2018 IN REVIEW (PT III) : JADE BRIGADE STILL LEADS THE WAY

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Predator on the prowl.  DF Malan no. 8 Ulrich van Tonder takes the ball upfield during his
side’s 20-5 away win over Bellville at Interschools 2018. (photo: Johann van Tonder)

For as long as one can remember the WP Premier B league has been a random collection of schools whose only common factor is that they comprise the bigger northern suburbs and Helderberg establishments.

One look at the vastly different quality of the opponents they face during the season makes one realise that it is a league in name only.  Fortunately, reason seems finally to have prevailed in the halls of power and the 2019 grouping has been considerably streamlined.  Down to the third tier go De Kuilen, HTS Bellville and Monument Park, while Somerset West go-getters Parel Vallei make the move up. 

What is more important, however, is that the Bulldogs are slated to play against all the other B league sides apart from Stellenberg plus a couple of Premier A sides for good measure.

The bottom line is that what follows represents the last review of a largely dysfunctional a second tier that you will ever have to read. 

Please note that while the records in brackets represent the entire season’s returns, the teams are in the order they finished in the Premier B log as this excludes all optional games.

Despite their not enjoying a particularly successful campaign, Stellenberg still maintained their supremacy, their 11-6 record reflecting accurately just where the Jade Brigade found itself in 2018 : a bit too good for the Premier B, but not yet good enough for more exalted company.

Six players were selected for the provincial Under 18 teams.  Lock Dylan de Leeuw – since spirited away to Paul Roos – made the Western Province Craven Week (CW) team; right wing Tharquinn Manuel, flyhalf Nivan Petersen and lock Nahum Johannes represented the Craven Week Invitation (CWI) side, while hooker Justin Cupido and loosehead Jason Jansen made it into the Academy Week (AW) team. 

The year started with a 19-36 setback against HTS Drostdy before the trip to the North-South Festival in Tshwane and two further defeats, at the hands of Menlopark (10-42) and Monument (19-41).

Eager to prove themselves, they crushed Strand (76-0) and Parel Vallei (74-10).  Then, when Glenwood dumped them 52-13 at Wildeklawer, Divan Batt’s boys bounced back with a 52-12 thrashing of Noord-Kaap.  Back in Cape Town, Brackenfell were dispatched 47-0, before a narrow 22-31 loss to Outeniqua in George.

From this point on they were only beaten once, 31-20 by Boland Landbou, while they saw off SACS (25-22), DF Malan (33-26), Bellville (13-0), Milnerton (54-5), Tygerberg (24-7), Rondebosch (31-12) and Durbanville (36-7). 

Petersen’s 170 points formed the foundation, while the side managed 83 tries, no.8 Josh Muller and right wing Likho Msengana weighing in with ten apiece.

There can be little doubt that Stellenberg’s commitment to self-improvement seems destined to continue to bear the fruit it so richly deserves.

DF Malan (15-1-2) deservedly struck a purple patch this year, the result of a long, painstaking road under the inspired guidance of coach Bertus Enslin.

From the early wins over Charlie Hofmeyr (37-0) and Swartland (38-3) right through to the 20-5 interschools victory at Bellville, the side played to its tried and tested pattern, only tasting defeat at the hands of Durbanville (6-52) and Stellenberg (26-33).

At the Glenwood Festival in Durban they beat Potch Volkskool (29-28) and Trinityhouse (19-10) before being held 22-22 by Goudveld.

Back in Cape Town, they dismissed Tygerberg (25-22), De Kuilen (33-5), Parel Vallei (54-14), HTS Bellville (45-0), Hugenote (29-12), Schoonspruit (33-21), Despatch (26-5), Strand (29-17), Monument Park (64-0) and Fairmont (45-0).

Flyhalf Damian Oosthuizen underpinned their success with an excellent 153 points, while counter-attacking fullback Tashriq Mynhardt and scrumhalf Jean-Louis Burger (fifteen and thirteen tries respectively) tormented defences everywhere, but nineteen players contributed to their haul of 87 five-pointers.

Whether the next generation can live up to the high standards set this year remains to be seen, but the 1st XV of 2018 will live long in the school’s sporting memory.

For Durbanville (8-1-10) the season was a major disappointment.  Much had been expected of them as they made a serious attempt to raise their game and thus their attractiveness to youngsters as a school with lofty ambitions, although both scrumhalf Monrey Titus and outside centre Juanré de Klerk were included in the CWI squad.

Unfortunately, although all their high profile outings (at the North-South Festival – 17-22 vs Waterkloof and 28-43 vs EG Jansen) and against Oakdale (21-39) and Outeniqua (13-47) ended in defeat, it was reversals in two local games that put paid to any hopes they might have had of taking over the reins in the Premier B league.

Although they had already lost 0-38 to Paarl Gym and beaten Milnerton 26-13 before the Tshwane event, they started the second term with a comprehensive 52-6 win over DF Malan, before losing with honour (17-24) to Wynberg, drawing 24-24 at Hugenote, losing 13-17 at SACS and 15-30 at Rondebosch.  Strand (38-15) and Brackenfell (13-11), but it was the crucial 27-28 defeat at Bellville that defined their season.

Piketberg (68-0) and Pate’s Grammar (52-5) were thrashed at Swartland and there were more wins, over Worcester Gym (47-0) and De Kuilen (52-0), but the damage had been done and the final nail was driven home at interschools by Stellenberg, 36-7.

Perhaps too much rested on the De Klerk’s shoulders.  If he sparked, so did the team and his 167 points certainly kept them interested throughout the winter, but nobody came close to his twelve tries.  Another drawback was the absence of lively no.8 André Bester for a large part of the campaign.

The age-group sides remain impressive; however, it will be interesting to see whether the players resist the temptation to abandon ship in search of more immediate success.

Despite suffering early defeats against HTS Drostdy (18-40) and Rustenburg (24-15), Bellville (12-6), for whom right wing Xavier Adams gained AW selection, quickly bounced back with comprehensive wins against Jeugland (45-0), Zwartkop (34-5), Tygerberg (47-7) and Strand (43-8).

May brought success against Parel Vallei (49-8), and Brackenfell (26-20) and Worcester Gym (29-25) before setbacks at SACS (22-43) and Stellenberg (0-13) gave the side a valuable sense of perspective ahead of their season-defining 28-27 victory over Durbanville.

The Swartland Festival saw them beat Despatch (26-12) and Hopefield (19-6) and easy wins at the expense of Milnerton (53-0) and Tygerberg RFC (44-12) alternated with home defeats against Wynberg (7-32) and DF Malan (5-20).

Flyhalf Deuvajio Solomons was pivotal to their success, not least for his 135 points, while Adams ran in a spectacular 22 tries and the tight cohesion of the loose trio of JW Loubser, James Boyes and Stefan van der Merwe ensured that they were always competitive in the tight loose.

Rumours of Tygerberg’s (9-8) demise proved greatly exaggerated, despite their losing their opening game 24-39 to Hugenote.  Two wins at TSRF 2018, against Bridgton (34-7) and Schoonspruit (40-21) were balanced by defeat against Bellville South (15-28) and three further setbacks at the start of the season proper (7-47 vs Bellville, 5-66 vs Bishops and 22-25 vs DF Malan), the first and last of which effectively brought an early end to their league title hopes.

Just when things were looking up after successes against Monument Parl (61-6) and Parel Vallei (31-17), HTS Drostdy burst their bubble again, pounding the Tygers 76-19.  Worcester Gym (26-0) and Piketberg (29-5) were comfortably negotiated in Malmesbury, as were HTS Bellville (63-5), before Swartland edged them 13-12 and Stellenberg saw them off, 24-7.

The season ended brightly, however, a 125-0 demolition of Elsies River setting the scene nicely for an unexpected, but well-deserved 19-8 interschools win at Brackenfell.

Many players were used through what proved to be an arduous season, but the reliability of full-back Chrisholm September (102 points) and no.8 Edja de Meyer and scrumhalf Thandi Hoyi (thirteen and ten tries respectively) were integral to their success.

Considering that they are about to be relegated to the third tier, it is somewhat ironic that De Kuilen (8-6) had one of their better seasons.

The Kuile lost their opening game at TSRF (0-10 vs Piketberg), won their second (19-17 vs Weston) and were handed a 42-19 hiding by New Orleans in their third. 

Things didn’t improve in the first scheduled fixture of the season as they went down 23-32 to Kasselsvlei, but they tasted success in both games in Oudtshoorn, beating the Struisies 15-7 and the very competitive Bridgton team 34-7.

May seemed to be a month best forgotten with successive defeats at the hands of Swartland (20-26), Strand (0-36) and DF Malan (5-33), but victories at the expense of Monument Park (11-10) and HTS Bellville (29-15) restored their confidence.

The third term started with a 29-15 win over Hamlets, after which Durbanville trounced them 52-0.  They had, however, saved the best for last, beating Bergvliet 61-0 and clinching their interschools match away to Worcester Gym 19-17.

Although many players got on the scoresheet, utility back Cole Collins (67 points) and left wing Gian Kleinsmith led the tryscoring stakes with five each.

Having started the season in some style – restricting Wynberg to a 29-38 scoreline and beating Strand (27-20), New Orleans (27-14), Klein Nederburg (38-3) and Schoonspruit (41-10), Brackenfell (9-8), who had utility back Raven Smith and left wing Marcqiewn Titus selected for the AW and CWI teams, promptly fell away when the second term started, losing 24-68 to Boland Landbou, Middelburg (20-25) and Duineveld (5-10) in Oudtshoorn, 0-47 to Stellenberg and 20-26 to Bellville.

Two fairly easy victories (22-7 vs Milnerton and 79-3 vs Hottentots Holland) allowed the Brakke to recharge their batteries before Durbanville edged them 13-11 at home.

A comfortable 33-19 win over Graaff-Reinet’s Volkskool, duly followed by victories against Hugenote (18-14) and Parel Vallei (50-0), hardly prepared them for the home interschools match against Tygerberg, which they lost 8-19 simply because they did not adopt the right tactics.

The lengthy list of players who got on the scoresheet attests to the disruption caused by injuries, one of whom was Smith who topscored with 54 points.  Titus dotted down eight times, while right wing Wiehann Julies and outside centre Jade-Lee Andreas each claimed seven five pointers.

Monument Park (6-1-7) also gave a better account of themselves than they have for several seasons.

Despite losing 7-29 to Vredendal, 33-49 to Groendal and 21-28 to Otto du Plessis, they downed Alexander Road 24-10, all before the season proper had got under way.  They then started their programme off satisfactorily, edging HTS Bellville 21-20, Primrose 29-21 and Hottentots Holland 18-10 before running into fellow B-leaguers Tygerberg and De Kuilen, both of whom beat them, 61-6 and 11-10 respectively.

They continued positively on their home turf, beating Parel Vallei 26-17, drawing with Milnerton 17-17 and trouncing The Settlers 66-0, but crashed 0-64 to DF Malan and 5-28 to Vredenburg.

Full-back Branden Pretorius might have led the way with 80 points, but the star performer in the Parkies’ ranks was undoubtedly workaholic flank Frank Kalonji, who ran in a remarkable fourteen tries.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s Strand (7-9) were much-feared opponents, not least for their monstrous front rows.  Regrettably much has changed, particularly with the Helderberg serving as a supermarket for at least one big league school.

After a pre-season 20-27 defeat to Brackenfell, they lost 10-13 to Overberg and 12-15 to Jeugland and beat Wesvalia 36-14 at Oakdale, but the start of the local league fixtures saw them thrashed 76-0 by Stellenberg and 43-8 by Bellville, both at home.

Charlie Hofmeyr (32-19) and De Kuilen (36-0) were efficiently dealt with, but Durbanville (15-38) proved too tough a nut to crack.  Encouraging victories over Volkskool (33-8) and Gill College (24-17) at the Swartland Festival provided reason to hope, but Bishops (5-81), DF Malan (17-29) and Hermanus (15-28) beat the Beach Boys.

However, the season did end happily with a 17-16 win over Swartland and a comfortable 38-14 interschools success against Hottentots Holland.

The team appeared to lack a recognised kicker until wing Cheswille Schamboua announced his arrival with 22 points against Charlie Hofmeyr.  He ended on 65 points, but it was disappointing to see how the side tended to struggle for tries, managing a total of just 50.

Realistically, HTS Bellville (7-9) have been flirting with disaster for several years now.  That said, they opened the season with a 10-3 win against JG Meiring, but could only lower Sutherland’s colours (27-0) at TSRF before going down to New Orleans (10-43) and Bridgton (15-24).

They might have beaten Hottentots Holland 22-7 and Somerset College 8-3, but the writing was on the wall with reversals at the hands of Monument Park (20-21), Vredenburg (16-27), Bellville South (3-38), Kasselsvlei (10-24), DF Malan (0-45) and De Kuilen (15-29) before the mid-year holidays.

After a 63-0 thumping at the hands of Tygerberg, they salvaged something from the season with a run of straight wins over Primrose 14-0, Hottentots Holland 28-0 and Labori 29-15.  Only lock Kyle Arendse’s five tries counted as any real contribution to the cause.

Next season does promise to be a lot more competitive within this grouping.  One can only hope that Parel Vallei, who retain a large part of this year’s squad, settles in quickly, but, with Thinus Pienaar guiding them, that is more than likely to be the case.



 

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