And the Maroon Machine just marches on ! Paul Roos tighthead Corné Weilbach ploughs
his way through several Southland players during his side’s massive 93-5 victory
on Wednesday 27 March 2019, day two of the World Schools Festival
at the Markotter. (photo: Franna “Smiley” Lombard)
The 2019 Western Cape schools rugby season officially gets off the ground on Saturday 6 April with enough action available to please even the most demanding follower of the game.
Two of the main attractions happen to be right next door to each other as Bishops take on Paarl Gym at the Piley Rees and Rondebosch host mighty Paul Roos at their Tinkie Heyns field, but there’s a lot more elsewhere as Wynberg visit Boland Landbou, Paarl Boys’ High welcome Outeniqua and, further afield, HTS Drostdy travel up to Riversdale to play Oakdale.
While it would seem unrealistic to expect any of the southern suburbs sides to come out on top against their Winelands opposition, there may be just be a glimmer of hope for a Bishops side that enjoyed a very successful tour of Ireland, losing only to the powerful Ulster juniors.
Although the three good wins that followed must imbue the Platinum Blues with hope, the sheer relentlessness that their northern Paarl opponents are already showing at this stage of the season should temper their optimism.
Helmut Lehmann and Pieter Rossouw’s youngsters can boast the scalps of highly-rated Monnas (43-29) and Menlopark (38-23), both arguably as strong as anything Ireland could throw at their hosts.
The Bishops team is very much a work in progress as the team that performed so creditably at age-group levels is shaped and polished with an eye on 2020. The great x-factor that Wes Chetty’s team offers is, as always, their electric ability to run the ball from virtually any position.
There will definitely be a very large crowd holding thumbs that they can do just that on Saturday.
Paul Roos looked stunning in their opener against Southland (93-5), but went slightly off the boil on several occasions against Napier, despite their comfortable 62-7 winning margin.
It is at loose forward, where outstanding no. 8 Jarod Cairns and Jacques Mostert operate, that they are at their most dangerous, which is not to underrate the contribution of tireless loosehead Robbie Rodgers, who has a great love for opposition trylines.
Bosch will be hoping that their front row can at least stem the tide. Both Troy Fisher and Lukhanyo Vokozela impressed at Wynberg, while lock Matt Gray is as dependable as ever.
The backline will struggle against fast men of the ilk of midfielders Ruben Labuschagne and Tiaan Pretorius, wings Luke Burger and Andrew Pegg.and elegant counter-attacking fullback Cade Croy, all expertly directed by flyhalf Kade Wolhuter.
Boland Landbou must be grateful for their two successful outings at the World Schools Festival as they may have gone some way to burying the memory of the 64-17 humiliation they suffered at the hands of Helpmekaar at the North-South event.
Nonetheless they have some fine attacking backs in Eugene Snyders and Canan Moodie, while the never-say-die attitude of hooker Tehan du Plessis never fails to motivate the big men around him.
Wynberg are pretty lightweight by anybody’s standard and will struggle to impose themselves on the Farmers’ defence, especially on the latter’s home ground.
It is all well and good to have a jack-in-the-box scrumhalf like Matthew Damonze, but he can’t set up the attacking options for a backline that includes the experienced Devon Pretorius and Rethabile Louw at centre without a steady supply of clean possession, something which his forwards may struggle to provide.
Boishaai had a brief stutter against Helpmekaar (20-20) at Garsfontein, but silenced any murmurs of concern with a stunning last-minute win over Monnas.
Half-backs Wian van der Sandt and Kian Meadon have been together long enough to read each other’s games accurately and, with outside centre Quan Horn eager to torment opponents, they boast the wherewithal to make life uncomfortable for an Outeniqua side whose flattering 65-0 hammering of weak Brackenfell hardly prepared them for the rigours of Tshwane, where they lost both games, 24-28 to Garsfontein and 20-27 to Affies.
In Matthew Thorne and Curtley Smith the Quaggas do have backline players capable of sowing destruction, but Rhynardt Rijnsburger and his Brug Street packmates are unlikely to grant them the clean ball to do so.
SACS face a relatively gentle task when they visit a Durbanville side that struggled both before the holidays at the Brackenfell Day and in Tshwane at the North-South festival.
If ever one needed proof of just how much fortunes can change between two seasons, Oakdale and their guests, HTS Drostdy, provide it in spades. The Bulls only lost three times in 2018; the Donkeys, four times. Come 2019, both of them have already lost two games, interestingly enough each of them one against Stellenberg, before steadying their respective ships.
Oakdale won their first and last outings at their Mutual and Federal Agri Insure Festival, while the Worcester giants registered three wins out of three at the Uitenhage North-South week. Needless to say, both will be intent on maintaining their upward trends and a tense game of cat and mouse is predicted.
There are also two across-the-mountain matches to entertain locals up the Garden Route. Oudtshoorn host PW Botha and Langenhoven Gym roll out the mat for George. No predictions about the first of these, although Oudtshoorn are rebuilding very efficiently, but the Lions are expected to deal summarily with George.
Nothing jumps out at one in the Boland as at least one region is holding its annual trials day, but the Montagu vs Robertson match could be a close-run affair, both sides having won their first three games, only to lose on the final day at Oakdale, while Worcester Gym face a potentially tough hurdle when they come to Malmesbury to play Swartland, although neither of the sides set the TSRF alight during the holidays.
The pick of Western Province Premier B fare appears to be Parel Vallei’s debut in which they play DF Malan in Bellville.
The Bulldogs will be oozing confidence, having run ran up two very large scores at the recent Wynberg Festival. They boast two dependable goalkickers at halfback in Juan Cornelius and Markus Dempsey, and a backline that contains the considerable firepower of powerful centre Gethin Josephs and elusive full-back Leonard de Leeuw.
In the other games in this tier, Stellenberg should run up a big score against Brackenfell, while Bellville are likely to compound Strand’s misery.
Next week’s programme includes Paarl Gym vs Affies, Boishaai vs SACS, Rondebosch vs Boland Landbou, Wynberg vs Stellenberg and Durbanville vs Oakdale locally, while Paul Roos take on Grey High in the Windy City.