MALMESBURY EVENT PROVES A WINNER…AGAIN
One-way traffic. Charlie Hofmeyr flyhalf Phillip Koegelenberg (left) takes the game to
the Vredenburg defence during his team’s 62-0 away win on Saturday 22 April 2017.
Koegelenberg bagged 22 points in the game. (photo: Gail Barnard)
The Swartland Rugby Festival, which took place on Thursday 20 and Saturday 22 July 2017, serves fundamentally two purposes, both connected to the timing of the event.
The first is to provide interested local schools with the opportunity to shake off the cobwebs which accumulate over five weeks of inactivity ahead of the intense run-in to the end of the local season. In similar vein, it presents a charming introduction to local conditions for several of the touring teams from Britain and Ireland.
This year it also served as a welcome reminder to lovers of the schoolboy game down south of why they love a game whose annual showpiece fell so short of expectations in many ways, some of which will be discussed both later on this site and, doubtless, beside rugby fields around the province during the weeks to come.
Thursday 20 July
The teams on day one took little time to get back into the swing of things, producing what turned out to be a full programme of attractive play, without even the hint of a mismatch, the nightmare that haunts every organizer. Even the weather brightened up considerably, the early morning drizzle soon giving way to pleasant, if chilly, conditions.
Durbanville (12) 24 Piketberg (7) 7
The Durbies put in an honest hour’s hard work against a rather rusty White Ship selection, managing to muster four tries on their way to a victory that was more conclusive than the result suggests.
Flank Wian Smit set the scoreboard in motion before strong-running full-back John Mentoor crossed for the first of his two tries. The Piketberg half-backs kept their side in the picture, Burdty Joubert dotting down just before the break for flyhalf Pierre Mouton to convert.
After the change-over young Durbies outside centre Juanré de Klerk played a key role as his side asserted its dominance and was rewarded with their fourth try, which he also goaled.
Vredenburg (5) 12 Augsburg Gym (10) 15
The fears of those who suspected this might prove to be little more than a walk in the park for the Clanwilliam team were pleasantly surprised by the coastal outfit, who, in fact, were first to score, left wing Justin Claassen using his pace to outflank the opposition.
Missing their star Craven Week goalkicker, JP Viviers, Augsburg had to be content with two unconverted tries, by flank Ricus Faul and replacement centre Wion September, before the break and one second-half effort by Faul.
Vredenburg didn’t lie down by any means, scrummie CP Nunez sneaking over for a try, the conversion of which by flyhalf Jayson Dyers, made the closing exchanges extremely exciting.
Tygerberg (7) 14 Charlie Hofmeyr (5) 19
The eagerly-anticipated highlight of the day was full of action, even if the score might indicate otherwise.
Both sides were missing players, the Charlies probably being the more affected, with four regulars on provincial duty.
The opening score came from the Ceres team’s left wing Leigh Booysen, more accustomed to life in the second and third teams, but pivot Alessandro Dirk’s conversion of a try which resulted from great scything run by outside centre John-Henry Pienaar gave Gavin Beresford’s team the lead at half-time.
Right wing Viehan Meyer notched another converted try for the Tygers, but the immense efforts of the Charlies’ loose forwards, in particular flank and captain Shalton Cobern and no.8 Zinzan Willemse, finally won the day.
Cobern scored their first try of the second period himself and made the second with a long, penetrative run, brushing off or breaking through several tackles. When he was eventually tackled on the corner flag, he popped the ball up for flyhalf Phillip Koegelenberg, who landed two conversions, to dive over for the match-winning five-pointer.
Bellville (17) 31 Campbell College (N Ire) (0) 12
The presence of Bellville centre Dan Aspeling brought home to the spectators just how cruelly some highly-talented youngsters were treated by the provincial selectors.
As soon as he’d found his goalkicking bearings, the solidly-built midfielder bossed proceedings with his familiar dynamic style.
Flank Dewald Pienaar and elusive right wing Xavier Adams set the northern suburbs side on the right track with unconverted tries, but Aspeling made light work of goaling the last three touchdowns, scored by left wing Dillon Ekland, no.8 Kyle Potgieter and the general himself.
The Irish side did make a fist of it with two second-half tries, but the horses had already long since bolted.
Swartland (10) 34 UCS Hampstead (Eng) (0) 8
The hosts gave no sign of their two greatest failings this season – goalkicking and the shape of their midfield – to register a convincing win over a highly competitive UCS side, whose nemesis proved to be Rockies flyhalf Ethan Diston, who scored a try, goaled all four five- pointers and added two penalties for a nineteen-point haul.
Some excellent work at first centre was rewarded with a try by Sam Walters, the other two being snapped up by full-back Ryle Daniels and lock Dylan Langlands.
If one is to believe the advance notice that preceded the Hampstead side, one can only wonder why the Rockies haven’t delivered more such performances.
Other score : Gill College (14) 24 Campbell College 2nds (N Ire) (17) 17
Saturday 22 July
A beautiful clear winter’s day provided ideal conditions for running rugby, which was not lost on the participants, all of whom produced lovely constructive rugby.
Piketberg (0) 24 Gill College (15) 15
It might have taken the White Ship half an hour to get into top gear, but they then used their superior speed out wide to coast past a game Gill side, who led at half-time thanks to tries by inside centre Halamlani Majoka and imposing loosehead Johan Moolman, who also added a conversion and a penalty.
As soon as hard-running left wing Alex Ratilainen was brought into play, Piketberg started to dominate play. Ratilainen and tricky scrumhalf Burdty Joubert both dotted down twice, while flyhalf Pierre Mouton contributed two conversions.
Tygerberg (17) 38 Vredenburg (0) 14
The Tygers were superior in every facet of this game, even though they fielded a relatively young side. Perhaps this factor hampered them to some extent as they never really pressed home their advantage.
Flyhalf Sean Gordon, outside centre John-Henry Pienaar and full-back Alessandro Dirk – who also added four conversions – were all rewarded with tries, as were energetic flank Ruan Holsthauzen, reserve wing Heinrich Ferreira and scrumhalf Chrisholm September.
When the Parow team took their foot off the gas, Vredenburg restored a measure of pride through tries by flank Leano Haupt and replacement no.8 Grant van der Ventel, scrumhalf CP Nunez and full-back Ryan Haupt adding the conversions.
Charlie Hofmeyr (12) 38 UCS Hampstead (Eng) (5) 13
The Charlies had an unexpectedly easy time of it against their English opponents, thanks in no small part to the hat-trick of tries by young wing Leigh Booysen, who must fancy his chances of nailing down a permanent place, what with the broken finger suffered by Jared Manus at the Craven Week.
Flyhalf Phillip Koegelenberg ran proceedings with his usual aplomb, but had to settle for a haul of four conversions. Centre André Jacobs, flank Coenie Burger and replacement lock Daniël Havenga also crossed the line in an energetic display that will hopefully have served as good preparation for the Chasrlies’ tough games against Hugenote (away) and Hermanus (home) in the next fortnight.
Bellville (17) 31 Sullivan Upper (Eng) (0) 12
From the moment lively hooker Cheslyn Kupido barged over for the first try, the northern suburbs unit never really looked like losing against what proved to be a very committed English side.
Further tries came from loosehead François de Villiers, full-back Dennis Hansen and nippy right wing Xavier Adams, but the most remarkable effort of the entire festival came right at the end when talismanic inside centre Dan Aspeling dragged several players with him as he surged across the line from twenty metres out.
His three successful conversions took him to within six points of the 200 mark for the season. Not bad for a player not recognized by his province !
Swartland (17) 29 Stewarts Mellville (Scot) (5) 17
It really is a great pity that so few spectators stayed on for the festival finale, which produced a game of outstanding quality, in which the hosts put on a brilliant defensive display against their highly-rated visitors.
Scrumhalf Loedolff Walters scored early on to put them in the lead, but it took two conversions – left wing Siphe Kobo darted over for a lovely try midway through the half – and a penalty by pivot Ethan Diston to put any daylight between the teams by the break.
The Scots’ inside centre Jack Blain was a constant threat, scoring two tries and notching a conversion, but five-pointers by right wing Breyton Henkeman and burly flank Boeta van Reenen, the first of which Diston goaled, proved too much for the bustling Stewarts Mellville outfit, who remained interested right to end, thanks to a great try by outside centre Finlay MacNeill.
Other score : Durbanville (34) 89 Sullivan Upper 2nds (Eng) (0) 5
Once again, the event proved to be a much-appreciated limb-loosener for the business end of the season. As the scores indicate, the games were generally very competitive, the quality of the touring 1st teams definitely representing a step-up from that of previous seasons.
Please inform me if your school has any matches lined up against touring schools in the coming weeks so that I can post them on the fixture list and include them in the statistics.