Going Shopping In Paarl ? You’d Better Walk !

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Just about free !  DF Malan centre Carlo Geyer breaks through an attempted tackle
by a Durbanville opponent during last Saturday’s match.  The Durbies won
30-21 away from home. (photo courtesy of Brakkies Sport Fotos)

Saturday 20 August 2016. The time of reckoning is upon us as we finally find out who gets to eat the Interschools derby carrots which have been dangling tantalisingly in front of whole school communities all season.

Teams who have had successful campaigns have a chance to put the seal on their legacy, while those who have struggled will consider victory in this single game as representing at the very least partial redemption for a disappointing year.

Plus there are all the preparations to be made to ensure the success of the event, not least of which are the ever-popular sing-songs in the school hall for hours on end, meaning that the Big Day comes as something like Christmas in August.

Fittingly perhaps, given the success of the two local giants and their players at national level this season, the spotlight will be on Paarl and its immediate surroundings with several huge clashes scheduled. 

Pick of the day must be Boland Landbou against Oakdale at the Farm, although Brug Street features quite a programme – Paarl Boys’ High vs HTS Drostdy, followed by the final three matches of the International Schools Series – and Paarl Gym face a tough closing fixture with Outeniqua visiting Lemoenkloof.

Just for good local measure Labori and Paulus Joubert host Bosmansdam and Noorder-Paarl respectively, while Hugenote welcome Swartland out in Wellington !

Elsewhere SACS travel to Rondebosch for what could be a southern suburbs crown decider and Bishops visit Hawthornden for their return match against Wynberg, while second tier derby action pits Bellville against DF Malan.  Stellenberg entertain Tygerberg in a league match ahead of both sides’ interschools matches on 27 August. 

And don’t forget that Paul Roos also have a date with Grey College in Bloemfontein !

The Young Maties are really going to have to pull a whole colony of rabbits out of the hat if they are to win this one. 

The one potentially bright light is the way the redeployment of full-back Joshua Vermeulen to flyhalf against Boland Landbou last weekend changed their fortunes to such an extent that they scored 22 unanswered points in the latter stages of the match to reduce their deficit to a slightly more acceptable 22-32 margin. 

As if being without Damian Willemse, Ben-Jason Dixon and Jesse Johnson isn’t tough enough, their hosts will be hell bent on avenging their 12-19 defeat to the Maroons in the Eikestad last August.

No doubt about it: this is going to be a tough, er, acorn for the Maroons to crack.

Determined to put the disappointment of their shock 34-37 loss at Wynberg a week earlier behind them, Boland Landbou ran up a 32 point lead before allowing Paul Roos back into the match last Saturday, not that that will in any way detract from the Farmers winning at the Markotter for the first time in fourteen years !

The ease with which some of the backs were able to change positions when required last Saturday bodes well, especially when one considers that three of them – Duren Hoffman, Durin Nasson and Luther McKay – who have contributed 257 points (thirty tries, forty conversions and nine penalties) to the team’s cause this campaign, will be back in black in 2017.

Family commitments and injuries meant that Oakdale could not field their best line-up against Framesby, only winning the match 31-21.  However, everyone, except for long-term injury Alexander Wallace and SA A cap Zinedine Booysen, is expected to be fit and ready for the big day.  The return of Jay-Cee Nel in the midfield and star full-back Darren Adonis will be particularly welcome.

Paarl Boys’ High are likely to hold far too many aces for HTS Drostdy, even though more than half of the home team will consist of borderline 1st XV or 2nd XV players.

However, defending the flagship side’s unbeaten record might not be quite as easy as it seems at first glance.  The Donkeys have a very nippy backline, which is excellently marshalled by half-backs Romeo Eksteen and Dimitri Moffat, and their pack includes formidable competitors in skipper Albert Liebenberg and lock Bron-Lee Mouries.

Please note that the match will be played comparatively early, at around 10:15, as the International Schools Festival takes centre stage around lunch-time.

Paarl Gym made an emphatic statement when they shredded hapless Primrose RFC 117-0 on Saturday. 

Hurting from the 25-26 Interschools setback, they have resolved to show that they aren’t just going to lie down and sulk.  They may be missing the two Mullers, but what they have is going to provide a very stern test to visitors Outeniqua.  The two Wians – van Niekerk and van Zyl – will be primed to explode by the sublime half-back pairing of Zak Burger and Theo Boshoff.

There will be a heavy weight of expectation on the Quaggas’ inside centre JP Duvenage, who recently celebrated his 50th1st XV outing with an emphatic 30 point haul.  He is, of course, not the problem, which is, in a nutshell, that the team hasn’t clicked as a whole often enough, if ever.

Flyhalf Darryle Kameel and utility back Damian Bonaparte have both contributed sporadically and few can criticize the commitment of tough men Lance Lamprecht, Sean Swart and Franco Boshoff up front, but nothing short of a 100% 15-man effort is going to stem the Gimmies in front of their home fans on the final day of their season.  Scrumhalf Ashwill Galant's season will unfortunately be missing, having suffered a broken wrist against Die Brandwag in Uitenhage last weekend.

As if they need further motivation for a southern suburbs derby, Rondebosch are fully aware that a better result than their 28-28 draw away to SACS three months ago will quite possibly ensure that they retain the local crown – presuming, of course, that Bishops don’t notch cricket scores against them and Wynberg.

Garth Shenker leads a workmanlike if unspectacular side that hasn’t realized its full potential in local derbies this year.  With his fellow loose forwards Hylton Goatley and Cheyne Robertson  unrelenting in the hunt for possession, much will depend on halfbacks Robbie Davis and Sam Cragg to get the best out of the backs, who can’t disguise the absence of fast man Mike Mavovana due to international duties.

Up to last Saturday SACS would have been odds-on favourites, but the comprehensive 43-28 hiding dished up to them by Bishops must have raised some serious self-doubt.

They have no particular weakness, which makes the Piley Rees affair all the more strange, but word has it that they were simply outclassed on the day by a Bishops side that seemed to have recaptured what appeared to be a waning appetite.

Knowing Graeme Wepener’s squad, it is a given that, having discussed and accepted the blame as a group, they will simply pull themselves together and endeavour to rectify matters against Bosch.

The likelihood of talented players like Liam Larkan, Lance Steytler, Alex Halvorsen and respected captain James Brewer up front slipping up again are very slight and, once the ball gets as far as mercurial Jordy Hop at outside centre, unexpected things can – and quite often do – happen.

If Bishops can reprise last week’s display when they visit Wynberg up at Hawthornden, the stage could be set for a battle royal. 

Although both sides appear to have recovered from recent troughs, Wynberg’s renaissance, signalled with that outstanding 37-34 win over Boland Landbou, is definitely the more remarkable, bearing in mind their very ordinary season thus far. 

Rondebosch didn’t have it all their own way last Saturday and the current good form of flank Callum Steyn and flyhalf Dom Coetzer may well be just the flame that ignites another Berg mini-revival.

The Platinum Blues have had the wherewithal to produce the goods all along, the only real surprise about Saturday’s healthy 43-28 win over SACS being that it took them so long to lay out their stall.

The reliable partnership between wiry Harry Makin and James Macdonald behind the scrum is crucial to giving the outside backs the opportunity to strut their stuff, but, in order to set them in motion, they have to rely on the pack to supply them with clean ball.  Nonetheless, the six tries scored last weekend seems to indicate that very few fingers are being pointed.

Most psychologists will tell you that the greatest obstacle to success is oneself.  Simplified and translated into sporting terminology, that might read: if you forget how unsuccessful you may recently have been, then, chances are, you’ll actually get things right. 

One certainly hopes so as everybody will tell you that schools rugby in the province needs a concerted challenge to the status quo by the southern suburbs quartet.

The most intriguing of all the other scheduled derbies could well be DF Malan’s visit to Bellville. Last year DF were on a hiding to nothing against a juggernaut Lions team, but performed heroically to lose by a respectable seven points, 20-27. 

This time the boot is on the other poot, so to speak, and the inspired form of several key players, not least of them loose-forward-turned-centre Carlo Geyer have seen them punctuate some disappointing results with notable away wins against Tygerberg and Hugenote.

Bellville have never really got going this season and are unlikely to get the chance to rectify the situation, come the weekend.

A very spirited encounter is expected at Murrayfield in Wellington when traditional rivals Hugenote and Swartland of Malmesbury clash in the Boland highlight.

The form book suggests that the visitors should win, but reality doesn’t always concur.

Last week the Blackies did a latter-stage self-combustion act against Brackenfell, turning a 12-0 deficit into a 26-12 lead and then going off the boil to lose 32-26.

Even if Hugenote could claim that one player, WP Craven Week back Quan Eymann, was largely responsible for the late change in the Brakkies’ fortunes, they should be well aware that, were it not for the efforts of the Kiewit twins and Stephan Theron in the front row and the impressive contribution of lock Ethan Haas, the home team would have cruised home a lot more comfortably.

Scoring tries and racking up points from the tee have come easily to the Rockies this season, but even they found the going tough at home against Augsburg Gym last week. 

The bare facts will tell you that they prevailed 24-17, but the worrisome lack of form shown by Craven Week kicker Anton du Toit, which resulted in the tee eventually being handed to scrumhalf Keagan Johannes, might just have the coaches looking for the headache pills !

The juiciest of the other Boland clashes see Augsburg Gym travel to Vredendal and Hermanus host Overberg.  

The first of these is invariably a tough physical battle, characterised by lots of effort and few points, but the Ovies’ great season leads one to believe that they might harpoon the Whalers on their own field.

In case you thought this means a cessation of hostilities in the Boland, take a look at the Fixtures section for news of the Steinhoff Maties Top Schools Day at Coetzenburg on 27 August.  The good news never stops, right ?