They don’t come better than this !  Adrian Alberts (in possession), the Boishaai
and WP Craven Week lock and captain,
seen here in action against Bishops,
exhibited great maturity in his leadership of the province’s
Under 18 side last week. (photo: Poppie Terblanche)

After the outstanding displays by the Western and Province and Boland teams at the recent youth weeks in Paarl, some might be forgiven for thinking that what comes next represents something of an anti-climax, little more than the closing lines in one act of the careers of these stars in the making.

Those people couldn’t be more wrong: the annual highlight for every schoolboy rugby player, be he in the 1st XV or the 4ths, is the annual inter-schools fixture that dangles like a carrot a month or so in front of him.

So it is that the next few weeks constitute the run-in to the season’s climax for every youngster.  With a few exceptions, the meaningless cross-section fixtures are gradually coming to an end as the August showdowns loom large.

Saturday 21 July 2018 sees Paarl Boys’ High host Oakdale, Outeniqua visit Paarl Gym, SACS head out to Boland Landbou, Wynberg face Paul Roos on the Markotter.  Only Rondebosch – who welcome Stellenberg to the Tinkie Heyns field – and Bishops – at home to Strand – have matches against WP B opponents. 

It wouldn’t surprise many schools rugby fans if the SWD Eagles team hadn’t just stayed on in Paarl, seeing that virtually all the players will be in action at Brug Street or the Jan Kriel, come the weekend.

The Boishaai vs Oakdale game could be a very close-run affair. 

The Bulls claimed the laurels in the pretty province when they beat the Quaggas 42-35 in May in just one of the titanic battles – the hosts lost 39-47 to Paarl Gym and 21-42 to Paul Roos, both at home, last term – that have taken place just outside Riversdale this season.

Those results suggest that Sean Erasmus’s lads are in for a tough assignment against a side loaded with Craven Week players. 

A lot is going to depend on lock Adrian Alberts and loose forward Evan Roos, who can expect to find themselves shadowed by Henco Beukes and Hannes Gous, and their many provincial team-mates in the face of a backline onslaught that is likely to strongly feature the attacking skills of centre Etienne Steyn and Janco Klinck, left wing Trevino Gordon and full-back Clyde Lewis.

It is thus significant to note that, if the Galpille have had one problem this season, it has been the failure of their backline to hit its straps.  This will simply make their visitors all the more determined to dominate this facet of play.

In terms of momentum, the hosts cannot afford to slip up as Interschools at Faure Street is just two weeks away, on 4 August 2018.

Paarl Gym ought to have enough artillery to see off Outeniqua on the other side of this picturesque town.

The top-level provincial performances out back of centre Dawid “Duffy” Kellerman, left wing Stravino Jacobs and scrumhalf Dylan “Bobby” Alexander bode well for the northern half of Paarl in the vital weeks ahead.

The visitors never want for attacking options in this department, but centres Darren Fortuin and Hendrik Hattingh, wings Ridge Gaffley and Herschelle Otto and full-back Matthew Thorne haven’t managed to convince the doubters when the chips are down.

When it comes to the big men, prop Eldon Lotz, lock Pieter Ferreira and loose forwards Braam van Huyssteen and Bennett Nortje are also going to find the going tough against players of the calibre of Jovan Bekker, Juan Beukes, Mark Etzebeth, Dean Nieuwoudt and the two Sieberts, Hendri and Pierich.

Without trying to oversimplify matters, if Gym can starve the George side of anything like decent backline possession, they should already be halfway to winning the game.

This match will be broadcast live on DSTV Channel 210 from 13:55.

Their results indicate that Boland Landbou have had a rather dreary year to date so they will be eager to get their, er, cattle in a row before they face Paul Roos away on 4 August 2018 and Oakdale at home two weeks later.

SACS had a very successful tour of Zimbabwe in the first week or so of the mid-year vacation, but the handsome victories they recorded could come back to bite them.  Sure, their confidence must be high, but one can hardly compare the likes of St John’s of Harare with the Farmers and Oloff Bergh’s team will be only too happy to let them know that.

Full-back Darren Hendricks garnered much praise for his Craven Week displays, which should hopefully fill centres Erik Lamprecht and Sebastian de Klerk with greater confidence in the latter stages of the campaign.

You can bet there’s still a lingering aftertaste of Landbou’s defeat at Wynberg early in May.  What better way to finally close that chapter than by beating that team’s archrivals ?

If the good folk of Wynberg weren’t aware of the full force of the troops Paul Roos has at its disposal before the youth weeks, they certainly have no excuses for not knowing now. 

The Young Maties are an awesome force from the fearsome front row of Robbie Rogers, JJ Kotzé and Hanru Kotze up front to the fast five – Brendon Venter, Regan van der Westhuizen, Tiaan Pretorius, Remy Engelbrecht and Kade Wolhuter – that bring up the rear.

Then there are the likes of Mink Scharink, Matthew Cordy and polished pivot Juan Mostert in between.

Wynberg has enjoyed a great run this winter, but might just be in for a rude awakening at the Markotter on Saturday. 

Hooker Jason Alexander and prop Luthando Woji can be forgiven for going into this game with mixed feelings.  While they both acquitted themselves well in the flagship Craven Week side, they will be even more aware than their team-mates just what a hurdle they are facing.

The Rondebosch – Stellenberg match promises to be a reasonably close encounter.

Bosch have had their good (against SACS, Durbanville and Drostdy) and less spectacular (pretty well all the rest) games this season, a general observation which also applies to their opponents.

The Jade Brigade is more potent up front than it is at the back, with lock Dylan de Leeuw having excelled for the Craven Week side at Brug Street.  The hosts will look to Mihlali Mgolodela and Seth Christian to lead the way against them in this department.

However, the southern suburb side boasts a handful of wild cards at the back, where Jaco Barnard, Conor van Eden and Ross Stone guide the attacking talents of Thoubaan Gabriels and Dalvon Blood, an x-factor player if ever there was one.

Speaking of blood, Stellenberg have demonstrated a distinct taste for the Premier A variety in recent years, so the home supporters had better be in good voice.

Bishops have the easiest assignment of all the top-tier teams when Strand arrive at the Piley Rees on Saturday.

The lads from the Helderberg may have won both their games at the Swartland Winter Festival, but they didn’t manifest any signs of areas in which they might test the Platinum Blues, whose polished fifteen-man style is likely to expose some glaring defensive weaknesses.

The Premier B fixtures don’t offer much in the way of excitement, with only Bellville, away to Milnerton. likely to face serious opposition.  They will have to cope with skilful flyhalf, Mikyle Vraagom, who was very impressive for the WP Craven Week Invitation team.

Durbanville are at home to a Worcester Gym side that looked rather undercooked against Tygerberg in Malmesbury last week, Tygerberg shouldn’t have much difficulty disposing of hosts HTS Bellville, but Monument Park might have to have their wits about them when hard-working Parel Vallei come to Kraaifontein.

It would appear that all the SWD supporters can look forward to is Bridgton’s home match against Punt.

The Boland cupboard is also a little bare, what with biggies HTS Drostdy hitting the road to play Duineveld in Upington, Hugenote heading to the big hills to take on Charlie Hofmeyr and Swartland playing their match against New Orleans on Thursday.

The best prospects seem to be offered by Stellenbosch’s home match against Robertson and Montagu’s trip to Caledon to face Overberg.

Elsewhere, Hopefield are likely to beat visitors Labori, Porterville ought to hold too many aces for hosts Dirkie Uys, Piketberg are favourites away to Augsburg Gym, Schoonspruit’s current form is likely to be too much for Vredenburg down at the coast and Vredendal can’t be looking forward to the arrival of Upington with much excitement.

Next weeks major attractions are Paarl Gym vs Bishops, Paul Roos vs Rondebosch, SACS vs Paarl Boys’ High, Boland Landbou vs Stellenberg, Bellville vs Wynberg, Hugenote vs HTS Drostdy, Oakdale vs Marlow and Outeniqua vs Framesby.

Something for everyone there.


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