BISHOPS WEATHER EARLY BOSCH ONSLAUGHT
“And, Trevor, Sam can fly !” Two-try Bishops hero lock Sam Rudston soars high to claim
line-out ball during his side’s 36-26 home victory over Rondebosch on Saturday.
(photo: Caleb Bjergfelt)
Bishops put a rather indifferent start behind them, after which they trailed by twelve points in as many minutes, to finish relatively comfortable 36-26 winners over neighbours Rondebosch on their Piley Rees field on Saturday 8 June 2019.
A rather foggy and chilly morning gradually gave way to a beautiful, clear winter’s day, which meant ideal conditions for both the players and the huge body of spectators that always attend this derby fixture.
The opening stages saw Bishops gather the kick-off and punt into the Bosch half where the visitors’ full-back Conor van Eden fielded the ball and responded by putting his side into a good attacking position.
When lock Matt Gray was caught in possession, no.8 Josh King was on hand to shuttle the ball out to left wing Lehan Botha, but the tigerish Bishops defence stalled the attack on the tryline.
A penalty allowed Bosch to set up a five-metre line-out, but a skew throw in gave the hosts a scrum from which pivot Sacha Mngomezulu managed to find the safety of the touchline some 27 metres from his line.
A great take by Gray and a half-break by his scrumhalf Ishma-eel Safodien led to the ball finding its way to back to the lanky second-rower, who made several hard metres before returning the ball to the no.9 whose long pass gave left wing Lehan Botha the luxury of an unattended goal line for the opening try. (Bishops 0 Rondebosch 5 - seven minutes)
It was Gray who collected the restart, but Van Eden’s indifferent kick down midfield gave the Platinum Blues, who had been strangely quiet up till now, a welcome attacking opportunity which ended with the ball in touch thirty metres from the visitors’ line.
Bosch stole the line-out, lost the ball and regained possession in quick succession, giving Van Eden the chance to clear the danger.
When Mngomezulu was unable to find touch, the Bishops forwards were slow to retreat, conceding a penalty. A quick Safodien tap saw flyhalf Kian Davis pass to Botha, who ran a brilliant line to scythe through the bemused defence for his second try. Van Eden added the conversion. (Bishops 0 Rondebosch 12 - 12 minutes)
This second setback seemed to galvanise the Platinum Blues and right wing Luca Liebenberg ran a wayward grubber straight back at Rondebosch. Despite losing the ball, the hosts were awarded a scrum, but could make little headway in the face of a resolute Bosch defensive line, although hooker Keagan Blanckenberg almost managed to break through.
Fortunately, the home team kept cool heads and held onto the ball at a ruck on their opponents’ line before tall lock Sam Rudston broke through from five metres out to open his side’s tally. Full-back Matt Lennett was on target with the conversion. (Bishops 7 Rondebosch 12 - 19 minutes)
Bishops had finally wiped the sleep from their eyes and left wing Sam Marthinussen briefly stretched the Bosch defence, only for the hosts to concede a needless penalty when the ball was moved back inside.
A trademark clean take by Bosch no.8 Josh King was followed in short order by a penalty, which Van Eden put out midway between halfway and the Bishops tryline.
The home side retained possession, Lennett sending Liebenberg on a speculative run. Bosch returned the ball, only for Mngomezulu to see an attacking possibility, launching a long kick onto Van Eden, who was caught in possession.
The hosts cleared the ensuing ruck with characteristic speed and ran the ball to the right, where a long pass gave Liebenberg enough room to dot down on the corner flag. Lennett put Bishops ahead with a magnificently gauged conversion. (Bishops 14 Rondebosch 12 - 27 minutes)
Mngomezulu was able to keep the pressure on Bosch when Safodien broke clear, but Bosch were adjudged to have obstructed their opponents. A knock-on from an unruly lineout tap put the hosts on the back foot and the visitors’ captain, inside centre Jordan Collier, made good metres on the crash ball.
Bosch seemed to have regained their earlier fire and had Bishops in reverse gear, but were penalised for holding on, tempting their hosts to run out of defence. They seemed likely to lose the ball, but good work by scrumhalf Liam Kloosman saw the ball safely into touch thirty metres from his goal line.
Once again the Bosch forwards made good use of their line-out superiority to set up their side’s third try. The ball was quickly shifted to the right where Davis ran a great line to cross virtually untouched midway out, despite some optimistic appeals for obstruction. Van Eden converted. (Bishops 14 Rondebosch 19 - 34 minutes)
Another Kloosman dart led to a powerful drive by the home pack, but the vital scoring touch seemed to be lacking, until the scrumhalf went to the blind side to send Liebenberg in for his second try. Another slide rule kick raised the flags as the half-time whistle sounded. Half-time: Bishops 21 Rondebosch 19.
The second stanza opened with Bishops in a far more positive mood than had appeared to be the case in the first half. However, a midfield fumble gave Rondebosch the ball, Davis and Mngomezulu trading kicks until the visitors were deemed offside, allowing the Platinum Blues’ pivot to find touch fifteen metres inside the opposing half.
Van Eden was unable to find much relief with a penalty awarded for a high tackle, but loosehead Lukhanyo Vokozela ensured that Bosch maintained their attacking position.
Proof of the new spirit surging through the home side’s veins then came when they stole a Bosch line-out put-in, the centres drew their defenders and released Liebenberg for a great try in front of the scoreboard. (Bishops 26 Rondebosch 19 - 42 minutes)
Van Eden ran the restart back at Bishops, but was caught near the halfway line. Bosch managed to steal possession, but knocked on under the now constant pressure their hosts were applying.
A yellow card for deliberately impeding the taking of a penalty didn’t help the visitors’ cause, but Lennett didn’t quite have the range to add to his team’s tally, Van Eden pushing Bishops back to ten metres inside his half.
Mngomezulu came briefly to the fore, the danger caused by his huge hoist only ending when Marthinussen was hemmed in. The flyhalf then almost broke Bosch hearts when he charged down a flat attempted clearance by Davis, but was unable to control the ball as it bounced awkwardly.
Van Eden’s touch gave his side only temporary respite some fifteen metres from his line. Liebenberg shuttled the ball to the left where Rudston was on hand to claim his second touchdown of the day. (Bishops 31 Rondebosch 19 - 52 minutes)
Lennett was next to probe the Bosch defence with a fine run, but his side had to be content with a penalty advantage for a high tackle, with which Mngomezulu found touch ten metres from the visitors’ tryline.
The Platinum Blues appeared to have scored a try, but an infringement in the final movement meant they had to settle for a scrum advantage, from which they promptly squandered possession with poor passing.
The stoic defence that has characterised the Rondebosch side this year saw them frustrate another Bishops surge, forcing their hosts to concede a penalty for not releasing the ball.
When a crack did appear, it saw their pack driven back over the line, Blanckenberg being credited with the try. (Bishops 36 Rondebosch 19 - 64 minutes)
Overconfidence seemed to creep into Bishops’ play as they knocked on in a favourable position shortly after Marthinussen had been forced out in the corner.
A thrilling finish was set up when a long speculative punt out of defence by Rondebosch was snapped up by their lightning-fast outside centre Dalvon Blood, who outpaced the despairing defence for a dash all of 70 metres to score at the posts, Van Eden goaling with a drop to save precious time. (Bishops 36 Rondebosch 26 - 67 minutes)
Although a win was unlikely, given the shortage of time left, Bosch threw everything into attack with Vokozela prominent once again.
The hosts took advantage to threaten with an attack of their own in the dying seconds, but were denied by the referee for a second time. When Van Eden attempted to put his wing away with a punt from the resulting penalty, his kick bounced cruelly into touch, much to the elation of half of the spectators. Final score : Bishops 36 Rondebosch 26.
Call it the cliched game of two halves, but the approach shown by the visitors in the first 35 minutes completely overshadowed that of their hosts, while the reverse was true of the second half.
Had both backlines been on song as much as their spectators, this might have been a try fest. As it turned out, it was left to several individual efforts to rescue the two teams’ fortunes at crucial stages. All in all, it was a typical derby in that neither side really dominated, but both sides could have won.
* The Western Province Premier A and B logs will be published on Monday 10 June 2019.