BISHOPS TAKE UNINSPIRING DERBY
Fanta-stic ! Rondebosch flank Jason Macleod-Smith breaks through two SACS tackles
during his side's 36-22 away win on Saturday 19 August 2017. (photo: Robert Gad)
Hosts Bishops turned a narrow 10-8 half-time lead into a misleadingly comprehensive 31-18 victory over Wynberg on the Piley Rees on Saturday 19 August 2017.
Whether it was the sudden spell of warm weather or just a case of the end-of-the-season blues, neither side was able to wrest complete control, with the result being that, ultimately, three brief highlights are all that any of the large contingent of spectators are likely to be able to call to mind when reflecting on the match.
Both backlines were forced to operate without key players, the hosts’ left wing Ross Goodwin and the Wynberg centres Christian Colborne and Ryan Biscombe all being forced to watch from the touchline.
Wynberg grabbed the initiative in emphatic style in the opening stages. Although the Platinum Blues inside centre George Spencer made several yards out of defence, Wynberg flyhalf David Botha set flank Inga Halu up for a bullocking run which put his side firmly on the front foot.
Berg full-back Di Livio van Wyk used a penalty to set up a line-out on the Bishops 22, from which the visiting pack launched a stunning rolling maul, which saw them power hooker Jason Alexander over the line to open the score. (Bishops 0 Wynberg 5 – 7 minutes)
Some hesitant Bishops defensive work ended with the hosts turning over possession, conceding a tight head and then getting penalized for not releasing the ball in quick succession as the Berg maintained the upper hand, flyhalf David Botha punishing the last of these with a sweetly-struck 47 metre penalty. (Bishops 0 Wynberg 8 – 12 minutes)
Opting for attack as the best form of defence, the locals moved upfield fine, finding Wynberg scrumhalf Matt Doyle well-positioned in defence, only for his good work to be undone by poor handling. From the ensuing scrum Spencer sent left wing Matt du Plessis clear from 28 metres out to open the hosts’ score. Hooker Ghaalib Kenny’s conversion reduced the deficit to a single point. (Bishops 7 Wynberg 8 – 21 minutes)
One of the most frustrating aspects of the game – the inability of both sides to capitalize on their opponents’ errors – was highlighted when Wynberg lock Liam Lotz was allowed to make thirty metres before being caught by the cover defence following a penalty conceded by Bishops for an early shove on their own put-in.
A maddening tendency by the Platinum Blues to kick too deep on attack was increasingly irritating even their own fans, although, to be fair, Wynberg did their level best to match them in this regard.
Some lacklustre midfield exchanges eventually saw Wynberg penalized for not releasing the ball, giving Kenny the chance to put his team ahead six minutes short of the break. Half-time : Bishops 10 Wynberg 8.
Spencer was on hand to regain possession early in the second period, combining with Man of the Match no.8 Matt Norton to take play up to the Berg 22, where a penalty enabled the hosts to set up an attacking line-out from which lock Tim Sharples forced his way over. Kenny added the extras. (Bishops 17 Wynberg 8 – 41 minutes)
Two penalties in quick succession then saw van Wyk first take play up to the Bishops 22 and then slot a comfortable goal. (Bishops 17 Wynberg 11 – 44 minutes)
Almost immediately, the second high point (after Berg’s push-over try) saw some inspired footwork and stepping by Bishops pivot Aydan Labuschagne bamboozle the entire Wynberg defence from 25 metres out to notch his side’s second try. Kenny stretched the lead from the tee. (Bishops 24 Wynberg 11 – 46 minutes)
At last the Platinum Blues, albeit only for a short period, produced their trademark brand of enterprising rugby, more direct running by Labuschagne creating all the space captain and outside centre Rob Macdonald needed to scythe through untouched. Kenny completed the scoring for the home side. (Bishops 31 Wynberg 11 – 50 minutes)
Try as they might – and they did – the hosts couldn’t convert possession into points in the last twenty minutes, although good work by Labuschagne, Macdonald and Sharples deserved to be rewarded.
With time ticking away, van Wyk’s boot set up a belated Wynberg attack as tempers got frayed, with Bishops conceding a second yellow-card for indiscipline.
The game’s third highlight then came as the Wynberg backs tested the home defence. Seeming to materialize from nowhere, Bishops lock Matt van Westenbrugge launched a massive tackle on an unsuspecting opponent, much to the appreciation – and, probably, amazement – of the appreciative local supporters.
As the final whistle approached Berg no.8 Cameron Bowes drove powerfully, a strong Bishops defensive effort not preventing the visitors from getting the scrum put-in close to the line.
As the scrum wheeled Doyle was presented with the opportunity to pick up the ball and dart over for his side’s second try, which van Wyk converted to end the game. Final score : Bishops 31 Wynberg 18.
The sustained creativity one expects from southern suburbs teams was woefully absent and the thought that most of the visiting side and at least six of the Bishops starting fifteen will be manning the trenches again in 2017 would hardly have sparked a rush for season tickets, if such were necessary.
Perhaps that is unfair to both teams. Wynberg have had a wretched time, the Paarl Gym debacle proving a perfect illustration of the yawning divide in both attitude and ability as regards rugby in the city as opposed to the winelands.
Bishops themselves have been put through the emotional wringer of the horrific assault on coach Richard Smith, whose remarkable convalescence has enabled him to be present at several practices and the last two games.
Before moving on to the interschools round-up, it’s worth looking at the handful of games involving the bigger sides around the province.
Despite being shaded 4-3 in terms of tries, Outeniqua held on to compound Paarl Gym’s misery with a 27-24 win in George, the heroes on the day being two-try outside centre Emilio Otto and flyhalf James-Henry Mollentze, who chipped in with twelve points, taking him past the 200-point mark for the season.
Visitors Framesby made Oakdale sweat before losing 24-17, perhaps the most heartening aspect for the Bulls being that they had avoided defeat against the PE side, who had beaten their archrivals Boland Landbou – who arrive for interschools on Saturday – at Windmeul earlier in the season.
HTS Drostdy were pushed all the way by Upington’s Duineveld before winning 12-0, courtesy of tries by lock Bronlee Mouries and right wing Keanu Mong.
In the WP Premier B league, the excitement of Bellville’s narrow 20-15 win at DF Malan and Durbanville’s resounding 68-8 home win against Milnerton were both eclipsed by the Parow pointsfest in which Tygerberg’s tenuous hopes of ending the season as champions of the second tier disappeared when Stellenberg thrashed them 90-26, scoring fourteen tries in the process.
What further proof does one need that the Jade Brigade belongs in the top echelon ?
The various end-of-season derbies pretty well all followed the form book, with one notable exception.
After a few lame outings, hosts Swartland took on slightly more in-form Hugenote up front and pulled off a stunning 26-22 win. What’s so remarkable about that ? Well, flyhalf Ethan Diston, whose three conversions proved the clincher, played despite suffering a broken arm two weeks ago ! Now, that’s the stuff of which legends are made !
There were some outstanding individual performances, none more so than that of Parel Vallei flyhalf Jason Oliemans, whose 32 points (four tries and six conversions) constituted more than half of his side’s total in their 57-5 whipping of Somerset College.
Other contributors, on a slightly smaller – but no less important – scale:
Pivot Phillip Koegelenberg helped Charlie Hofmeyr seal an emphatic 41-20 win over visitors Robertson with five penalties and three conversions (21 points);
Augsburg Gym’s Boland Craven Week flyhalf JP Viviers passed the 200 mark with 17 points (two tries, two conversions and a penalty) in his side’s 27-18 victory over Vredendal;
Hermanus centre Johann Krog’s try, conversion and three penalties (16 pts) clinched their derby against Overberg in Caledon;
Prolific Hopefield scrumhalf Gregan Papier's try, three conversions and a penalty (14 pts) made sure Lutzville returned home well beaten, 34-10, and
Dirkie Uys left wing Justin Otto's two conversions and three penalties (13 pts) guided the Moorreesburg Tigers to a 28-25 home victory against Jan van Riebeeck.
Even this late in the campaign, it’s always encouraging to see a side finally hitting top form like Stix Theunissen’s Oudtshoorn side, who hammered PW Botha 38-5 in their final preparation for Saturday’s showdown with Outeniqua in George.
Might they stand a chance or will the Quaggas send the Struisies’ feathers flying ? Wait till the weekend to find out !