IMG 1670.1

“Tell me, Richardt, are you feeling lucky ?” Talismanic Charlie Hofmeyr front-ranker
Athi Maginya
thunders towards Strand full-back Richardt Wessels (15) during
the Ceres
team’s 26-12 home win last Saturday. (photo: Gail Barnard)


If last weekend proved anything, it was that anyone who thinks that betting on horses is risky would be well advised to steer clear of predicting schools 1st XV rugby results.

Could you have foreseen
Paarl Boys’ High beating Grey College in Bloemfontein by fifteen points (46-31);
Boland Landbou losing on the Farm to Framesby, even if it was only by three points, 16-19;
Stop-start Bishops holding hosts HTS Drostdy to as narrow a margin as eight points (26-32);
Rondebosch having to mount a desperate rearguard action to beat Bellville 39-34 two weeks just after being handed that infamous 34-32 lesson by Hugenote;
Paul Roos digging deep enough to down SACS 29-24 in Newlands;
Injury-stricken strugglers Outeniqua coming within reach (38-43) of in-form Stellenberg;  Grey High registering a second win over WP Premier A opponents (Wynberg 40-30 at Hawthornden) in as many weeks, or
nicely-balanced Durbanville being obliterated 84-17 on their home turf by Brackenfell ?

All on the same day ?

Mmm, I didn’t think so.

Apart from four games in which top level sides face off against each other around the province, Saturday 20 May 2017 also provides several potential giant-killing opportunities for two second-tier hopefuls who host top-flight southern suburbs schools. 

The intrigue doesn’t stop there, either, with four tight contests between leading Boland sides just as likely to get the crowds out of their seats.

To start with, the four feature games.

Boland Landbou, who were spectacularly unspectacular last weekend, will definitely not be underestimating this Saturday’s visitors, Wynberg.

The Farmers were markedly sub-standard against Framesby, while Wynberg put up a very creditable performance, albeit in defeat, against Grey High. The boys in black always aim so high that even the slightest ripple has been known to tilt their boat.  Well, last week they encountered a sizable wave with sobering results. 

Fortunately, the Berg have long since moved beyond setting themselves exaggerated expectations, but, even so, when they get into the habit of losing, the time will eventually come when how elegantly they have done so will no longer be an acceptable excuse.

One factor in the visitors’ favour will be that Landbou might be so shaken by the scathing criticism they will have faced this week that Justin van Winkel’s lads could just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

It might not be pretty, but it could be a fascinating tussle.

HTS Drostdy are in such a snug place right now that their losing to a depleted Outeniqua team that wasn’t that chipper to start with, even away from home, is virtually inconceivable.

By all accounts, last Saturday’s visitors, Bishops, put in their best performance of what has so far been an up-and-down campaign, but even that wasn’t enough against what is arguably the current form team.

The Donkeys thoroughbred backline might be a thing of beauty, but it requires a really dedicated pack to provide it with the necessary ammunition and that is precisely what juggernaut lock Bron-Lee Mouries and company proved to be.  Outscoring a Bishops side that runs in four tries is definitely something of which to be massively proud.

By the second game at Wildeklawer, the Quaggas’ tank were already nearing the empty mark, proving that even such perennially redoubtable regional giants go through quiet years just like everyone else.

The Donkeys are tipped to give George’s finest lots to contemplate ahead of Oakdale’s arrival for next week’s local crunch match.

That is, of course, dependent upon how the Riversdale Bulls weather their visit to formidable Paarl Gym.

Two weeks’ break from hostilities – regional trials followed by an out-weekend - could be a mixed blessing, although it’s hard to imagine any Oakdale side in any age-group turning up with a bit of ring-rust on matchday, especially when it marks the start of a four-week obstacle course involving games against Outeniqua (away), Boishaai (home, at Akkerfees) and Paul Roos (away).   

Gym don’t have any perceptible weak spots.  The scrum works efficiently together, with two go-to guys in lock Adriaan Ludick and no.8 Henco Martins, while the backs boast two level-headed midfield playmakers in Francois Marais and Dawid Kellerman who are fully capable of harnessing the talents of right wing Stravino Jacobs and dynamic full-back Muller du Plessis.

Oakdale had recouped sufficiently from their 8-32 defeat to Monnas on day one of Wildeklawer to dole out a 40-19 hiding to Garsfontein on the Monday.  That’s some recovery, even more so when you consider that the Garden Route unit had the luxury of a tee-man as accurate as Pietie Uys to assume the goalkicking responsibilities from slightly off-colour Jay-Cee Nel.

A weak Oakdale pack is as rare as government efficiency.  Dian Bleuler and SP Kleynhans can mix it with anyone in the front row, Daniel van den Berg in the second row has been among the tries and the loose trio isn’t shabby either, thanks to the efforts of JC Lourens and rising star le Roux Pepler.

Whatever the result, one can only hope that the match isn’t decided by a controversial try as happened last time the Bulle came to the Jan Kriel ground.

The last of the so-called top flight fixtures doesn’t really look like living up to that description, judging by the form book.  That said, the delightful disrespect with which most teams have been treating that metaphorical piece of writing could see hosts Rondebosch suddenly rocket up through the gears enough to send Paarl Boys’ High packing.  Or not.

The Bosch backline has had to reinvent itself already this season, with new faces popping up at the extremities (wing and full-back) on an unpleasantly regular basis.  During the most recent rejigs, the Canigou Carnivores have shown extended periods of defensive confusion against Hugenote and Bellville, these coming on either side of a decisive 43-21 defeat at the hands of Paarl Gym.

If that doesn’t convince you that the signs don’t look good for them, look at the superhuman feats performed by their visitors from Auret Street, the last of which being the overwhelmingly emphatic 46-31 crushing of normally insuperable Grey College,

Boishaai’s unique strength derives from several sources. 

It is common cause that they recruit widely, so surely those who don’t make the top-flight are jealous of those who do ?  Not in the least.  Their common goal as a group would have been indelibly forged during their shared experiences on the tour to New Zealand.  Everyone has bought into The Plan plus taking so many players on the tour means that there is a huge pool of reserves who can step up at a moment’s notice in every position.      

Smart money says that, realistically, the only hurdle left for them to clear is Interschools.

Two weeks ago the prospects for two Premier B teams down to play Premier A opposition this weekend would have looked very different to what they are now.

With the exception of a 41-17 reversal against enterprising Windhoek High at Wynberg, Durbanville have been putting in a stream of encouraging results.  There was no warning sign of the 84-17 meltdown to which they subjected their home crowd against Brackenfell.

If you call that a rare blip on their radar, they still have the wherewithal to beat visitors Bishops this weekend.  Full-back John Mentoor and pivot Jean Aucamp have plenty of capable players around them, although they might not feel like that right now.

Bishops may have taken a 35-14 pummelling from KES at Wynberg, but they’ve shown  more than enough improvement since then to silence their critics. Well, most of them. 

They were the first side not to lose to SACS this year and, even in defeat, they were in great form in Worcester last Saturday.  Outside centre George Spencer and left wing Ross Goodwin crossed the whitewash, the former twice.  What is more, when they lost their goalkicker, scrumhalf William Rose, hooker Ghaalib Kenny stepped up to add a conversion to his try.

Sorry, Durbies, this looks like smiley time for the Platinum Blues.

No-one was paying much attention to Brackenfell until they whacked Ben Vorster 59-17 in Oudtshoorn, followed it by scaring Menlopark before going down 29-31, then dumped De Kuilen (45-8) and Durbanville (84-17), both away from home. 

When flyhalf Quan Eymann plays, there is an added dimension to an attack that already oozes confidence.  He and fellow fast men Raven Smith, Waylin Booysen, Justin Greeff, Jade-Lee Andreas and Marcquin Titus have notched a total of 36 tries this season. 

Then there’s the “French Connection” (Jean-Luke Human, Jean-Pierre Vorster and Jean-Louis de Lange) up front who’ve also chipped in with thirteen five-pointers. Impressive.

One of Saturday’s opponents, SACS’, best performances of the year came on their northern suburbs hosts’ field, where they trounced Ligbron 60-14 at TSRF 2017, but that was around seven weeks ago.  Most recently they have lost their 100% record, drawing 24-24 at Bishops and falling 24-29 to Paul Roos last Saturday.

While the Young Ikeys had to face the Maroons without captain Lucky Dlepu, this was offset by Jordy Hop’s return to his elusive best.

Can the Brakke match their bite to their very loud bark ?  It’s possible, but SACS should have the street savvy to consign them to the dogbox.

Whatever the final Boland Craven and Academy Week sides eventually look like, don’t be fooled into thinking that the province begins and ends with HTS Drostdy.  There is just as much talent and buzz in even the furthest reaches to keep the pulses throbbing, as the following  fixtures illustrate.

Hermanus have put their pipe-opener defeat at Hugenote behind them to won nine in a row, averaging 34 points a game.  The tries have been scored by a long list of players, the icing  being provided by the teework of Lionel April and Johann Krog.

On Saturday the Whalers welcome tough guys Montagu, a team that doesn’t like to give an inch.  Driven by experienced points machine Maxwell Klaasen at centre, they have a 7-2 win ratio, which is not bad for a little town best known for dried fruit !

Porterville will be keen to put last week’s home defeat by rising stars Hopefield behind them when they welcome another daunting unit, Augsburg Gym.

No.8 Adriaan Haasbroek has scored nine tries, but the Cobus and Callie show revolves around accomplished fly-half Denzil Douries, whose 87 points thus far include six tries and three drop goals, one of each coming against Bishops.

Augsburg have found the going so tough this year that wily pivot JP Viviers’ 140 points constitute 56% of their current harvest.

The Bulls are tipped to make the locals proud.

Bonnievale, who have been deprived of several fixtures by injuries among their opponents and mechanical problems, head for neighbours Robertson.

Neither side has a single star player, so they’ll take the field on fairly level terms, although the visitors lost 23-36 at home to Montagu on Tuesday.  Will the Red Wine Farmers dominate the Dairymen ?  If you live close by, it’s worth popping down for a look-see.

Finally, Vredenburg, who are on a roll they haven’t enjoyed in almost a decade host a Hopefield side that has run up 200 points in its six matches, despite seeing budding star Brent Manuel move to Hugenote at the beginning of the school year. 

There could well a bit of an edge to the game as more and more Vredenburg rugby hopefuls appear to be hopping on the daily bus to Hopefield, drawn by the oval-ball revolution gripping this beautiful village.

And you thought that a school’s size has something to do with its sporting achievements ?  How wrong you are !  

Next week’s goodies ?  Not much, really.  Just Paarl Boys’ High vs Paul Roos, SACS vs Paarl Gym, Noord-Kaap vs HTS Drostdy, Outeniqua vs Oakdale, Stellenberg vs Rondebosch and Wynberg vs Bishops in the top division, Brackenfell vs Bellville, Durbanville vs Tygerberg and De Kuilen vs DF Malan in the second tier and two much-anticipated local derbies deep in the Boland in which Augsburg Gym host currently unbeaten Charlie Hofmeyr and Piketberg travel a few picturesque country miles to play Hopefield.


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