Mac attack ! Bishops flyhalf James Macdonald dots down in his team’s 35-31 victory against Hilton
during the 2016 Independent Schools Rugby Festival in July. (photo: Thys Lombard)
There was quite a bit of mid-week action, despite the interference of Voting Day, as many of the Boland sides tried to work in local league fixtures as the end of the season approaches.
That said, it was two games that fall outside that category that lured yours truly out of the comfort of his home.
The annual clash between Swartland and Tygerberg clash on Thursday 4 August 2016 in Malmesbury, probably the highest profile fixture of the lot, lived up to local expectations as the hosts comprehensively outplayed their opponents in most facets of play, running out 29-14 winners.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the fifteenth minute when burly tighthead Handré Jooste forced his way over near the left corner. Fullback Tiaan Henecke raised the flags to give the Tygers a 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later Boland Academy Week lock Wihan Burger broke through a maul and dashed twenty metres to dot down. Centre Anton du Toit levelled the scores from the tee and then put the hosts 10-7 up five minutes later with a simple penalty.
The Rockies underlined their ascendancy with two more breakaway tries, by flank Coellin Julius and no. 8 and captain Charlie Burger, as the Parow side struggled to marshal its defence against the well-drilled Swartland side.
Du Toit converted Gerber’s try right on the half-time whistle, giving his side a 22-7 advantage.
Exchanges were somewhat more evenly contested in the second half, the Tygers still seeming to be acting individually rather than putting together co-ordinated moves. This increasingly exposed their defensive shortcomings, particularly in the backline where Du Toit was forever probing and creating gaps.
The Rockies’ fourth and final try, in the 42nd minute, was beautifully executed. After a quick counter-attack wide on the left, Du Toit received the ball right on the touchline, but lengthened his stride to outpace and round the desperate cover defence to dive over in the corner. His conversion took the score to 29-7.
Driven, one imagines, by a degree of desperation, the visitors finally got a large part of their act together at this stage and shaded the latter stages.
However, only Tiaan Henecke could breach the home defence, albeit with a brilliant run, which started on the halfway line in the course of which he beat half the Swartland team with his acceleration and mesmerizing footwork. He added the extra two points to narrow the deficit to fifteen points, 14-29, which proved to be the final score.
Martin Dyason’s lads are in a very comfortable place right now, only the front row failing to dominate exchanges, but will want to iron out a few kinks in their game-plan before the Interschools meeting with Hugenote in Wellington in two weeks’ time.
It is of some significance that all but the last of their four of their tries came from breakaways by individual players rather than as the result of creative attacking platforms. While it is difficult to blame them for taking advantage of those defensive lapses, rugby is a team game and requires good combined play to satisfy the discerning spectator.
Tygerberg, on the other hand, have quite a lot of work to do if they are to pose any kind of threat to form-team Brackenfell at the end of the month. The most worrisome aspect must be their inability to support the man in possession at crucial moments.
The above match may well have enjoyed more attention, but the Stellenbosch vs Parel Vallei clash two days earlier proved a real eye-opener in its own right.
Just as the Stellies are used to living their lives in the shadow of neighbours Paul Roos, so their midweek visitors from Somerset West are accustomed to having to cope with a disturbing outflow of talent to that same institution.
The dramatic rugby transformation that has occurred at Parel Vallei over the last few years has been a talking point around the Peninsula recently. Such has been their success ratio that they have actually applied for – and may well receive – Premier B status sooner rather than later.
Not content with the school garnering attention only for their remarkable matric exams results every year, headmaster Dave Schenck has, since taking up the reins three and a half years ago, encouraged all role-players to challenge their comfort zones and aim for greatness in as many different spheres as possible.
With the inspired appointment of Thinus Pienaar as the school’s first master in charge of rugby, it’s not surprising that sparks have been visible in the vicinity on a pretty regular basis of late !
Their performance against Stellenbosch was a pleasant surprise. Their slick direct approach spoke of a dedication and tactical nous rarely found in the third tier.
After having gone behind – very much against the run of play – to a fine individual try by Boland Craven Week utility back Hanreco van Zyl and a penalty by scrumhalf Melkeano Davids, they had reduced the deficit to one point, 7-8 by the change-over, thanks to a great team try finished off by flyhalf Jason Oliemans and converted by outside entre Emile Booyens.
Parel Vallei then pulled ahead when hooker Werner Bock crossed the whitewash, leaving Booyens an easy conversion, and looked to have made the result safe with a third five-pointer by full-back Barend Marais.
The hosts weren’t quite finished yet and Van Zyl showed another flash of individual brilliance to put his side within striking distance, but that’s the way it stayed, leaving the Somerset West side 19-13 winners.
With half the team back next year, it’s unwise to bet against a continued upward trend in their progress.
While we are focussing on Boland schools rugby, it would be unforgivable of me not to mention the outstanding success enjoyed by Paulus Joubert. This Paarl school, under Boland Craven Week coach Athol Ontong, has enjoyed a superb run, losing only once since TSRF 2016, 7-22 to Vredendal early in May.
It comes as no surprise that the boys in the blue and white hoops are a popular choice with touring teams, the three they have played and beaten this term having included Gordonstoun of Scotland, alma mater of Prince Charles.
The best prospect during the coming week should be the match between hosts Hermanus and Groenberg of Grabouw on Wednesday 10 August 2016.
After that, it’s three Saturdays to springtime !