Can Boishaai Derail The Grey Freight Train ?


On the rise!  DF Malan flank Ruan de Beer secures line-out possession in his team’s
17-7 home victory over Strand last weekend.  The Bellville side is enjoying its
best start to a season for several years. (photo: Johan van Tonder)


If last Saturday’s televised games didn’t convince you of the excitement value provided by the schoolboy game, there is a whole host of top-flight matches scheduled for Saturday 13 May 2017, both in and around the Mother City, just waiting to twist your arm.

The return of the SWD schools to competitive activity following their traditional early-May weekend of trials means that the programme runs to thirty matches, making it one of the busiest days in the last few years.

Regrettably, the match that is bound to attract the most interest takes place in Bloemfontein, where the Grey College machine will be facing one of the greatest WP threats to its current national supremacy, Paarl Boys’ High.

There is a school of thought that believes that he Winelanders cannot possibly keep up their extraordinarily consistent form, which encompasses eleven games in two time-zones in a few days short of six weeks. 

Such is their wealth of talent that no fewer than 21 players have contributed to their astonishing total of 521 points.  They have cover wherever they need it, but hardly anybody would disagree that their current kingpins are brilliant no.8 Francke Horn and versatile back Abner van Reenen.

They are perfectly suited to go one better than Affies did last weekend, provided they can maintain their stamina.  Nothing suggests that they won’t, but their hosts are renowned for exploiting the tiniest cracks in their opposition.

You can get the best of both worlds by recording the game from 13:50 on DSTV 210 while you get out to watch another local thriller.

Out on the Farm, Boland Landbou welcome Framesby, traditionally one of the Eastern Cape’s  powerhouses.

The early season has dealt Landbou a couple of tough hands, not least the loss of centre Durin Nasson for the whole season.  However, this setback has been balanced out to some extent by the recent return – with a four-try bang – of Duren Hoffman on the wing. 

With some of the heavy boys are also regaining their fitness, the plentiful amount of clean possession filtering through the capable hands of scrum-half Gavin Mills and rising star Darren Hendricks at pivot should make for another rousing display.

There are very few teams who play a more balanced game than the Farmers and the fact that they don’t have an unbeaten record to protect will only serve as further motivation to enchant their faithful following.

If reports are to be believed Bishops suddenly got their act together in style at home to SACS on Saturday. 

Encouraging as that news may be, they are going to need to repeat that performance with a whole lot of added extras if they are to avoid a swift, painful kick from the Donkeys in Worcester.

With the Boland Grant Khomo side that beat WP last year contained many of their youngsters, it is hardly surprising that HTS Drostdy have put together a truly stunning outfit;

While they have the wherewithal to scare anyone up front, it is the backline that crackles with thrilling electricity.  Scrumhalf Romeo Eksteen and fly-half Shaun Baxter, stars in their own right, pave the way for Berto le Roux and Christie Grobbelaar, two large, intelligent centres.  And Keanu Mong on the one wing and jack-in-the-box no.15 Cohen Jasper are anything but mere decorations.

If the Platinum Blues win this one, it will be a major surprise.

Never has the time been more ripe, especially at home, for SACS to pull one over on their traditional arch-rivals Paul Roos, whose agonisingly close defeat against Grey High in Port Elizabeth last weekend must have left them feeling a bit deflated.

Try as they might, the big lads in the Young Maties pack couldn’t put their stamp on proceedings, something which will not have escaped Nick Maurer and the SACS coaching staff.

The Young Ikeys have achieved a really nicely balanced style of play, evidence of which showed in their spirited fightback at Bishops, even without midfield dynamo Jordy Hop. 

Centre Chad van der Loo and wing Aaron Zeederberg are making huge strides (sorry about the pun) in local circles, thanks to the steady grafting of their workmanlike pack, in which Ethan Burger, Anathi Kalipa, Sujai Ikemefuna and Storm Balchin repeatedly catch the eye, and astute half-backs Lucky Dlepu and David Hayes.

Paul Roos will be hoping that the likes of Philip van Dyk and Breyten Maritz can establish some forward dominance for Rufus Dercksen, Brendan Venter, Remy Engelbrecht, Regan van der Westhuizen and Colia Louis to translate into scoreboard pressure.

Another really close one, this.

Don’t read too much into the fact that hosts Stellenberg took the weekend off, while this week’s prey, Outeniqua, were involved in their local trials.

The Jade Brigade must be quietly confident that they will be able to field a reasonably fresh squad, bolstered by the recent return of scrumhalf Jacques van Biljon.  Their forwards are miserly when it comes to giving up turn-over possession, and, with flyhalf Nivan Petersen growing with every game, their backline is proving more and more of a handful.

The rest of the three quarters are happy to let right wing Angelo Davids hog the headlines; it just relaxes the pressure on them a fraction.  Steph Marais, Leeuwner van der Merwe and Roché Malan will be more than happy to attack the vulnerable Quaggas, while tall Ryan Brown has settled in at full-back.

The visitors might have stunning age-group sides, but even their most ardent supporters will agree that the flagship squad is a couple of cannons short of a man-of-war.

Divan Batt and Corné Kannemeyer should be beaming, come Saturday evening.  

Since Oakdale and Paarl Gym will be enjoying out weekends and Rondebosch entertain a bruised and battered (by Boland Landbou) Bellville side, the last major feature that needs addressing is the Hawthornden meeting between Wynberg and Grey High.

While the visitors raised their profile considerably by edging out Paul Roos in Port Elizabeth last Saturday, the ever-optimistic supporters of the lads from Lovers Walk are still waiting for proof positive that their team is going to deliver at least some of the goods this campaign.

To be brutally honest, the signs are not that good.  While the forwards set about their task with their characteristic energy, the fruits of their labours tend to be far too diluted by the time the ball gets to centres Chris Colborne and Ryan Biscombe, the lads who should be causing opposition defences headaches.

The result can be seen in their scorers.  Eighthman Cameron Bowes has a commendable eight tries, but the only other notable contributors are the kickers David Botha and Di Livio van Wyk.  Next, comes hooker Jason Alexander with just three five-pointers.

This traditional weekend, which encompasses virtually every winter code and the odd summer one too, has grown in strength over its relatively short existence, but the Berg would happily pass up the opportunity right now, especially after their 67-25 hammering at Brug Street.    

Even the local second-tier fare features a potential humdinger. 

Neither Durbanville nor visitors Brackenfell have been letting the grass grow beneath their boots this season. 

The addition of no.15 Raven Smith has added depth to an already-capable Brackenfell backline, who have had to cope with the frustrating niggles plaguing star pivot Quan Eymann.  If the flyhalf is fit for the weekend, it will enhance the chances of their winning, although the likes of Jade-Lee Andreas, Waylin Booysen and Marcquin Titusback should pose enough of a threat to keep the Durbies honest.

The home side has its own talisman in flyhalf Jean Aucamp, who also spearheads a dynamic group of three quarters just itching to torment the Brakke.  Their key men are likely to be full-back John Mentoor, centres Dennian du Toit and Juanré de Klerk and wide runners Hugo Tredoux and Cole Fisher.

Come to think of it, the result could depend on forward dominance, in which case the Brakke eight is arguably the better equipped, given the form of Sean-D van Binsbergen, Jean-Luke Human, Jeanne-Pierre Vorster and Jean-Louis de Lange.

Will this be a battle for the second spot behind Stellenberg in the WP Premier B standings or could both sides have their sights set higher?   

There are three Boland matches which could prove extremely interesting.

Impressive Hopefield visit Porterville, whose side has been in similarly devastating form this winter, the Wesbank grounds hosts the FNB Classic Clash between Schoonspruit and Piketberg, both of whom have upped their games of late and the seaside derby between Vredenburg and Weston looks like being a lot closer than it has been for some time.

Don’t overexert yourself.  Next Saturday Boishaai comes to Rondebosch, Paarl Gym welcome Oakdale, HTS Drostdy aim for an SWD away double at Outeniqua, Wynberg head for the Farm and SACS and Bishops prepare to negotiate the potential banana-skins of visits to Brackenfell and Durbanville respectively.

Hey, the fun just never stops!

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