Bishops Face Paarl Gym Backlash

One Oli and two Adris.  SACS no.8 Oliver Schuurmans tries to halt the progress of Paarl Gym tighthead
Adriaan Staples (blonde hair, obscured) and lock Adriaan Ludick (centre) during the
Young Ikeys' 22-19 home win on Saturday 27 May 2017. (Photo: Warren Williams)


There’s still plenty of action around the Western Cape province on Saturday 3 June 2017, traditionally the last round of matches for schools in the Boland and most of the SWD, who then devote their attention to academic pursuits until the first week of the third term.

The highest profile fixtures are relatively few and far between, with Bishops vs Paarl Gym, Oakdale vs Paarl Boys’ High, Rondebosch vs Paul Roos and Stellenberg vs Boland Landbou sharing top billing.

The Premier B League feature match sees the very accomplished Brackenfell side host refreshingly successful DF Malan.  In the top Boland fare HTS Drostdy welcome Hugenote in the Donkeys’ first fixture at Trappespark in three weeks, while high fliers Charlie Hofmeyr and Hermanus visit Worcester Gym and Bredasdorp respectively, with both of the visiting sides expected to cruise home comfortably. 

The Platinum Blues might be forgiven for having mixed feelings about this week’s meeting with Paarl Gym on the impeccably-maintained Piley Rees.

Relief at playing in front of their home crowd after three successive weekends which have seen them visit such romantic venues as Worcester, Durbanville and Wynberg will be tempered by the awareness that their visitors will be doubly determined to register a convincing victory. 

If the memory of their surprise 35-32 defeat in this fixture two years ago isn’t sufficient motivation for Helmut Lehmann’s troops, the system shock of Saturday’s disastrous encounter at SACS in nearby Newlands – which saw them lose 19-22 after leading 19-0 at the break – is sure to fill the Northern Paarl unit with grim determination.

The 72-14 doddle Bishops enjoyed against Durbanville was quickly forgotten as they had to pull out all the stops to edge Wynberg 24-20, a welcome splash of cold water that will have served to remind them of the reality of Premier A rugby: there is no such thing as an easy game.

Gym has had to do without several top players for a variety of reasons.  Hopefully, their return will mean that they will be able to field their best fifteen for the first time in three weeks. 

They can’t afford even to give the appearance of not being ready for a home team that seems to have turned a corner with the relocation of Ross Goodwin to scrumhalf.  The backline has been moving far more fluently, while the forwards have shown a fire and eagerness that has been noticeably absent for long periods in recent years.

There can be little doubt that this is going to be a very tense encounter.

What present do you give people who already have everything they could possibly want?  Difficult one, that, but for Boishaai the return of sublimely talented Eric Myburgh behind the pack is as much of a bonus as the youngsters from Auret Street need. 

To celebrate his return to the team, the nuggety scrumhalf dotted down both tries against Paul Roos in Saturday’s muddy Derby at Brug Street.  Together with brilliant no.8 Francke Horn at no.8 and classy flyhalf Abner Van Reenen, flyhalf, Myburgh’s presence simply provided the cherry on the top of a lethal combination.

It is unheard of for Oakdale to disappoint their adoring spectators at their annual Akkerfees celebration, but the arrival of Boishaai represents an additional problem to a side struggling for form.

Local trials and a succession of poor results, including a sobering 13-24 home loss to HTS Drostdy, means that their emphatic 40-19 thrashing of Garsfontein on day two of Wildeklawer represents the side’s only victory for the Bulls since their own festival in the first week of April.

Hopefully, they will be able to overturn this losing run come Saturday, but the dice are heavily loaded against this happening.  And, if this match isn’t punishment enough, next week they head to the Markotter to face fellow strugglers Paul Roos.

Maybe their results don’t quite plumb the same depths, but Rondebosch has also suffered a disturbing run of late.

Since their convincing 34-13 win against Wynberg at Hawthornden, they have – the 40- 12 trouncing of Tygerberg apart – faltered dramatically, contriving to lose 32-34 to Hugenote, almost blowing a big lead before staving off a very average Bellville side and suffering crushing blows at the hands of Paarl Boys’ High (7-73) and lower-league Stellenberg (33-21).

More was expected of this side before the commencement of hostilities and they looked good when beating Pietersburg 50-3 at TSRF 2017, but the arrival of Paul Roos doesn’t fill the neutral observer with confidence regarding their immediate future.

Then again, the Young Maties haven’t enjoyed much of a tailwind of late, a 29-24 nailbiter at the expense of hosts SACS being their only reason to smile over the last month.

They’ve got the goods all right, but scorecards dominated by the exploits of teeman Colia Louis don’t make for happy reading.  They need to put in a very workmanlike performance at Bosch on Saturday to build up vital momentum before the arrival of Oakdale next Saturday.

Current form favours Paul Roos – but look where that got Paarl Gym last week!

Boland visits Stellenberg well aware that their last domestic away game saw them lose at SACS.  And if the let’s call it the tension between the sides isn’t already a volcano in waiting, the luring back to Stellenberg of flank AJ Rossouw from the Farm won’t have calmed things down much.

While Landbou put the Framesby debacle behind them with the emphatic 62-17 pummeling of Wynberg a week later, they can be forgiven for regarding this match as little more than a final warm-up for the double whammy with which they end the term: Gym at Windmeul (10 June) and Boishaai at Brug Street (24 June).

Those parts which were malfunctioning have been fixed and one can expect Oloff Bergh’s lads to fire on all cylinders, with the form and influence of flyhalf Darren Hendricks sure to play a major part in proceedings.

Stellenberg is currently in a very good place.  Their last three fixtures, all at home, have seen them defeat Outeniqua, De Kuilen and Rondebosch on successive weekends.  At the same time, the number of Stellies troops still in the WP Under 18 mix reflects the success of their long-term self-improvement strategy. 

The back of the scrum is more often than not the determining factor in such closely-fought encounters so the tussle between the Jade Brigade’s tough-as-nails no. 9 Jacques van Biljon and young Nivan Petersen and the Farmers’ young pairing of Gavin Mills and Darren Hendricks might go a long way to determining the winners.

As for the remaining two Premier A outfits: SACS take their special brand of magic up to Durbanville on Saturday, while the Wynberg 1st XV can sit back and watch the school's other sides take on visitors Parel Vallei.

DF Malan’s impressive run of success faces its sternest test to date when they head off to play a Brackenfell side that has an equally impressive CV and in addition, boasts several players still vying for places in the WP Under 18 teams for the inter-provincial weeks in Joburg in July.

To be honest, the opponents DF have faced don’t really come close to those with which the Brakke have had to deal.  One suspects that it will take a lot more than great team spirit and an experienced coach for the Bellville side firstly to secure their fair share of possession in the tight and loose exchanges and then to outflank their hosts’ potent backline.

HTS Drostdy returns to their home turf with a sigh of relief as they welcome a Hugenote side that, like their next opponents Tygerberg in Parow on 10 June, doesn’t seem to pose as much of a problem as some of the teams they’ve had to face on the road recently.

An underrated pack and a crackerjack back division ensure that no-one leaves the field after playing the Donkeys without knowing they’ve been through a tough ordeal.  Come Saturday night, the Blackies will be able to say that they came and saw, but conquered?  I’m afraid not...

If Swartland put 40+ on Langenhoven Gym last weekend in Oudtshoorn, one can only fear for the home side when reinvigorated Outeniqua cross the pass on Saturday.  Their neighbours, the Struisies, have also got a good reason to be apprehensive when Uitenhage’s HTS Daniel Pienaar pitch up. 

Next week’s highlights?  Boland Landbou vs Paarl Gym, Bishops vs Paarl Boys’ High, Paul Roos vs Oakdale and Rondebosch vs SACS.  Something for everybody, right?

In closing, let me apologise if my last preview piece created the impression that Stellenberg went into last Saturday’s match against Rondebosch without ever having beaten a southern suburbs 1st XV.  

This was meant to refer only to this year’s results.  

Rondebosch themselves have reminded me that the Stellies have beaten them on several occasions in the recent past.  As a result, I have amended the title of the article.

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