Gym Down Stellies In Cruise Mode 47 – 17

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“Don't try any funny stuff, boet !”  Paarl Boys’ High outside centre Manny Rass (13, in blue and
keeps an eye on his SACS counterpart Jordy Hop (centre) during Saturday’s game,
while SA
Schools captain Salmaan Moerat (left) and Young Ikey’s flyhalf David Hayes
(10, right)
look on.  The Winelands team won 28-13. (photo: Sharon Laurenson)

Paarl Gym experienced little difficulty beating a game Stellenberg side 47-17 at their Jan Kriel field on Saturday 30 July 2016.

A fairly large crowd enjoyed the beautiful sunny day, the temperature hovering around the 20 degree, despite a light, swirling breeze.

Having run up an impregnable 47-10 lead midway through the second half, the hosts substituted many of their key players with an eye on the annual Interschools match against Boishaai at Faure Street on 6 August.

Gym started the game without WP Academy Week lock Raymond Nel and outside centre Christopher Willemse, both of whom were suffering from flu.  While the former’s presence was indeed sorely felt at the line-outs, far more potentially worrisome was the enforced early substitution of SA Schools left wing Muller du Plessis, scheduled to play full-back. 

Hopefully, all three of these players will be fit to take the field against Boishaai.

An inauspicious start saw the Stellenberg kick-off going directly into touch – not the only occasion on which this happened.  Gym were awarded a penalty after the resulting scrum, giving flyhalf Theo Boshoff the chance to set up a line-out on the Jade Brigade 22.

Possession changed hands at a dazzling rate as the visitors stole the line-out feed, had their attempted clearance charged down and then were awarded a penalty for Gym holding on in a ruck.

Stellies flyhalf Evert Carstens found touch just inside the Gym half, from which their scrumhalf, Ricardo Duarttee, recently returned from a long-term injury, sent left-wing Angelo Davids away, but he was tackled by the cover defence, allowing Boshoff to relieve the pressure with a fine touchfinder.

The Jade Brigade were looking anything but intimidated by their hosts’ impressive record and Carstens broke briefly, but Gym managed to turn possession over.  However, after a comfortable line-out take, the visitors took the ball through several phases before outside centre Fouché van Rooyen cut through a hesitant defence to score from 27 metres out.  (Paarl Gym 0 Stellenberg 5 – 8 minutes)

Gym responded with a trademark movement involving crisp interpassing between forwards and backs, but were penalized close to their opponents’ line, allowing Carstens to send them back forty metres with a huge kick. 

The visitors moved closer to the Gym line when the hosts’ skipper, scrumhalf Zak Burger, was penalized for holding on after he had broken away from his support, but Gym quickly used a wayward kick-ahead to turn defence into attack and raised a cheer when they opted to set up an attacking line-out rather than slot a simple penalty.

Although the visitors stole the line-out, they failed to make any real headway, conceding a penalty on their own 22.  Boshoff glided through the defence from the attacking line-out and, when he was held up close to the line, Gym’s SA Schools player Muller Uys, playing in his familiar no. 8 jersey, breached the defence to dot down near the posts for Boshoff to put his side ahead.  (Paarl Gym 7 Stellenberg 5 – 18 minutes)

After a few minutes of midfield exchanges, with Burger dictating play for Gym, the visitors were blown up for offside on their 22.  Burger broke the first defensive line before feeding tighthead Adriaan Staples who sent lock Bryan Buitendag crashing over in the corner. The angle hardly bothered Boshoff. (Paarl Gym 14 Stellenberg 5 – 23 minutes)

Good work by Duarttee and Carstens gave Stellenberg hope, but it was Gym who drove back relentlessly, scoring again when a delightful offload by Boshoff sent outside centre Morné Buxman through a tiny gap to dash twenty metres for Gym’s third try.  Boshoff duly raised the flags. (Paarl Gym 21 Stellenberg 5 – 27 minutes)

An element of frustration saw Carstens attempt an optimistic drop goal, which Gym cleared to some 25 metres from their line.  When the Jades knocked on in midfield, another surge by both backs and forwards ended with giant lock Adriaan Ludick thundering over next to the uprights, making Boshoff’s task easy.  (Paarl Gym 28 Stellenberg 5 – 31 minutes)

Stellenberg’s overcooked restart put Gym back on the front foot, a great Boshoff chip bouncing awkwardly for left wing Ryno Boonzaaier.  Regaining possession after the line-out, Gym took the ball into contact before freeing Boshoff to score in the right corner.  Half time : Paarl Gym 33 Stellenberg 5.

The visitors started the second half brightly, running the ball out of defence and setting up a line-out thirty metres from the Gym line.  This only filled Gym with renewed resolve and they drove the ensuing maul back several metres, securing the scrum put-in. 

Stellies poached the ball and tried to run again, but poor handling resulted in a knock-on, which almost cost them dearly, Boshoff’s precision chip being collected by right wing Jan Jordaan, who was tackled out on the corner flag.  Gym themselves then knocked with the tryline begging, but they recovered to force a five-metre scrum.

When the Jades’ backline came up too quickly for referee Jaco Smith’s liking, Gym let the forwards rumble the ball into the danger zone, for Ludick to finish off the move with his second five-pointer midway out.  Boshoff added the conversion. (Paarl Gym 40 Stellenberg 5 – 46 minutes)

The visitors refused to be cowed and attacked again, despite the seemingly impregnable home defence, and a sublime break by their full-back Corné van Romburgh saw the ball quickly shifted out to the left where Davids showed skilful footwork to jink his way over from close range.  (Paarl Gym 40 Stellenberg 10 – 50 minutes)

Yet again, the hosts’ response was as emphatic as ever, several rolling mauls bringing them close enough to the line for hooker Sehan du Toit to get the touchdown.  Substitute flyhalf Daniël Beukes completed Gym’s scoring for the day.  (Paarl Gym 47 Stellenberg 10 – 53 minutes)

At this point Gym cleared the bench to rest some weary legs ahead of next Saturday, which disrupted their play for a few minutes.  When they did set up a five metre line-out, a skew put-in rescued Stellenberg, who dominated proceedings briefly despite ruthless tackling from the locals.

It was after one such driving foray that Davids popped up at the back of a ruck to dart over midway out.  Carstens converted to finish the scoring. (Paarl Gym 47 Stellenberg 17 – 58 minutes)

The remaining twelve minutes closely resembled a bout of shadow boxing, neither side wanting  to take the initiative, Gym in particular appearing to be content to wait out the final whistle, although they did come within 17 metres of the visitors’ line before conceding a penalty for holding on.

The final minutes were characterized by clumsy handling from both teams, overeagerness costing Stellenberg well-earned territory.  When the opportunity presented itself, Gym were quite happy to put the ball into touch. Final score : Paarl Gym 47 Stellenberg 17.

Divan Batt’s side certainly put the wealth of experience they have acquired this season to good use in the game, benefitting enormously from the return to fitness of Duarttee alongside Carstens, now back in his preferred position at flyhalf.  While they were competitive in most phases, they did find closing down the creative Gym backline play an onerous task.

Their display, along with those of their junior sides – for example, the Under 15As drew 5-5 –indicate that the giant step up taken by this progressive school has definitely proved beneficial. Put it this way, coaching director Giscard Pieters wasn’t in the least crestfallen after the day’s events.

Gym merely confirmed just how integral their half-back pairing of Zak Burger and Man of the Match Theo Boshoff is to their continuing fortune.  Their deft touches and virtually faultless option-taking kept the northern suburbs lads under constant pressure.

As always, Gym’s hospitality and the sportsmanship of everyone concerned made for a memorable day of healthy competition where winning might have been the icing on the cake for some, but everybody went home feeling as if they had got at least a small slice.