Mountains And Molehills

Choice Shots 2

Just in time !  Boland Landbou scrumhalf Deon Carstens (in black) manages to put
boot to ball as Strand flank Calvin Kruger (left) closes in during their match on
Saturday 23 April 2016. The Farmers won 71-12. (photo: Marilize Jordaan)

Do yourself a favour: click on the Fixtures section and take a look at the huge number of fixtures scheduled for the six days from Wednesday 27 April to Monday 2 May 2016.  Allowing for the Monday’s K2 Festival fixtures in Oudtshoorn, which only get drawn up on Saturday evening, the total tops 100 !

It’s taxing enough keeping up with the usual 25 or so games on a Saturday, so you’ll pardon my apprehension ahead of what is, at least for spectators, a time to get out and enjoy about as much as schoolboy rugby as any one person can digest.

The battlefields range from HS Diamantveld (Wildeklawer Festival 30 April, 2 May), Wynberg (Wynberg 175 Festival, the same dates) and Oudtshoorn (the K2 Festival, also on the same dates) to the final Boland Trials, divided into three days (Wednesday 27 April at HTS Drostdy, Saturday 30 April at Labori and Monday 2 May at Swartland).

The Boland Trials days provide a final opportunity for aspiring provincial candidates who might have slipped through the earlier sifting procedure to stake their claim for inclusion in the Boland sides for the mid-year inter-provincial weeks.

What are the Western Cape sides’ chances at what is effectively the last condensed hurdle of the season ?

The area is even better represented at Wildeklawer than usual, now that Stellenberg has been added in the place of SANIX-bound Glenwood.

Outeniqua have the toughest task of all, drawn against Affies and Monument.  The Quaggas have been operating a little below the remarkably high level to which their supporters have become used and may find this to be a most forgettable weekend, result-wise.

Neighbours Oakdale mix the ridiculous with the sublime.  After a relatively unhindered path up till now, they take the field against the SARU XV on Saturday, hardly ideal preparation for a date with mighty Grey College on Monday. 

The only thing in the Bulls’ favour is that the Bloemfontein side might be a bit short of game-time due to Free State rules requiring that matches be stopped as soon as one team reaches 50 points.  Grey’s last two games have both suffered that fate !

Paarl Boys’ High shouldn’t find the current Waterkloof side too much of a problem first up, but will be hoping that Affies will still be licking their wounds after a thorough going-over at Outeniqua’s hands when they face off on Monday.  Oh, and then next Saturday, 7 May, Grey College come down to Brug Street. 

Let’s hold thumbs for a successful eight days for Elmo and Sean’s charges, who have been maintaining remarkably high standards for going on fifteen months.

Paarl Gym are unlikely to struggle against Menlopark, but EG Jansen haven’t been eating at the high table of the game at national level without good reason and are likely to stretch Zak Burger and the boys to the limit.

Paul Roos must be pleased with their assignment.  HTS Middelburg aren’t quite the same force as in recent years and Monday’s opposition, Menlo Park, fall into much the same category.

The chances of Boland Landbou emerging from the weekend unscathed have increased exponentially over the last few weeks as they have stoically put the disappointment of defeat against Paarl Gym behind them to beat SACS and thrash Strand.

They have sidestepped the really big guns so gracefully that they must fancy their chances against hosts Diamantveld and Waterkloof.

Even without ace scrumhalf Ricardo Duarttee, who sustained a serious injury against Bellville last weekend, newcomers Stellenberg shouldn’t have too much difficulty seeing off struggling Noord-Kaap in their first match, but their big-league honeymoon might well come to an end when they take on Garsfontein on Monday.

The southern suburbs Premier A contingent will all be displaying their not inconsiderable talents at the Wynberg 175 Festival.

The hosts might overcome Gauteng’s St John’s on Saturday, but Maritzburg College are going some way to rebuilding the aura of invincibility that surrounded them some years ago.  Extra needle, if needed, will be provided by the fact that former Berg coach Chris Luman is the current College headmaster.

SACS will be able to give their all against the same Natal midlands side on Saturday, secure in the knowledge that they face DF Malan in their annual meeting on the Monday.  Mind you, the way DF laid into De Kuilen (45-10) last weekend, maybe the Young Ikeys should be just a tad wary of the Bellville boys,

The Irish tour has worked wonders in helping forge a delightful Rondebosch unit, as evidenced by their gutsy performance, even in defeat to Paul Roos (26-43) at the Markotter a few days
ago.

On Saturday they cross swords with a KES side that seems to be hogging the headlines for reasons other than their on-field excellence, while Monday’s clash with Windhoek shouldn’t pose particularly searching questions.

Hopefully Bishops can continue their upward curve against Windhoek on Saturday because they are definitely going to have to be in top gear when they tackle a very highly-rated Jeppe side in arguably the pick of the festival on Monday.

To digress briefly, I believe I contributed to what must be one of the last meetings between these two schools.  In 1987 I was tasked with getting Bishops to come up to the Kimberley Boys’ High Centenary Rugby Day, on which they had to pull out all the stops to beat the Black-and-White Hoops 18-10.

Tygerberg should clear their Upington hurdle with ease on the Saturday, but might find themselves trying to run through treacle when they take on KES in the 8:00 game on Monday.

Although Wellington’s Hugenote are tipped to beat Bellville in one of the 16:00 games on Monday, they are likely to receive something of a rude awakening against Jeppe on Saturday.

Up in the Land of the Ostrich Brackenfell face a daunting task when they play Limpopo’s Ben Vorster, who feel confident (who wouldn’t say that about themselves ?) of clinching the provincial crown when they play Pietersburg later this year.  They must be very good or very stupid; the Pieties impressed everyone at TSRF 2016.

HTS Drostdy find themselves up against Bloemfontein’s Jim Fouché, who lost narrowly (25-35) to neighbours HTS Louis Botha last weekend.  However, in the interests of perspective, it should be noted that the latter went down heavily to Grey College not too long ago.  Bottom line ?  A Donkeys win.

Wednesday’s Boland trials at Trappespark only manage to throw up a couple of possible highlights.

Normally Hermanus would be tipped to give the Donkeys a good work out, but the Whalers suffered a disheartening 45-7 thrashing away to Swartland last week, so the feature match tag goes to Hugenote against ever-enterprising Montagu, even if the latter may be a few stars short with the Under 18 ruling for these games.

The most interesting fixture at Labori on Saturday could well turn out to be the 10:50 game between Groenberg and Bergrivier. The Apple-Farmers have a real matchwinner in centre Chantin Wildschut, while their Wellington opponents also set great store by their attacking prowess.

The main game at the Malmesbury trials on Monday, between hosts Swartland and Klein Nederburg should go the way of the hosts, but, when youngsters are out to make a last-ditch impression, anything goes !

Put some hand-cream on now; your paws are going to be doing a lot of clapping !