The North vs South Tournament moves to Waterkloof Hoërskool for the first time but do not think the battles will be less fierce. The first day's fixtures promise to keep all attending on the front edges of their seats.
First up at 12h40 will be EG Jansen vs Boland Landbou. EG Jansen was not expected to do that well this year as reports indicated a raid by various schools stripping EG Jansen from most of their talent. EG Jansen played three games this season winning all three of them, Rustenburg 30-7, Voortrekker Bethlehem 40-10 and Garsfontein 34-28. The biggest upset was them beating Garsfontein in Pretoria. This is unfortunately where the good news stop for the boys from the East. Their star flyhalf, Ruben Beytell is injured and will not be available for the next three weeks leaving them without their playmaker and top scorer. Boland Landbou will arrive in Pretoria full of confidence although they lost against SACS, 5-0 at the Newlands Popcorn Rugby Day. The boys from Boland is coached by Olaf Bergh who is for the past few years busy establishing a new brand of rugby at Boland. This year it is said that for the first time in a long time Boland's backline is as talented as their forwards are big and powerful. One can expect a fast flowing game from both teams but I believe the boys from the Western Cape will take this one.
The second fixture will be between Garsfontein and Paarl Gimnasium. Garsfontein is having a good season with wins against Rustenburg 32-17 Diamantveld 25-5 and Menlopark 41-25 with the only loss the one against EG Jansen 28-34. What is often neglected to be mentioned is that at the final whistle against EG Jansen Garsfontein was camping on EG's try line. Garsfontein will look at their star centre, Diego Adonis to cut holes in the defence of Paarl Gim. Garsfontein has shown that they have the forwards to supply their backline with quality ball which they know to use it. Their wings Juandré Scheepers and Thian Thysse has shown this season that they know how to finish. Paarl Gimnasium had a shaky start against Stellenberg 31-19 in their first match of the season. Their victory against Affies 35-33 which was televised and the cause of a lot of debate in the past week a but history will show that they won Affies with 35-33. They played on Tuesday at the Newlands Rugby Day with a majority 2nd team and won 10-5 against a spirited Bishops. Gim's two locks Adriaan Ludick and Ryno Beukes is their enforcers with the talented Henco Martins at eight. Muller du Plessis scored two tries against Affies and showed that he is the man to watch as he is continuously asking questions to the defence of their opponents. Expect a tight battle up front and the team who secures the best ball for the backline to score the winning tries.
Next up is the Menlopark Outeniqua fixture. Menlopark had a few narrow wins the season starting with a victory against Transvalia 40-36 then a draw 30 all against Jeppe. Their victory against Noord Kaap 37-36 was followed with a win against Kempton Park 18-11. In the quarter final of Tuks series, they came up against Garsfontein losing 25-41. Menlopark will look at their flyhalf Werner Nel to control the game using their forwards to create pressure on their opponents. Outeniqua had an easy win against Sentraal 59-19 followed up with another win against Brackenfell 15-27 at the Brackenfell Rugby Day. Outeniqua arrives at the Noord Suid tournament as a relatively unknown quantity but what we know of any Outeniqua team is that they are well coached with big forwards and lightning-fast backs. Menlopark may well have been "struggling" this season all of their opponents was quality teams. Maybe this one will go to the wire with the better preparation and match fitness the deciding factor.
The Stellenberg vs Waterkloof game will be the last match of the day. Waterkloof opened their season with a comfortable win of 67-14 against Montana Hoërskool from Pretoria and then followed a massive loss against Grey College 67-12, followed by a good victory against Goudveld 57-19. Against Goudveld Waterkloof's backline was the stars in their victory completely overrunning the defence of Goudveld in the second half. Stellenberg started their season with a quality display losing 19-31 to Paarl Gim followed up with a victory against Oudshoorn with 38-0. They lost their last match against Paul Roos with 10-5 at the Newlands Rugby Day. Tony Stoops view on Stellenberg's team after their game against Paarl Gim was "Stellenberg were good value throughout, their exceptional player undoubtedly being lock Janko Swanepoel, whose build and phenomenal work-rate would have reminded locals of Johan Momsen, now starring for the Maties. If they had had another line-out option with his technical ability, the visitors might have done even better. The rest of the pack did everything together with the kind of relentless dedication that bodes well for the season ahead. Flyhalf Nivan Petersen was always going to be on a hiding to nothing, having to fill the boots of 2016’s sublimely-talented Ewert Carstens. He undoubtedly has the skills, but it is vital that he acclimatises quickly for both his and his team’s sake. Next week’s match against Oudtshoorn will hopefully already see him move up a gear. Outside him, Steph Marais looked great on the left wing and even more comfortable at inside centre, while the calming influence of no 13 Corné van Romburgh provided the ideal foil for the flair of Angelo Davids, the result being a delightfully well-balanced backline." Stellenberg should win but Waterkloof might turn out to be the dark horse of this tournament.