PAARL GYM OUT TO PUT SACS IN THEIR PLACE

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Any takers ?  Outeniqua full-back Matthew Thorne looks for a team-mate on his inside
as two Paarl Boys’ High defenders move in to tackle him during the Quaggas’
10-21 home defeat on Saturday 14 April 2018. (photo: Gavin Falck)


Every so often the fixtures committee throws out a round of fixtures which pits the southern suburbs sides against their Winelands counterparts.  Saturday 21 April 2018 is more or less one of those days, the only surprise being that it comes so early in the season.

With Bishops returning to the fray, all the WP Premier A sides will be strutting their stuff for the first time this campaign.  Boland Landbou welcome Rondebosch, SACS visit Paarl Gym and Wynberg host Paarl Boys’ High in the three all-Premier A ties, while Paul Roos entertain Grey High from Port Elizabeth at the Markotter and the Piley Rees sees Bishops take on Tygerberg.  The best of the inland fare promises to be Durbanville’s visit to Oakdale.

The Farmers’ season has started in an all-too-familiar way, a couple of agonisingly close defeats (against Garsfontein, 20-24 and Monnas 25-26) being counterbalanced by convincing victories over Napier of New Zealand (59-26), the Australian Cavaliers (67-0) and, most recently, Brackenfell 68-24.

The Windmeul backline seems to be kicking into gear, with Gavin Mills and Dean Reichert getting the likes of Erik Lambrecht, Sebastian de Klerk and HD van der Merwe away smoothly, while the forwards haven’t stood back, lock Schalk Bezuidenhout and no.8 Eugene Snyders featuring regularly on the scoresheet.

The impressive results Rondebosch achieved at St Stithian’s were somewhat undone by an inexplicably lacklustre, error-ridden display at home to Wynberg.  That said, at least it seems that flyhalf Ross Stone has picked up where he left off last year.

There is a fair amount of experience in the Bosch line-up, so that excuse cannot be proffered for last Saturday’s meltdown.  No. 8 Johann Strauss, lock/flank Mihlali Mgolodela, props Seth Christian and Chulu Mputing and centres Jaco Barnard and Thoubaan Gabriels will all have to up their game, come Saturday.

For what it’s worth, Bosch just edged out Napier 31-28 on Monday, so it looks like a tough assignment definitely awaits them on the Farm.

SACS had their moments at the Markotter last weekend, but, against a Paul Roos side that oozes class, these were very isolated and ultimately had very little influence on the outcome of the game.

Having a largely intact pack back from 2017 means little when you’re up against a side whom you humbled last year on your home field.  You don’t need me to tell you Paarl Gym is well aware of the score they have to settle on their way to retaining their unbeaten record.

The Young Ikeys will have their work cut out for them in the tight exchanges, even though the big men Ethan Burger, Josh Barrett and Jean Minnaar have already earned glowing reviews this winter.

The backline looks a little thin, with centre Ben Mazzullo, wing Kabelo Mokoena and full-back Michael Abrahams forming the skeleton of a young unit.

The hosts will be full of confidence, having brushed Affies aside 41-21 in Tshwane last weekend. 

Hooker Van Eeden Hanekom is joint leading try-scorer with playmaker Dawid Kellerman, while tighthead Jovan Bekker crossed the whitewash up north.  Second-rowers Juan Beukes and Mark Etzebeth let their impressive line-out and rucking work do the talking, while the Sieberts and captain Dean Nieuwoudt are ruthless in their hunt for the ball.

The backline is efficiency personified. Charl Janson grows in stature with every game at flyhalf, Kellerman is as elusive as ever, wing Stravino Jacobs will be keen to add to his five tries and full-back Tiaan Swanepoel is proving a menace when he attacks from deep.

All things considered, Gym should win it by a comfortable margin, but, after last year, the hosts will definitely not be underestimating the Newlands lads.  

Normally one would expect Wynberg to be apprehensive, to put it mildly, ahead of a visit by Paarl Boys’ High, but such is the positive vibe running through the lads from Lovers Walk that they are actually welcoming the arrival of Sean Erasmus’s charges.

This optimism has nothing to do with an expectation that they are likely to break their lengthy run of defeats against the Paarl giants, but is born out of a sense of self-belief that has developed in the team during its unbeaten start to the season.

Hopefully Di Livio van Wyk will be fit to take his place at the back – although Rethabile Louw proved a very capable replacement against Rondebosch – where he can channel the incisiveness of Chase Hermanus, Siya Nombakuse, Patrick Chivanga and Wandile Notshe, which has been given the chance to thrive outside half-backs Dylan Munro and Kyle Lamb.

Hooker Jason Alexander, who has been among the tries again, Nic Witte, Luthando Woji, Liam Lotz and Mika Schubert are going to find the going difficult against a typically rugged Brug Street unit, as will flanks Saeed Fakier and Inga Halu.

Boishaai are settling down after their eyebrow-raising defeat against the Jaguares with the backline posing opposing defences a whole raft of questions.  Outside centre Trent Sivertsen must be revelling in his role of playmaker now that flyhalf Kian Meadon has taken over the kicking duties.

There is some truly huge timber in the pack, not least of which no.8 Evan Roos and SA Schools lock Adrian Alberts, but Emile van Heerden, Rhynardt Rijnsburger and De Wet Wolhuter won’t be auditioning for roles among the seven dwarves in the next Snow White production.

It is great to note the atmosphere in the Hawthornden camp.  In a sport – and a society – where winning has become the be-all and end-all in everything, being able to derive the good from any situation represents a victory in itself.

Pop up to the leafy suburb and run an eye over the new Wynberg.

The Markotter is a pretty daunting place at the best of times.  Right now it is nothing short of terrifying.

The Maroons have the perfect blend of youth and experience to call upon, plus they’re not short in the versatility department, either.  Take hefty Mink Scharink, who normally plies his trade at lock, but featured in the front row against SACS last week, even scoring two tries on the day.

Hooker JJ Kotzé continues to lead the try-scorers with five touchdowns, which puts him level with new kid on the block, full-back Kade Wolhuter, while prop Robert Rodgers has thundered over the whitewash four times.

But it’s the backline, particularly the threequarters, that constitutes the business end of this poisonous snake.  Regan van der Westhuizen has slotted in at centre alongside Brendan Venter, leaving room for Tiaan Pretorius to occupy one wide berth, the other being the domain of Remy Engelbrecht.

Wolhuter must really be enjoying his first season in the senior ranks, with an impressive 31 conversions to his credit along with his five tries.

I can’t comment on the abilities of the Grey High team beyond noting that last weekend they subjected HTS Daniel Pienaar to a similar thumping to that doled out by the Young Maties at St John’s.

What I can tell you, though is that Paul Roos rector André van Staden, an Eastern Cape man born and bred, and who once taught at Grey, will surely be relishing the opportunity to welcome the illustrious Port Elizabeth institution’s new rector, Chris Erasmus, to life at the high table.

After a bye last weekend, Bishops are hardly being thrust into the heat of battle this Saturday when they welcome a Tygerberg side that doesn’t possess anything like the firepower of previous years.

In fact, the leading Tyger this season. dynamic no.8 Edja de Meyer, operates very much in isolation.  When he was absent for the TSRF game against third-tier Bellville South, the Parow side slumped to an embarrassing 28-15 defeat.  Enough said.

Despite fielding a team of players not familiar with the big time, the Platinum Blues have set out their stall as a polished attacking force in the best tradition of the school.

While it is difficult to single out any stars this early in the season, centre Harry Newman, scrumhalf William Rose and no.8 Isaiah Wharton have all put in performances that have garnered praise.

A healthy 26-10 victory over Grey High at St Stithian’s is perhaps their most significant result to date, but many insiders would prefer to wait until they have faced at least one or two of the leading local teams before passing judgement on them.

The Durbanville machine ran very smoothly in its 52-6 thumping of DF Malan on opening day, but is likely to return to reality with something approaching a loud thud when they take on Oakdale in Riversdale.

Their forwards needed to be little more than workmanlike to subdue DF, something which will definitely not suffice against the Bulls.  Players like Hannes Gous, Pieter Maritz and Keano Hendricks are likely to ask them far tougher questions. 

The backs, Durbies’ stronger suit, with Mondrey Titus, Luciano Peterson, Len Pelser, Juanré de Klerk and Diagho Miggel pulling the strings, isn’t going to have an easy time either. 

Oakdale wing Trevino Gordon has registered an astonishing twelve tries already this season and centres Etienne Steyn and Janco Klinck are well acquainted with the cut and thrust of top-flight schoolboy rugby.

While Outeniqua  - against whom Punt indicated their unwillingness to play – and HTS Drostdy  have the weekend off before the rigours of Wildeklawer, Malan du Plessis’s lads will be playing twice in as many days, with a match scheduled against New Zealanders Hutt International School on Monday.

The first of the matches against the Western Province Talent Identification Programme and WP Hub sides, both of which appear to comprise teams covering various zones in the third and lower tiers – and which this site will not be recognizing as legitimate fixtures – plays its own special brand of havoc with the Premier B programme.

The result is that all one can look forward to in this tier is Strand vs Bellville, Monument Park vs Primrose RFC and an entirely predictable – result-wise – mismatch between Stellenberg, who drilled Strand 76-0 last week, and Parel Vallei, who came unstuck 15-38 at the hands of Milnerton on Saturday. 

The Boland programme is also rather sparse, the most attractive possibilities being Swartland’s home game against Hermanus, who are never weak, resurgent Charlie Hofmeyr’s trip to Caledon to play Overberg, the Vredendal – Vredenburg clash and the match between Stellenbosch and Montagu in the Eikestad.

Apart from Wildeklawer, next week’s fare appears to be restricted to the Swartland vs Schoonspruit Malmesbury derby on Tuesday and Wynberg’s recently-organized home match against Durbanville on Thursday.

LAST 5 GAMES

Date Team Score
2018-04-19 AUGSBURG GYM
VREDENDAL SEC
36
18
2018-04-19 PAULUS JOUBERT
BERGRIVIER
17
22
2018-04-19 STELLENZICHT
GROENDAL
0
40
2018-04-19 GROENBERG
ALBERT MYBURGH
38
34
2018-04-19 KANNALAND
LANGENHOVEN HIGH
21
40
VIEW MORE SCORES