Too Much Schools Rugby ? Never !

SACMC 40

Why don’t you just use the steps ? SACS captain James Brewer soars high above a line-out in
his side’s 27-20 win over Maritzburg College last Saturday. (photo: Sharon Laurenson)

As if you haven’t already feasted to your hearts’ content, there is lots of excitement in store for the schools rugby faithful on Saturday 7 May 2016.

At the outset, please note that Paarl Boys’ High will not be playing Grey College on Saturday 7 May; the Bloemfontein side will be taking on Affies on that date.  Boishaai will in fact be hosting Grey on Saturday 21 May at Brug Street.  My apologies for any inconvenience caused.

However, all the other the WP Premier A teams will be in action as Boland Landbou welcome Rondebosch, Bishops visit SACS, Paarl Gym bring their own brand of fireworks to Wynberg and Paul Roos head for the northern suburbs to face new kids on the big block, Stellenberg. 

Just across the mountains, it’s crunch time at Trappespark as HTS Drostdy prepare to re-establish their local dominance against fierce rivals Worcester Gym, while the SWD schools enjoy a week off ahead of some epic encounters.

The Farmers always seem to find a way to up their game when the southern suburbs schools visit Windmeul, a trend their supporters will be hoping continues on Saturday.  The Landbou backline didn’t display its usual sparkle – or even spark, come to think of it – up in Kimberley, leading to/because of a degree of tinkering.

Janlu Steenkamp, Henlo Marais and Duren Hoffman are all capable of delivering the goods served up by wily scrumhalf Deon Carstens, but their ideal positions seem still to be up for discussion.

Rondebosch might not boast a big-name backline, but they are nothing if not clinical when given half a chance.

The threat posed by Mike Mavovana and Amani Minani is well known, but outside centre DJ Falconer served notice of his abilities, even without injured midfield partner Van der Bijl Blake alongside him, with a three-try haul against KES.  Also, versatile Sam Cragg – a flyhalf who did duty at inside centre and full-back at Wynberg – has become an ominously reliable kicker.

Up front Heinrich Brendel and company should see to it that Landbou dominate, but they would be well advised to keep an eye on Bosch’s energetic hooker Suhaib Ajmoodien, a WP Grant Khomo cap in 2015, whose work rate in all phases marks him as a star of the future. 

The head says Landbou; the heart, Bosch.  Either way, it shouldn’t be a walk-over !

The second match in the first round of the southern suburbs derbies takes place up in Newlands where SACS welcome Bishops.

Bishops only produced their inspiring trademark running rugby in brief snatches at Wynberg, looking much better against Jeppe than many had anticipated, but still making some basic errors that their opponents for Saturday will have noted.

Perhaps the only backline player to do himself any real credit was plucky left wing Ross Goodwin, who battled in vain every time he got the ball.  The rest just made a few mistakes too many, both individually and as a unit.

In contrast, the Young Ikeys’ threequarters are in a very good place.  Halfbacks Lucky Dlepu and David Hayes have built up a great understanding, which means centres Nick Redelinghuys and the enigmatic Jordy Hop have a degree of freedom to showcase their skills.  Wings Michael Ravenscroft and Xolani Masenbathe aren’t that shabby, either.

The return to action of hooker Lance Steytler has meant that Liam Larkan can revert to the side of the scrum and resume his partnership with powerful number 8 Alex Halvorsen, supporting locks James Brewer and lofty Cameron Laurenson, who have been garnering more than their fair share of line-out and tight-loose possession.   

Although Bishops have a reliable hooker in Jason Hofmeyr and locks Christian Stehlik and Byron Cranswick never fail to impress, the loose trio is still struggling to come to terms with the pre-season loss of captain François Stassen.  Seb Prentice and Jean Pienaar may not want when it comes to dedication, but their size does them no favours.

SACS look good for a win, but there’s nothing stopping the Platinum Blue flame from igniting again on Saturday.

Wynberg may have put in two reassuring performances at their recent festival, but they are going to need a whole lot more than that if they are to pose any sort of threat to a Paarl Gym side that hit the ground running in March and hasn’t shown much sign of stopping ever since.

Unlike their three markedly less flamboyant Winelands neighbours, Gym have earned much praise for an expansive attacking style born of remarkable self-confidence.  It goes without saying that their team has no discernible weak points, which makes the Berg’s job that much harder.

The slick backline is superbly marshalled by halfbacks Zak Burger and Theo Boshoff.  Centres Wian van Niekerk and Christopher Willemse maintain a sharp edge in midfield, which creates ample opportunities for electric left wing Muller du Plessis and incisive full back Wian van Zyl to wreak their special brand of havoc.

The pack isn’t short of powerhouses, either.  No. 8 Muller Uys is an indefatigable workhorse, be it on attack or in defence, and the big men in front of him, including Adriaan Ludick, François Staples and André Booysen ensure a continuous supply of quality possession from the tight phases.  As for the position of hooker, just bear in mind that it was their third-choice no. 2 Michael Houndsome who stepped up to score against Boland Landbou !

On the other hand, the hosts rely largely on an unquenchable team spirit which has largely seen through some tough assignments this season.

When captain Steve Mathew and fellow loose forward Callum Steyn are both available, their combined efforts cannot be ignored, while lock Yanga Ngcayisa becomes stronger with every outing.

With a year of top level experience behind him, flyhalf Dom Coetzer is making his mark, but the redeployment of his half-back partner Labib “Happy Feet” Kannemeyer to a variety of different backline roles, is not making his job any easier.

Gym will take this one comfortably, one fears.

The upward path of Stellenberg has been applauded by most lovers of the schoolboy game this year, irrespective of the fact that, so far, their path so far has been relatively free of obstacles. Reality kicks in on Saturday – bigtime – with the arrival of Paul Roos on the Jade Brigade’s postage-stamp field.

Despite losing scrumhalf Ricardo Duarttee just before Wildeklawer, Divan Batt’s team gave a very good account of themselves in Kimberley, beating Noord-Kaap and just failing to edge out Garsfontein.

The return of Lance Jurgens and the try-scoring antics of Angelo Davids on the wings, abetted by the slick midfield of François du Plessis and Fouché van Rooyen, has been a major boost as far as keeping the scoreboard ticking over is concerned, as has been the place-kicking of pivot Ruben Scholtz.  Then there’s experienced campaigner Evert Carstens to bolster their confidence from the back.

The forwards don’t boast many name players, but loosehead Chad Crathorne and no. 8 Daneel Kellerman can both look back on the successful 2015 campaign.

Even though they may have lost one more game than their hosts, Paul Roos won’t be countenancing being cowed into submission by the Stellies.

Just the presence of full-back Joshua Vermeulen and flyhalf Damian Willemse is enough to send shivers down the opposition’s spines and elegant runners Lyle Hendricks and David-Lee Moses have put on the shoes so spectacularly filled last season by Maroon heroes Nico Leonard, Kristoff Baard and Troy Payne.

The pack has a very compact look to it.  One can pretty well throw out a blanket and expect it to cover hooker Daneel Steinman, locks Ben-Jason Dixon and Phillip van Dyk, flank Hanré du Toit and no. 8 Bruce Coetzee.   

One can’t blame the Young Maties for a fixture list that handed them Menlopark and HTS Middelburg, both ably dealt with in Kimberley last weekend.  Don’t expect them to be resting on their laurels on Saturday !

HTS Drostdy are expected to snatch the central Boland bragging rights for 2016 when they host archrivals Worcester Gym at Trappespark.

The steadying influence provided by the half-back pairing of Dimitri Moffat and Lynthen Barties has given freer rein to Timothy Allies at outside centre and try-scoring (17 and counting) sensation left wing Bradley von Turha.

Despite missing last year’s trumpcard Adriaan van der Bank, the Bosvarke have been going along on their merry way this season.  Regrettably, the Donkeys will be intent on seeing that this state of affairs doesn’t continue.

The most interesting matches in the Boland appear to be Porterville’s visit to Clanwilliam to face in-form Augsburg Gym and the Overberg-Charlie Hofmeyr match-up in Caledon.

In closing, a plus – the Team and Scorers Stats are up as promised – and a minus – fixture-wise, we passed the halfway mark in the season on Monday.  Oh well, you can’t have it all !