Will Stellies Break Their Southern Suburbs Duck?

Tickled pink !  DF Malan right wing Bryan Breda (left) outpaces the Monument Park defence during
his side’s 30-5 win in Kraaifontein on Saturday 20 May 2017. (photo: Johann van Tonder)

Last Saturday might not have thrown up many surprise results, the notable exception being Outeniqua’s 26-21 home win over HTS Drostdy, but there were some astonishing, if not downright alarming, victory margins.

Although many realists might have foreseen Stellenberg’s 93-5 demolition of De Kuilen, the thrashings meted out to Rondebosch (73-7) and Wynberg (62-17) by Paarl Boys’ High and Boland Landbou respectively did little other than providing fuel for those who rejoice in the superiority of the country schools over their southern suburbs counterparts in the WP Premier A division.

Mercifully, the only such fixture on Saturday 27 May 2017 sees Paarl Gym travel to SACS, which means that embarrassing scorelines should be off the table.  In any case, the attention is far more likely to be with the following matches: Paarl Boys’ High vs Paul Roos, Outeniqua vs Oakdale, Noord-Kaap vs HTS Drostdy, Wynberg vs Bishops and, quite possibly, the most intriguing of them all, Stellenberg vs Rondebosch.

Much has been made of Boishaai’s fantastic (local) unbeaten run which reaches 1000 days on Friday.  That will all be forgotten as the young men tog up for their second biggest local match of the year, against Paul Roos.

The home team are blessed with such an abundance of riches that the loss of a key player such as flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain hasn’t fazed them in the slightest.  Such is the depth in and versatility of their squad that they have simply moved left wing Thakir Abrahams to full-back, leaving points machine Abner van Reenen to slot in at no.10. 

Paul Roos struggled away to a highly-motivated Grey High side a few weeks back and didn’t entirely convince doubters in their 29-24 win up at SACS seven days later.  Nevertheless, what they may lack in killer instinct, they more than make up for in the capacity to withstand enormous pressure.

Resolve is an essential component in the blood of any Young Matie and, with the astute team- management, they are unlikely to shy away from this challenge.

Although no. 8 Philip van Dyk, lock Breyten Maritz and their powerhouse props Cameron Dawson, Tristan Leitch and Alexander Mbete sometimes hog the headlines, the pack as a whole is a slick, cohesive unit. 

The backline is just as stable.  Halfbacks Gerado Jaars and Juan Mostert are the perfect combination to provide quality possession to Rufus Dercksen, Brendan Venter, Remy Engelbrecht and Regan van der Westhuizen.  The elegance of full-back Colia Louis adds just that extra touch of polish to the fast men.

Can’t make it?  It will be broadcast live on DSTV 210 from 11:55.

SACS will need their mountaineering kit on when they run out to face visitors Paarl Gym.

As if taming Gym isn’t a big enough task under ordinary circumstances, the Young Ikeys have had several recent injury worries: flank Tom Robinson’s season is over, lock Storm Balchin is making a carefully-monitored return from a concussion and neither scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu nor full-back Michael Abrahams was included for Saturday’s trip to Brackenfell. 

Hopefully, the last two may well be available for inclusion this week as their experience alone will be vital to the hosts’ efforts.

And, just in case you didn’t know, their visitors triumphed over Oakdale despite not being able to call upon the services of lock Adriaan Ludick, props François Staples and Daniël Wessels, flank Corné Uys, flyhalf Daniël Beukes and left wing Hanco Hanekom.  That’s a sizable chunk of major manpower. 

If only three of them rejoin Muller du Plessis, Chris Rossouw, Ryno Beukes and greyhound Henco Martins, the going will be very tough for Nick Maurer’s charges. 

It’s always nice to see Outeniqua recording a win after going through a very tough period during which more than half of their optimum starting fifteen were sidelined by injury. 

Their troubles began before Wildeklawer and got worse after their first outing in Kimberley. How appropriate, then, that things finally started coming together last Saturday in their first home game of 2017, the somewhat surprising 26-21 success against HTS Drostdy!

The half-back pairing of Sylvester Hassien and pivot James-Henry Mollentze both featured on a scorecard that will have filled the fans in Quagga City with both satisfaction and confidence.

Oakdale’s defeat to even a mildly sub-strength Paarl Gym side becomes all the more unsettling when one looks at their remaining fixtures for this term. 

As if Outeniqua doesn’t suddenly seem like a considerable mountain to climb, next week Paarl Boys’ High comes to Riversdale, intent on spoiling their hosts’ Akkerfees celebrations, and on 10 June the Bulle takes on Paul Roos at the Markotter.

One particularly bright light has been the emergence of Pietie Uys as both a reliable kicker and dependable last line of defence.  Although other regulars such as prop Dian Bleuler and scrumhalf Lian du Toit are never far from the spotlight, like the Quaggas, the side contains few “name” players, youngsters whose exploits see them take to the field already burdened with unrealistic expectations.  This might also count in their favour.  

Unfortunately, the same is true for their hosts and, with Oudtshoorn posing a less than credible threat this campaign, this becomes the battle for SWD bragging rights, even if we are still in May!

HTS Drostdy had been sailing smoothly with the help of a self-produced tailwind up to last Saturday when Outeniqua edged then 26-21. 

Although that result shouldn’t really worry them, they will be well aware that their opponents on this week’s trip to Kimberley, Noord-Kaap, are brimming with self-belief after a second successive Big Hole victory over Diamantveld in what is as passionate a derby as one will find anywhere.

Renier de Villiers will be priming his front men to put in that little bit more so that they can unleash a Donkey stampede which starts with elusive scrummy Romeo Eksteen and carries on via Berto le Roux and Christie Grobbelaar to wide finishers of the quality of Keanu Mong and Adrian Maans and the king of counter-attack Cohen Jasper.  

Eight-try lock Bron-Lee Mouries has been immensely influential over the last few years, but he is going to need some of his packmates to step up to the plate.

Wynberg’s performance over recent seasons calls to mind a line from the Paul Simon song, Allergies, “We get better but we never get well”.  Improvement is one thing, but, while that leaves great scope for improvement, the lower you start, the further you have to climb to get to anything like a good place.

No-one can doubt the home side’s commitment to the cause, but unfortunately their opponents, Bishops included, will by now have compiled a catalogue of their perceived shortcomings.

Last Saturday’s form alone makes one fear for Berg: the lads from Lovers Walk conceded 60+  out at the Farm at the same time as Bishops had a more than heartening (for the Platinum Blues, if not the Durbies) 72-14 romp against their B league hosts.

Even bearing in mind the cliché that, “on any Saturday, any side can beat any other”, trying to nullify the vast disparity between these scores and the effects on the two camps’ confidence still seems pretty insurmountable.

The hosts have found tries hard to come by, only no.8 Cameron Bowes (eight) and young hooker Jason Alexander (five) having crossed the whitewash more than three times.  They have had to rely heavily on the teework of no.10 Di Livio van Wyk and full-back David Botha (51 and 37 points respectively) to keep them competitive.

Bishops started the season nicely enough, winning in Porterville and Grahamstown, wobbled scarily against KES (14-35 at Wynberg), SACS (24-24 at home) and HTS Drostdy (26-32), but steadied the ship in Durbanville.  

Don’t start with pearls of wisdom like “one swallow doesn’t make summer” and “you can only play as well as your opponents allow you”; the confidence in the handling of every single Platinum Blue was a revelation, and I don’t mean the kind that presages the end of the world.  

Their major contributors have been hooker Ghaalib Kenny (eight tries) and left-wing-turned-scrumhalf Ross Goodwin (one less).  It’s difficult to mark a hooker, but it looks like Bowes might have to spend a fair portion of the game keeping a watchful eye on the latter player, come Saturday.

Even my neutral brain struggles to see a Wynberg victory, but it would be a great stepping-stone.

Any immediate hopes Rondebosch might have been entertaining of atoning for very ordinary outings against Hugenote and Bellville received a hearty kick in the teeth (73-7) from a Boishaai truck that really hasn’t got the room to transport any prisoners.  That said, there is really no excuse for that scoreline.

They trek up to face a Stellenberg side which has several factors on their side. 

Firstly, the shape of their rugby renaissance is showing results commensurate with their untiring input, which should spur the coaching staff on even more.  Secondly, the players are gaining the recognition that they so richly deserve, a whole handful of them being invited to the WP Under 18 trials.  Thirdly, both sides of the above will see this as an ideal opportunity to exercise, once and for all, the ghost of their defeat at Bishops, another southern suburb institution, back in April.

The Stellies are becoming just as well known as the Bosch players.  Lock Janko Swanepoel and hooker Josh Muller stand back for nobody in the tight and loose exchanges, while young Niven Petersen thrives at flyhalf outside the talented Jacques van Biljon, which translates into a confident backline already hugely bolstered by the experience of Angelo Davids, Roché Malan and Corné van Romburgh.

What better way could there be for the Jade Brigade to prepare for the clash against Boland Landbou on 3 June than a meeting with what is looking more and more like a jaded brigade?

The pick of the Premier B action is Brackenfell’s home match against Dan Aspeling-powered Bellville and DF Malan’s trip to strugglers De Kuilen.

The Boland must-sees start with the Citrus Derby in Clanwilliam, where hosts Augsburg Gym, fresh from an unexpectedly healthy 25-5 away win at Porterville, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of form team Charlie Hofmeyr from Ceres.

If you’re not sure whether flyhalf JP Viviers has picked up where he left off last season in the points department, just take a look at the Scorer Stats.  He is by no means alone, with the likes of scrumhalf Carl-Andrew Heins, centre Chadd Fortuin and tireless workhorse no.8 Marco Griebenauw around him.

The Charlies aren’t unbeaten this year by pure chance.  Their well of talent never seems to dry up, this year’s stars including flank and captain Shalton Cobern; his deputy, flyhalf Phillip Koegelenberg, eighth man Zinzan Willemse, front rowers Athi Maginja and Storm Hanekom and lively runners such as full-back Jared Manus and wing Eulme Norman.

This could well prove to be the most captivating contest of the weekend.

Two other attractive prospects see Piketberg visit high-flying Hopefield and delightfully well-structured Stellenbosch welcome a Vredenburg side which must be feeling somewhat chastened after Hopefield came to the coast and whacked them 42-6 last Saturday.

Lots to keep you busy.  Next week’s highlights appear to be Bishops vs Paarl Gym, Oakdale vs Paarl Boys’ High, Rondebosch vs Paul Roos and Stellenberg vs Boland Landbou, while DF Malan faces the acid-test visit of Brackenfell in the Premier B tier. 

Supremacy in the Boland will be at stake when Hugenote head over to Worcester to test their recent revival against HTS Drostdy, while Augsburg Gym hit Lutzville mindful of what happened to them there two years ago.  Ah, revenge is a dish best served cold, the saying goes. 

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