Paul Roos Face Fired-Up Farmers

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Scoring in style !  Boland Landbou's WP Academy Week flyhalf Janlu Steenkamp goes aerial to dot
down a great try during the 24-31 home defeat to Paarl Boys’ High in June. (photo: Carel Nel)

 

Two schools made it to the top of their Everests last Saturday, but, for all the rest, the heightened expectations and tension that accompany interschools derbies still lies ahead. 

In the feature game on Saturday 13 August 2016 Paul Roos welcome Boland Landbou to the Markotter for a match which serves little purpose but to prepare the protagonists for their days of reckoning a week later.  

The second round of the southern suburbs derbies sees Rondebosch head for Lovers Walk to play Wynberg and Bishops host effervescent SACS, while, up the Garden Route, Oakdale entertain Framesby in Riversdale

Just over the mountains Boland main-men HTS Drostdy will be using their game against another Eastern Cape side, HTS Daniel Pienaar, to finalize their line-up for next week’s trip to Brug Street where they will face a Boishaai team that, frightening as it may seem, could pose even more of a threat without its eight SA Schools caps.

As regards the Premier A log, Landbou’s only hope of climbing into third place depends on their securing a bonus point win (four tries), while denying their hosts one (the Farmers must win by more than seven points).

Largely irrelevant that, when the Young Maties have a date with Grey College in Bloemfontein looming on Saturday 20 August 2016, the same day that the Bulle of Oakdale hit Windmeul.

Just when everyone figured that Oloff Bergh’s team had got their ducks in a perfectly straight row, Wynberg pulled off the shock of the season by beating them 37-34 at Hawthornden two weeks ago.  In retrospect, Craig Childs’s proteges will end up being thanked profusely should the backlash see the Winelanders win their last two games.

The Landbou forwards are in peak condition, with captain Heinrich Brendel delivering every time, supported by a hefty, yet mobile unit.  The only absentee will be SA A player Athi Magwala, who might arguably not even have been selected and will still be on national duty next weekend.

The backline will be at full strength, WP Academy Week flyhalf Janlu Steenkamp having recovered from the mumps he contracted on the morning of the Wynberg match, which means that Duren Hoffman, whose trusty tee-work has been invaluable to Landbou virtually all season, will, in all likelihood return to the wing.

Durin Nasson has slotted in nicely outside Craven Week centre Henlo Maree, while the recent form of utility back Luther McKay means that the boys in black will retain their solid attacking shape.

On the other hand, Paul Roos have three prominent players away representing the two national sides.

OK, that shouldn’t rock the boat too much, right ?  Wrong.  Two of them are the locks Ben -Jason Dixon and Jesse Johnson, which means an untried pairing will take the field, but the third is flyhalf and tactical mastermind Damian Willemse.

Stef Jordaan can call on several second-rowers (Phillip van Dyk and Breyten Maritz spring to mind – nice pun), but finding an adequate replacement pivot for a player as influential as Willemse is going to be a tough ask, especially against a threequarter line as settled as the Farmers’. 

The rest of the hosts’ backline has been in fine try-scoring form.  Centres Aydon Topley and Lyle Hendricks and wingers David-Lee Moses and rising star Colia Louis aren’t going to stand back for anybody. Plus they have the ace-in-the-hole of Joshua Vermeulen at full-back.

Who wants it more ?  Will the respective management teams want to rest some players ? Those are just two of the questions that make this a really intriguing fixture.

Up to a few weeks ago nobody would have given Wynberg a chance against Rondebosch, even on home turf.  Now their great victory over Landbou significantly raises their prospects for a win.

There is no doubting the quality in the Berg squad, but the emotions surrounding the departure of coach Gus Leslie understandably played havoc with their gradual return to form. 

Dom Coetzer at flyhalf has shouldered more than his fair share of responsibility, contributing a healthy 40 points in their last two home matches and, if other dependables – such as flanks Callum Steyn and Cameron Bowes, locks Yanga Ngcayisa and Gideon Boshoff and Labib Kannemeyer and Siya Nombakuse out back – can all spark simultaneously, then something can still be salvaged from the remainder of the season.

Don’t expect Bosch to be charitable visitors.  If you’re looking for proof, cast an eye back a few weeks and you’ll notice their impressive showing at Brug Street.  In fact, they’ve only lost to the Big Four in seventeen matches and hammered Berg 29-8 in the first round.

Up front skipper Garth Shenker, a reinvigorated Matthew Grobler, Suhaib Ajmoodien, Devon Arendse and Zaka Salie have all earned praise for their efforts, but it has really been in the backline department that the team’s strength has been most evident.

Halfbacks Robbie Davis and Sam Cragg have served the quick men well, outside centre DJ Falconer emerging as an intelligent, graceful runner, while Mr Reliable Amani Minani flits around the fringes with his trademark hunched shoulders, wreaking havoc wherever he can.

But, and that’s a big one, I’m afraid, the magician in their stage-show has always been full-back Mike Mavovana, who has enthralled spectators everywhere since his excellent display against Outeniqua at the Markotter last year.

Bosch hardly looked threatening against humble Bellville until his late introduction finally galvanized them into action.  Well, obviously he also did enough to gain the admiration of the SA Schools selectors to the extent that he was rewarded with an SA Schools call-up.  Great for the school, but less so for the 1st XV, seeing that he won’t be there for the next two weeks.

The impartial observer might be forgiven for hoping that Wynberg continue their late spurt, but Bosch will be intent on getting their systems fully functional before their crucial (in terms of southern suburbs superiority) home outing against SACS next Saturday.

Speaking of the Young Ikeys, it’s a pleasure to see a team which espouses all that is good in the game – talented youngsters who uncomplainingly fill any role assigned to them, not because they feel forced to, but because they subscribe to the game plan of their coach, who is also a teacher, do so with unfailing pride and don’t resort to unseemly speculation regarding their selection (or non-selection) for higher honours– reaping the rewards of an excellent season.

Such screeds have been devoted to the impact Liam Larkan has had locally that it is perhaps time to single out a few of the other big men. 

Lance Steytler has happily adjusted to life on the flank, Alex Halvorsen continues to throw himself at opposing defences and captain James Brewer never fails to lead his men with maturity and the pride one associates with this school.

The young backline promises much for 2017.  Craven Week scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu, flyhalf David Hayes, outside centre Jordy “The Flying Dutchman” Hop and wing Zolani Masenbathe are all set to thrill crowds again next year.  Then again Nick Redelinghuys, Michael Ravenscroft and Michael Sutton have also all come to the party – frequently.  

Even on their hallowed Piley Rees Bishops have struggled to get their engine tuned finely enough to pose a threat to most local opponents.

They may have dispatched Wynberg 38-7 and outclassed Durbanville 5-10, but narrow home victories over Brackenfell (30-23) and an HTS Drostdy side that was still finding its feet (31-23) caused nervous twitches among the faithful. 

One could almost feel the fuel running out at the ISRF: Eton were easy meat (62-10), but Hilton (35-31) exposed gaps which Kingswood duly exploited (24-34), after which both Boland Landbou (19-47) and Paul Roos (24-42) have recorded disconcertingly comfortable away wins against the Platinum Blues. 

The problem is not that skipper Jean Pienaar, Seb Prentice, Luke Viljoen, Christian Stehlik, Byron Cranswick and the other forwards haven’t shown the required resolve or provided decent possession, it’s just that when they do, the backline has often been hesitant to use it. 

A Bishops backline in full flight is a wonder to behold – and the counterattacking skills of full-back Brandon van der Westhuizen have at least kept the flag flapping – but when it isn’t functioning fully, it can be spectacularly flat.

Centre Lubelo Scott did make the WP Craven Week squad and scrumhalf Harry Makin makes a nuisance of himself in all the right ways, but few other fast men have really stood out.

Hopefully, they will have utilised the past fortnight to recharge their batteries in order to end the season in style. 

With Outeniqua heading to Uitenhage to play Die Brandwag, the best on offer in the Land of the Eagles is Oakdale’s match against Framesby. 

The Bulls will be determined to put the wind up Boland Landbou ahead of next week’s Fun on the Farm and one fancies that Framesby will be doing a lot of defending, bearing in mind that Outeniqua whipped them 50-17 just two weeks ago in George.

In two local derbies Oudtshoorn host George and Langenhoven Gym welcome PW Botha.

There are also some attractive fixtures scheduled for the Boland this weekend.

If HTS Daniel Pienaar’s iffy performances at the Swartland Festival are anything to go by, the Donkeys should enjoy their meeting at Trappespark.

Young coach Renier de Villiers has forged Team Drostdy into a tight unit, which lacks absolutely nothing in the backline department, over the last few months.  As the ball proceeds from scrummie Romeo Eksteen to pivot Dimitri Moffat to Timothy Allies at centre and all the way to wings Jaun Witbooi and Bradley non Thura, the rising expectation of their home crowd is tangible.

Go and watch them; you are unlikely to be disappointed !

If this clash doesn’t appeal to you, neighbours Worcester Gym, who boast a similarly slick backline, will be defending their honour against Bredasdorp at Bosvarkpark a few clicks away.

Other platteland excitement features Swartland at home to Augsburg Gym and a potential thriller when Montagu host Charlie Hofmeyr. 

All four of these sides are enjoying very successful campaigns and, while two home wins appear likely, you can be sure that JP van Rhyn and Max Michau will never accept defeat without putting up mighty struggles first !

Just remember: the season is not winding down.  On the contrary, it is building up to the climaxes provided by all the traditional interschools games.