thanks largely, and I use that word advisedly, to enforcer Adriaan Ludick and the other big men, of whom Muller Uys – who registered a unique double, receiving the Man of the Match award just as he did in the corresponding fixture last year – is in imperious form, but some of the others were ominously anonymous for prolonged periods of the game.

As for the backs, little needs to be said.  They are as much a source of joy as one of pride to their large band of followers.

For Boland, who take on SACS on the Farm next Saturday, the all-round effectiveness of the pack needs urgent attention.  Their backs gave hints of that of which they are capable, but were never afforded any real opportunities to strut their stuff by a miserly Gym defence.

If Week One is any indication of what’s to come, we’re looking at a super season !