LAST CHANCE TO CATCH THE THREE P’S

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Simply Evanly !  Boishaai’s SA Schools no. 8 Evan Roos manages to get his pass away
despite the attention of several SACS players during the Winelands team’s 25-10
win up in Newlands on Saturday 28 July 2018. (Photo: Poppie Terblanche)

 

What many would have us believe is the “Big Day” is finally upon us. 

On Saturday 4 August 2018 the four out-of-town WP Premier A sides meet, with Paarl Boys’ High facing Paarl Gym at Faure Street and Paul Roos welcoming Boland Landbou to the Markotter in Matieland.

Irrespective of whether you believe all the hype surrounding these matches – and there is plenty of it doing the rounds – these fixtures do represent the last chance for local spectators to see three of them in action on local soil: the Paarl schools hang up their school jerseys after Interschools and Paul Roos’s last match takes place in Bloemfontein to do battle with mighty Grey College. 

Just as this weekend marks an ending for at least two of the Winelands teams, it also signals the start of the second round of the southern suburbs derbies, with Rondebosch visiting Wynberg and SACS hosting Bishops.

The Paarl face-off is so famous for defying pre-match predictions that one is reluctant to commit oneself either way. 

That said, it almost looks like Boishaai have gone out of their way to ensure that they take the field carrying the underdog tag.  Their season itself seems to have been very poorly planned in parts.  For example, they only played two matches in May, losing both to Grey College and Paul Roos, the required rescheduling of the former game meaning that the Rondebosch fixture went out of the window this season.

The team almost reflected this stop-start planning and a larger number of youngsters did duty than in the prior, more successful seasons.  Fortunately this did not throw their key players off enough to prevent them from gaining SA Schools colours, locks Adrian Alberts and Emile van Heerden and no.8 Evan Roos all deservedly cracking the nod. 

The defeat against Paul Roos notwithstanding, Gym have been mechanically ruthless throughout the winter to the extent that one finds it difficult to imagine anyone, even their neighbours, from throwing them off their stride at this stage.

Only left wing Stravino Jacobs might have been selected for the national side, but centre Dawid Kellerman and flank Dean Nieuwoudt both gained honourable mention.

Gym may have Juan Beukes and Mark Etzebeth to counter Alberts and Van Heerden, but one is less sure about the blue half of Paarl’s defensive capabilities in the face of Gym’s almost poetic backline.

Player-by-player match-ups are deceptive; a broad-based appraisal seems to favour the Lehmann-Rossouw unit to pull off a much longed-for win, but one could probably find twice as many cogent arguments suggesting a nice farewell present for meistercoach Sean Erasmus.

The one given is that, mindful of the huge weight of expectation on their young shoulders, the forty or so young gentlemen involved on Saturday will hold their heads high throughout, allowing rugby to emerge as the ultimate victor.

Paul Roos, who beat the Farmers 33-24 in an epic match out at Windmeul at roughly the same stage of last season, are odds-on favourites to have an easier passage this time around.

Such has been their coaching staff’s confidence, the Young Maties have been blooding new players out back in the last few matches.  Needless to say, all the experiments have paid off handsomely; it’s been that type of year.

The four-(tighthead Hanru Jacobs, centre Brendan Venter, hooker JJ Kotzé and flyhalf Juan Mostert)-one (full-back Darren Hendricks) split of SA Schools players in the two sides neatly sums up the Maroons’ advantage.

Boland pride themselves on having a very workmanlike backline, one that has remained largely intact throughout the campaign, with kingpin playmaker Erik Lambrecht showing his class inside Sebastian de Klerk and quick men Bertus Baard and HD van der Merwe.

Unfortunately their hosts have Kade Wolhuter, equally at home at 10 or 15, Remy Engelbrecht and Regan van der Westhuizen to slot in alongside Mostert and Venter – and then there’s that monster front row, which also includes highly-pedigreed Robbie Rogers.

Sorry, Oloff, all bets are off on this one.  In fact, they have been for several months already.

Wynberg set the squirrels amongst the guineafowl at Rondebosch’s Tinkie Heyns field with a convincing win in the first round of local fixtures back in April and don’t really seem likely to let their guests level the score, come Saturday.

The key to Berg’s success has been in their not having to make wholesale changes during the winter.  The results have not necessitated them, nor have injuries been a major problem.  For instance, when Di Livio van Wyk has been unfit, centre Devon Pretorius or even scrumhalf Dylan Munro has stepped up to the goalkicking plate, if you’ll pardon the mixed sporting metaphor.

The forwards started the year with the advantage of having played a large part of 2017 together.  Six or so months on, that hasn’t changed.

Bosch’s major problem has been finding a midfield combination that gels.  Then, when they seemed to have found one, a suspension broke the spell and they had to start again. 

Flyhalf Ross Stone has looked comfortable and tactically astute, but the only impact outside him has come from exciting full-back Dalvon Blood, but bringing his talents into play has not always been easy.

SACS have never looked really out of any of their games.  Regrettably, they have never seemed to be in control of the situation, either.

In this team of journeymen, the fact that no-one has risen above the rest has tended to mean that everyone settles into a slightly less adventurous pattern rather than aspires to a more demanding one.  Then they promptly prove to be their own worst enemies, committing crucial errors which their opponents are more than grateful to seize upon.

That is probably the most dangerous mistake you can possibly make when you are playing a side like Bishops, which specialises in turning the smallest sign of weakness into a whip with which to scourge you.

Harry Newman and Victor Allen have realised their good form in midfield, while Michael Roche and Bingô Ivanisevic are fully-fledged finishers.  Young pivot Jordan Meyer underlined his growing maturity with a fine dropped goal last Saturday against Paarl Gym.

Provided the Platinum Blue tight five come to the party, there is no reason to suggest that their unbeaten 2018 southern suburbs run won’t continue, especially seeing that they are preparing themselves for the arrival of archrivals St Andrew’s in a week’s time.

The two Premier B meetings – DF Malan vs Monument Park and Stellenberg vs Tygerberg – don’t look particularly attractive, the home sides being expected to win fairly handsomely in both cases, but other teams in this tier face daunting opposition.

Neither Brackenfell nor their visitors, Hugenote, have been all that active of late, so making a prediction for this one could prove tricky, but Strand will have their hands full against coastal neighbours Hermanus, who are performing oh-so-smoothly under the baton of elegant SA Schools no.10 Lionel April.

The third game sees Durbanville host an Outeniqua team that everyone was ready to write off after their dismal 0-57 thrashing at the hands of Paarl Gym two weeks ago.  However, the Quaggas managed to sort themselves out sufficiently to beat EP big guns Framesby 22-14 in George last Saturday.

The Durbeez started going up through the gears three weeks back, two handsome wins (68-0 vs Piketberg and 52-5 vs Pate’s Grammar of England) at the Swartland Festival laying the foundation for the whitewashing of Worcester Gym (47-0) and De Kuilen (52-0).

Fair enough, Outeniqua are likely to pose a whole new level of problems for the likes of Juanré de Klerk, Mondrey Titus and company, but the very vocal home support could go some way to balancing the scales.

HTS Drostdy entertain Northern Cape royalty over the coming weeks, with Noord-Kaap coming to town on Saturday and Diamantveld making a similar trip next Friday.

Having taken a bit of strain away to Duineveld before winning 34-28, the Donkeys will be well aware that the Griqua sides definitely don’t represent push-overs.  Furthermore, added pressure will be on them to end their season on a positive note.

Eagles supremos Oakdale travel to Port Elizabeth to play Framesby, who, as has been mentioned above, went down 14-22 to Outeniqua last Saturday.  The Bulls have had a stellar season and are highly unlikely to slip up now, with only a visit to the Farm to play Boland Landbou still to come.

The only local matches this weekend feature Punt (vs Despatch) and PW Botha (vs Langenhoven Gym).

Several interesting matches take place in the Boland as schools finish off their programmes before their interschools finales.

Hopefield are confident that their time has finally come when Swartland hit town, with much depending on the contributions of the local half-backs Gregan Papier and Nathan Engelbrecht.

The Porterville – Schoonspruit clash could be a nailbiter, although the form of the Malmesbury team’s backline suggests that they could return home successful.

Two more centrally-located showpieces see rejuvenated Robertson take on the successful Langenhoven High team from Riversdale and Stellenbosch try to recover their form against Caledon’s Overberg.

The young Charlie Hofmeyr side will be up against it when Montagu come to Ceres, as will little Bonnievale, when they host Piketberg.

There’s very little on next weekend; in fact only HTS Drostdy vs Diamantveld on Friday and the eagerly-anticipated annual clash between Bishops and St Andrew’s of Grahamstown at the Piley Rees on Saturday.

But quality beats quantity anytime, right ?  



 

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