LIFE JUST GETS TOUGHER FOR ’BOSCH
Slippery as the proverbial eel. Bishops scrumhalf Liam Kloosman tries to wriggle his
way around Paarl Gym hooker Liam Compion (2) during the visitors’ 31-10 win
on the Piley Rees on Saturday 6 April 2019. (photo: Candice Wharton)
After what can best be described as an interesting opening weekend, attention inevitably turns to this coming Saturday as the southern suburbs sides try to put a round of defeats - both expected and unexpected - behind them.
The fixtures that immediately capture the imagination are Affies’ visit to Paarl Gym and Grey High’s home date with Paul Roos, while on the purely local front Rondebosch host Boland Landbou.
While I do not consider myself qualified to comment on sides outside this province, I am pretty confident that the two Western Province teams must start as favourites in both of these matches.
Paarl Gym weathered a fiery Platinum Blue onslaught on the Piley Rees with their usual aplomb before upping the ante in the latter stages to crush the life out of their hosts. The measured approach which Gym adopts in every game means that it is difficult to figure out if they’re ever under stress.
This might happen on Saturday, but their starting fifteen looked very slick, the loose trio of Juan Wilson, Louw Nel and Pierich Siebert never giving an inch.
Half-backs Bobby Alexander and Johan Smal are ruthlessly efficient and in Stravino Jacobs, Stephan du Toit, Ethan James and Curwin Gertse they have more than enough pace and guile to impose themselves on any opponents. At the back Tiaan Swanepoel exudes quiet confidence.
Paul Roos probably took it rather easy against Rondebosch with a view to their PE trip and the looming SANIX trip.
This fifteen is as close as one can get to a perfect combination. The front row of Corné Weilbach, Meiring Ebersohn and Robbie Rodgers are already familiar with opponents’ trylines and no. 8 Jarod Cairns is a virtually unstoppable thunderbolt.
Kade Wolhuter marshals the backline expertly, allowing the likes of Ruben Labuschagne, Andrew Pegg and counterattacking full-back Cade Croy to express themselves, which they happily do without hesitation.
So to local action, where Rondebosch are quickly realising that having two home fixtures in the opening weeks is a mixed blessing. Sure, it gives the cheerleaders the chance to whip up some early spirit, but it’s not that easy to do when there isn’t much to cheer about.
Fresh from defeat against the Maroon Machine, they now face a Boland Landbou side that appears to be in fine form, having put their early 64-17 rout at the hands of Helpmekaar behind them. It is no secret that the Farmers produce their best rugby when they don’t have record to protect and their free-flowing play is a joy to behold.
Captain Eugene Snyders and centre partner Canan Moodie are adept at utilising the ball fed to them by flyhalf CJ Snyman. Toss in the devastating running of full-back Boeta Moolman and you have the makings of a nasty reality check for the Canigou Carnivores.
Bosch have a strong front row, which includes Lukhanyo Vokozela and Troy Fisher, but when they look up and see Tehan du Plessis and Hen-ko Smuts in front of them, even they are bound to feel just a little bit uneasy. One suspects that rangy lock Matt Gray will find himself up against it too.
The other two Premier A teams face second tier opposition.
Wynberg got a 62-31 hiding out at the Farm last week, while Stellenberg continued to build on their burgeoning reputation with a fourth victory in five starts.
Their strength currently seems to lie up front where locks Mika Cowley and Tyrone Rose and live-wire flank Khyro van der Westhuizen are going to provide a few headaches for Reece Bryce and company.
The ‘Berg actually have the better looking backline, although the scrumhalf battle between Matthew Damonze and Stellies’ Conwill Conradie could be intriguing.
The Hawthornden faithful will be hoping that their experienced midfield campaigners Devon Pretorius and Rethabile Louw might tip the scales in their favour.
Bishops visit Bellville, one of their bogey grounds in recent years, but should be able to subdue and conquer the local Lions.
Even against Paarl Gym last Saturday, the team was functioning very nicely as a whole, which might surprise those who think only of backlines when it comes to the Platinum Blues.
Scrumhalf Liam Kloosman is very quick on the dart, while pivot Sacha Mngomezulu never looks fazed, even under pressure. Then there are players like Luca Liebenberg, Michael Ford and Ross Vintcent to add to the pain loose trio of captain Isaiah Wharton, Connor Evans and Charlie Yates inflict.
Bellville never stand back and let their opponents dictate matters - just ask last year’s Durbanville side.
It should be a good contest, but Wes Chetty’s band of youngsters ought to take it.
Speaking of Durbanville, Shaun Huygen’s troops picked a wonderful time to break their duck for the year when they beat visitors SACS 33-24, but this week it’s the Bulls of Oakdale who come to the lush edge of the northern suburbs.
After an iffy start, Malan du Plessis’s outfit scaled a formidable peak last week when they edged the HTS Drostdy side 42-40 in Riversdale.
The effects of that victory could have one of several consequences. Did that mighty tussle take a heavy physical and mental toll on the pride of Riversdale, or did it in fact reinvigorate them at just the right time as Wildeklawer looms in the not too distant future ?
Unfortunately for the Durbeez, I’d go with the latter, but big Vince van Dyk and centre Xander van der Westhuizen aren’t going to give up without a fight.
The pick of the Boland programme seems to be the Hugenote vs Hermanus match on Murrayfield in Wellington.
The hosts have few stars, although Emile du Plessis and Freddie Mouers have stuck their hands up, while Graham Bellingan seems, in Boldwin Hansen, to have found a flyhalf capable of taking over from Lionel April.
This game normally produces high scores, which in turn means running rugby will be the order of the day.
That fixture apart, only Montagu vs Stellenbosch looks even mildly appealing, with the Muscadel Manne still reeling from the shock of a home defeat to neighbours Robertson last weekend.
Stellenbosch don’t seem to represent the same threat as last year just yet, although, with canny Ben Malan at the helm, that time is unlikely to be far off.
If you live in the Malmesbury region, you might take a trip up to the Wesbank ground on Friday to see unbeaten Schoonspruit take on a Porterville team that put the disappointment of last weekend’s 15-26 defeat to Swellendam behind them by trouncing Steynville 36-8 on Tuesday.
Pretty well all the SWD sides are on the road : Punt to Worcester Gym, Langenhoven Gym to Nico Malan in Humansdorp, Langenhoven High to Montana, also in Worcester, and Bridgton to Grootbrak.
Several Premier B sides are down to play WP HUB teams this week, leaving DF Malan vs Strand as the stand-alone game.
It is also interesting to note the high number of byes for a Saturday this early in the season. HTS Drostdy, Outeniqua, Oudtshoorn and Swartland will all have their feet up at the weekend. Oh, and SACS and Paarl Boys' High.
Next weekend is Easter and the usual festivals, which means hard graft for some teams and a brief respite for others.