2018 IN REVIEW (Pt II) : THE DONKEYS DELIVER…AGAIN

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“Hey, isn’t that Sylvester Stallone ?”  Charlie Hofmeyr’s Boland Craven Week prop
Storm Hanekom prepares to hand off Montagu flyhalf Ryan George (10)
during his side’s 26-28 home defeat in August. (photo: Gail Barnard)


From their first outing against Stellenberg, it became abundantly clear that this was going to be an HTS Drostdy side of rare quality, even by that school’s own lofty standards. 

This was borne out by an outstanding 14-4 record made all the more impressive by the fact that their pariah status among Boland and Western Province schools means that they often have to cast their net wide to find suitable opposition.

Unpopular as they may be in the Boland, even the most hostile local opponents must be grateful for the Donkeys’ many talents when the time comes to select the provincial sides for the mid-year tournaments.

Eight players – centre Christie Grobbelaar, scrumhalf Luciano Elias, flanks CJ van Rensburg and Heinrich Naudé, tighthead Duan Bredenkamp, loosehead Tommie Bezuidenhout, flyhalf Shaun Baxter and utility back Roann Jansen – were selected for the Craven Week squad, the last two on the bench.  They would have been joined by mercurial full-back Cohen Jasper, had the youngster not been ruled out with an undiagnosed complaint.

In addition, wings Keane Galant and Adrian Maans, locks Gysbert du Preez and Renier Viljoen and hooker Wynand du Plessis cracked the nod for the Academy Week startling line-up.

The team gratefully seized the opportunity to play at the Boland Landbou and Brackenfell Days, beating 36-19 and Bellville 40-18, after which it was off to the KES Easter Festival, where they went down 26-29 to Glenwood, but beat Welkom Gym 22-14 and Selborne 29-26.

After a few hours in which to catch their breath they headed for the North-South Festival in Middelburg for successive wins over the hosts (36-19), Marais Viljoen (59-14) and highly-rated Transvalia (30-21). 

A great opening sequence, but their programma was already almost half finished !

No sooner had their first home game ended in a pulsating 34-37 defeat to Oakdale than they were off to Kimberley and the Wildeklawer Spectacular, where the shock of a 47-5 thrashing at the hands of Grey College was offset by a 22-16 victory over Menlopark.

The remaining matches of the term saw success against Hermanus (41-25), Outeniqua (25-18) and Tygerberg (76-19) with a 37-43 defeat at Rondebosch wedged in between the last two.

The third term had a distinctly Northern Cape flavour to it as Duineveld (34-28 in Upington), Noord-Kaap (40-22) and Diamantveld (83-19) all ate the Donkeys’ dust.

Any doubts about the decision to entrust the kicking duties to Baxter, who didn’t reach double figures in 2017, rather than Jasper, who logged 172 points, were soon dispelled as the pivot contributed 207 points to the cause this time round, which included thirteen tries, the most by an any Donkey.

Despite only playing until mid-May, Jasper dotted down twelve times, with loosehead Tommie Bezuidenhout (11) and no.8 CJ van Rensburg and outside centre Christie Grobbelaar (ten each) hot on his heels.

All in all, the side’s 675 points included a magnificent 103 tries, proof positive of the exhilarating brand of rugby with which they thrilled crowds everywhere.

A shortage of space prevents a detailed analysis of all the other Boland teams, but the following should give a good indication of the success stories of the season – and the occasional failure.

Next on the merit list come New Orleans and Hopefield (both 11-2), Bonnievale (10-2-1) and Porterville (14-1-3).

NO only lost to Brackenfell and Swartland, and, in Feghan Snyders, Gilton Magena and Anrich Hugo, had three representatives in the AW team.  Well led by astute flyhalf Ayoob Davids, they recorded 65 tries, the leading contributor being utility back Cowan November with ten.

Surprisingly, Hopefield didn’t have any Boland representation.  Their only two setbacks came at the hands of Bishops (24-7) and Bellville (19-6), while the high point of the season was a maiden 32-14 home win over Swartland.  The halfbacks dictated play intelligently, flyhalf Nathan Engelbrecht scoring twelve tries on his way to 148 points and scrumhalf Gregan Papier, eight.

Bonnievale had problems of their own to deal with, but still finished the season with only a single defeat (22-19 vs Dirkie Uys).  Their top try-scorers were centre Lorenzo Kortje (12) and flyhalf Constant Tamboer (11), while Javian Slingers added 99 points.

Porterville’s 562 points were achieved in no small part thanks to the sharp tactical brain of flyhalf Denzil Douries, whose 232 points placed him second in the provincial scoring charts.  Left-wing Lee-Marvin Mouton recorded an excellent fifteen tries.       

Montagu (9-1-3), Schoonspruit (17-1-5), Groenberg and Stellenbosch (both 10-1-4) also had commendable seasons.

The Dried Fruit Men recorded several impressive victories, the most eye-catching being the home win over Langenhoven Gym (34-26) and the 28-26 triumph over Charlie Hofmeyr in Ceres.  Once again, centre Maxwell Klaasen’s 164 points laid the foundation, which wing Marlon Pekeur and flyhalf Ryan George (twelve and nine tries respectively) supplemented. 

Schoonspruit’s astonishing 23 games saw them register 800 points, thanks largely to twin spearheads Alberto Damon (flyhalf) and Connor Mahoney (the Boland Craven Week full-back), each of whom scored 179 pints, the major difference being the fact that Mahoney’s tally included 25 tries, the most in the province.  Wing Manuel Geduld (18 tries) almost reached the three-figure mark as well.

The most striking result was their demolition of Augsburg Gym (86-0), but Vos de Jager would probably have derived more satisfaction from the away successes against Piketberg (38-17) and neighbours Swartland (24-19).

Groenberg weren’t quite the force they were in 2017, but still had much to be proud of, not least the inclusion of no.8 Bradley Alexander and Warren-Lee van der Walt in the AW squad and wins over Albert Myburgh (38-34) and Monument Park (49-33).  Full-back A-jay Gillions scored 110 points, while right wing Ceejay Swartz crossed the whitewash fifteen times.

Stellenbosch are always there or thereabouts and obliged with comfortable wins at the expense of Montagu (49-33) and Jan van Riebeeck (31-17), but the occasional lapse cost them dear.  Centre Rudo Smith scored 158 points, 55 of them coming from tries, a tally equalled by wing Rodwin September.

Still in the upper half of the Team Stats table come Hugenote (10-2-4), the Cederberg Academy (7-2-3), Hermanus (8-1-5) and Klein Nederburg (7-1-4).

Despite a less than stellar year, Hugenote still had lock Thomas Linnegar and flank Keanu Adonis picked for the CW squad, while prop Hanno van Zyl, flank WP Steenkamp and utility back Brent Manuel were included in the AW squad.

The Blackies’ first and last results (wins over Tygerberg 39-24 and Swartland 36-14) probably best encapsulate a stop-start season which saw them cancel an eagerly anticipated (by everyone else, at least) game against HTS Drostdy.  Flyhalf Emile du Plessis was their top scorer on 105 points, the leading tryscorer being prop Justin Cilliers on seven.

The Cederberg Academy side performed very well in their regional league, thanks to the boot of full-back Willsley Banies (85 points) and utility back Franquin Titus’s seven tries.

Hermanus boasted SA Schools flyhalf Lionel April in their ranks.  He was joined in the CW team by lock JW Human and scrumhalf Aphelele Madaka, but there were four AW caps as well: full-back Earl Bruintjies, No.8 J’hanco Botha, flank SJ Herholdt and prop Enrico Luiz.

Despite good wins against Hugenote (24-17), Klerksdorp (29-22), Parel Vallei (57-12) and Strand (28-15), the most remarkable thing about their record is the matches they inexplicably lost, prime examples being the Swartland (25-27) and Overberg (29-30) clashes.

April posted 116 points, but no-one else shone, Botha leading the try scorers with just seven.

KN flew largely under the radar, although centre Shane-Cole Williams made the CW side and flank Adri Kermis and prop Auden Neff were chosen for the AW side.

They gave Swartland a sound 29-17 beating, but were otherwise ineffective on the road, although they did keep Hugenote honest, losing just 22-32 towards the end of the campaign. 

Left wing Henrico Hartogh put in a good shift, scoring eleven tries, but the fact that flyhalf Austin Thomas only racked up 68 points might have meant the difference between victory and defeat on several occasions.

Bredasdorp (8-1-6), Overberg (9-1-7), Swartland (10-9) and Piketberg (9-1-6) make up a pretty diverse group around the midway mark.

The first-mentioned owe a debt of gratitude to their two Boland CW players, no.8 Thinus van Zyl and lock Jurie de Kock for their placement.

There were big wins, such as against Swellendam (40-7) and Melkbosstrand (50-10), but two tight victories, over Robertson (20-19) and Overberg (6-5), might be better remembered.  Van Zyl, who often turned out at centre for the school, notched thirteen tries and De Kock, eleven, with flyhalf Antonio Vywer’s 116 points providing the icing.

Overberg, who had prop Marcel Pheiffer chosen for the AW side, had a quieter year than usual, their happiest memories doubtless coming from a hard-fought 35-32 win over Montagu and interschools success away to Hermanus (30-29).

No-one really stood out in the points scorer stakes, probably due to the fact that scrumhalf Jaco Conradie (101) and flank Jan Kotzé (60) shared tee duty.

Swartland’s only had one CW representative, hooker JP Groenewald, in what was a somewhat disappointing campaign, which saw several home games that should have been won (19-24 vs Schoonspruit and 24-27 vs Langenhoven Gym) ending up in defeats. 

However, the Rockies did show their capabilities in beating Hermanus (27-25), Robertson (24-10) and New Orleans (14-12).

Flyhalf Ethan Diston (145 points) was also the top try scorer with eight five pointers.

One can’t help but feel a little sorry for Piketberg.  The White Ship suddenly ran into a mid-season storm during which they beat Lutzville (22-16), but suffered crippling setbacks against Schoonspruit (17-38), Hopefield (0-25), Durbanville (0-68) and Tygerberg (5-29).

Their main problem seemed to be an inability to score tries, no.8 Jaco Strijdom alone making an impression with eleven of their meagre return of 42.

Lutzville (6-7), Weston (6-7), Dirkie Uys (6-8) and Worcester Gym (9-10) mark the beginning of the underachievers.

Considering Lutzville’s size, their record wasn’t that bad, the outcome of their games against Piketberg (16-22), Vredendal (19-20) and Calvinia (10-11) being real cliffhangers, but they will have happy memories of an emphatic 26-8 win over Augsburg Gym in Clanwilliam..

Front row strongman FC Ras scored eight tries, while left wing Onika Likhwili weighed in with 97 points.

Weston came off second best too often on the road, such as when they succumbed 5-61 to Bellville South, but held their own in home games, trouncing Steynville (53-0) and Diazville (36-13).

Unfortunately, the only player to make any sort of telling contribution was flyhalf Luciano Odendaal with 86 points, which included nine tries.

Worcester Gym, who had left wing Enthinique Adams and outside centre Dylan Cole Setera selected for the CW and AW squads respectively, started off with a fine 29-24 win over Punt before undertaking a tough four game trip to the Namibian Desert Festival.

Unfazed they recorded wins over Swartland (47-24), Worcester Sec (46-22) and Ashton Sec (43-12) before things turned sour at the Klein Karoo event in Oudtshoorn, after which they were never really the same, even losing interschools 17-19 at home to De Kuilen.

Only talismanic flyhalf Ussiëll Langeveldt (135 points) seemed capable of providing stability and when he went off the boil, so did the Bosvarke.

Charlie Hofmeyr (4-2-7), Robertson (5-1-8), Labori (7-1-11) and Vredenburg (6-9) all flew well below the radar.

Charlies had a very young team, who provided prop Storm Hanekom to the CW squad and centre André Jacobs to the AW group, which lost 0-37 to DF Malan at home at the start of the season and never really hit their straps, their best results being a 48-14 win over Itembelihle at Union High and a 40-15 success at Vredenburg.

Their inability to score points is reflected in the fact that only right wing Brandon Cana (eleven tries) and flank Kyle Hofmeester (59 points) made any kind of telling scoreboard contributions.

Whereas many sides started like a house on fire only to tail off dramatically later on, Robertson, whose Albert Bruwer was chosen for the CW squad, couldn’t buy a win until mid-May, after which they performed admirably, beating Labori (12-10), Stellenbosch (18-16) and Overberg (20-16) on the road and Montana (43-0) and Langenhoven High (29-15) at home before drawing their interschools clash with Charlie Hofmeyr 23-23.

Unfortunately, points proved hard to come by, with only scrumhalf Ashwill Sauls (64) and outside centre Kyron Keffers (seven tries) striking any sort of scoring form.

Apart from heavy defeats against Langenhoven Gym, Swartland, Hopefield and Hugenote, Labori more or less held their own, fuelled largely by the accurate tee-work of Jadrian Coert (149 points).  However, only prop Logan van Neel (seven tries) managed to breach opposing defences anything like regularly.

Vredenburg started off well, winning all three games at TSRF 2018, but went into a massive home slump, which saw them wait until interschools against Monument Park (28-5) to notch a win on their own field. Wing Ryan Haupt scored six tries while kicker Elton Coetzee managed 73 points.

Paulus Joubert (5-1-9), Augsburg Gym (5-9), Vredendal (5-11) and Montana (3-10) struggled manfully with little success.

All PJ could smile about was a few victories at TSRF and in local league matches in Paarl.  The difficulty they experienced in penetrating opposing defences can be seen in the fact that their leading contributor was hooker Clive Prins with nine tries.

Augsburg Gym and Vredendal are both used to life much higher on the performance charts.  The former took terrible beatings from Montagu, Upington and Schoonspruit during the season, while Vredendal’s woes started a whole lot earlier when they lost all four games in four days at the Desert Festival.

The very fact that Montana still offer rugby is down to the tireless work of coach Jacques Steyn.  If efforts were justly rewarded, his team would be right up there with HTS Drostdy.



 

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