2018 IN REVIEW (PT I) : THE YEAR OF THE BULLS

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Tough as teak !  Oakdale and SWD Craven Week flank Henco Beukes (in possession) surges
forward, supported by tighthead Pieter Maritz on his left, during the Bulls’ 37-34
away win against HTS Drostdy in April. (photo: Marlene Carstens)

 

This time last year found yours truly bemoaning the fact that, for some strange reason, both Oakdale and Outeniqua, the two major schools in the South Western Districts, had experienced a simultaneous downturn in their fortunes during that season.

In complete contrast, even a casual glance at the 2018 Team Stats will suffice to confirm that, while the Quaggas sailed much the same course this winter, the Bulls of Oakdale put together a remarkable string of results.

Not only that, but their players dominated the SWD Craven Week side, filling all but three positions in the first choice line-up, including six of the seven backline slots, so often associated with the fleet-of-foot youngsters Outeniqua seems to churn out year after year.

Full-back Clyde Lewis, right-wing Trevino Gordon, centres Janco Klinck and Etienne Steyn, half-backs Derick Jooste and JD Strydom, flank Henco Beukes and locks Hanno Gous and Pierre Uys joined front-rowers Pieter Maritz, Keanu Hendricks and Magnus Muller in the starting side, with loose forward Vernon Paolo and wing Joaquin Taute securing places on the bench.

There was still room for Stefan van den Bergh, Neil Francis and Hendrik Viktor in the Academy Week team.

The dominance of the White Bulls’ backline can be seen in the team’s impressive record.  A 46-12 thrashing of Liceo Mendoza at Brackenfell was followed by home festival victories over the Grey Cherries (31-19) and Lichtenburg (38-0) and romps against a Namibian XV (67-7) and St Ignatius (USA) (67-19) at the Paarl International Schools Festival.

An eye-opening 37-34 away defeat of hosts HTS Drostdy paved the way for a comfortable 39-21 success at home to Durbanville before the youngsters saw off Noord-Kaap (56-24) and EG Jansen (46-22) at Wildeklawer as the hard part of the fixture list loomed, during which they tasted defeat against Paarl Gym (39-47) and Paul Roos (21-42), although there was the sweet taste of success against Outeniqua (42-35).  For the doubters, these three scores showed just how determined Malan du Plessis’s charges were to win, even if that could only be done by outscoring their opponents.

The third term was as quiet as usual, Marlow being dispatched 47-3 in Riversdale, Paarl Boys’ High (47-29 in Paarl), Framesby 33-6 (in Port Elizabeth) before an end-of-season hiding (19-56) away to a Boland Landbou side that hadn’t looked up for it during the year.

Tries were obviously never a problem in the Bulls’ 13-3 season – their 675 points included 106 of them – what was striking was that, apart from wing Trevino Gordon, whose 24 tries earned him second place behind Schoonspruit’s Connor Mahoney, who managed 25 in 23 outings, centre Janco Klinck (15) and full-back Clyde Lewis (12)and lock Hanno Gous crossed the whitewash thirteen times.  Despite a quiet start, flyhalf JD Strydom grew into his role as the kicker of choice, racking up a personal tally of 110 points.

A highly successful year was also one filled with most attractive rugby, the Bulls averaging 42 points per game against their opposition’s 23 – there’s no arguing with statistics like that ! 

Outeniqua’s woes started at interprovincial level, where only left-wing Ridge Gaffley and flank  Braam van Huyssteen made the CW starting selection, while tighthead Bryan Williams, lock Pieter Ferreira and scrum-half Abré Minnie were on the bench.  There was better representation, however, in the AW squad, where utility back Herchelle Otto, left wing Aubern Bezuidenhout, flyhalf Zinedine Robinson, flank Bennett Nortje, lock André Pretorius and front rowers Eldon Lotz and Jonathan Joseph were all included in the starting line-up.

Still, for a school like Outeniqua, this constituted a serious vote of no confidence at a relatively early stage in the season.

In hindsight, the Quaggas’ dismal 7-7 record shows that they might have benefitted from a loosener at Brackenfell prior to the tough environment of the North-South Festival in Tshwane, where prisoners are seldom taken and they lost 50-22 to Garsfontein before making a fist of it against Menlopark (19-20). 

There followed the canned-lion hunt in Paarl, where St Ignatius (USA) 91-0 and the Italian All Stars (47-13) provided little more than token opposition. 

A 10-21 home defeat at the hands of Paarl Boys’ High was the only further preparation the by now beleaguered squad had for Wildeklawer, at which the pride of George beat EG Jansen (34-31), before slumping 13-27 to unbeaten Glenwood.

The local trials period only left time for a less-than-emphatic 31-22 home win over Stellenberg, and setbacks against HTS Drostdy (25-18 in Worcester) and Oakdale (35-42 Riversdale), the latter providing some hope that their fortunes were changing, although a pretty regulation 50-7 trouncing of Langenhoven Gym couldn’t really be taken as proof either way.

The third term only yielded three games once Oudtshoorn had given the shocking notice that they were unable to fill A teams in the various age-groups for Interschools.

The first match saw the wheels fall off at Paarl Gym, who obliged by obliterating the Quaggas 57-0, after which all that remained were a 22-14 against Framesby in the Windy City and a spirited 47-13 whipping of a Durbanville side that had lost the use of several cylinders long before the final whistle.

The paltriness of the 432 points they mustered (ave. 31 per game) becomes all the more apparent when one considers that they shipped 342, at an average of 24 per game. 

The fact that no.13 Darren Fortuin contributed 178, which included fourteen tries, is indicative of his crucial role in the team.  He did the kicking, both out of hand and from the tee, to such an extent that, during the Durbanville game, one was often left wondering what purpose Robinson was supposed to be fulfilling, other than airing the no.10 jersey.

Trailing Fortuin were Gaffley and Ferreira on eight tries apiece, the latter having achieved that number with three five-pointers against Durbanville.

Although the two major schools enjoyed very different fortunes, the way suddenly lay open to Oudtshoorn’s Langenhoven Gym and their archrivals Punt of Mossel Bay to seize the day and grab much attention with vastly improved performances.

Whereas in previous years provincial representatives from Gym were as few and far between as the team’s successes, the 2018 vintage was unlucky to see only prop GW Lund (CW bench) and centre Bennie Stemet (AW) selected.

An excellent campaign (10-4) started well with a 27-24 win over Argentines Liceo Mendoza, a 65-7 demolition of Labori and a 17-12 success against Oosterlig at the Oakdale Festival, before Duineveld overpowered them 34-12. 

The Lions’ narrow win over George (25-22) didn’t prepare their supporters for the stunning results that were to come.  Fair enough, Nico Malan outlasted them 41-31 in Ostrich City, but the spirited contribution the hosts made on the day laid the foundations for the landmark 88-0 decimation of Oudtshoorn and a feisty 27-24 come-from-behind win away to Swartland.

The remaining home games resulted in comfortable victories over Langenhoven High 56-7 and Bredasdorp 47-20, the away ones seeing them beaten 50-7 by Outeniqua and 34-26 by Montagu, but they did cruise home against PW Botha (45-7), Bridgton (33-3) and, most importantly, Punt (33-22).

Stemmet’s twelve tries and Lund’s ten paled into relative insignificance against the contribution of rising star, full-back Jorell Arries, whose individual haul of 39 points in the Struisies fixture launched him to an eventual total of 182, which saw him placed fourth in the entire province.

Other stars who emerged included half-backs Eaj Carew and Bradford Hendricks, wing Johan Muller and outside centre Adrian Palmer, who managed 29 tries between them.

Punt (9-1-3) might not have had quite as far to rise as Gym, but they too had plenty of reasons to be proud of their efforts.

Two players, no.8 Joshua Hermanus in the starting side and front rower Sydney Volkwyn on the bench, made the CW squad, while the AW side included full-back JH Marx, scrumhalf AJ Mondo and flank Lwazi Mpato.

An early start to the campaign resulted in a 28-7 defeat to Nico Malan at Wittedrift, after which wins over Worcester Gym (29-24) and strong showings in the first two matches of the Arthur Johnson Week (15-3 vs Schoonspruit (NW) and 17-14 vs Parel Vallei) were somewhat marred by a 0-29 beating at the hands of Frikkie Meyer.

A comfortable 59-24 home win over the Seavuna combined side was followed by a nailbiting 18-18 draw against Hermanus and it didn’t take long for the earlier confidence to return as  PW Botha 66-10 and George 56-17 were thrashed before the mid-year exams.

The third quarter opened with a triumphs over Bridgton (21-17) and Despatch (22-15), which set them up for arguably the school’s finest result in many years, a 31-24 defeat of HTS Daniel Pienaar in Uitenhage, after which even losing 22-33 at home to Langenhoven Gym at interschools may not have seemed too bad.

No-one really made an impression on the scoring statistics, Hermanus leading the way with twelve tries and Marx contributing 63 points.

Perhaps the only pity is that the side no longer chooses to play Outeniqua or Oakdale.  The nett result is one might never know how good a side they really are.

Oudtshoorn (3-1-7) are deteriorating at a frightening rate, their three wins coming against Argentines Bahia Bianca (28-17), Cradock (21-15) and PW Botha (25-20), although managing a 17-17 draw against Porterville at TSRF 2018 represented something of which to be proud.

Langenhoven High of Riversdale (9-2-5) recorded the kind of stable, if unspectacular, results one has come to expect from them, early successes against Namaqualand (27-15) and Emil Weder (22-3) being tempered by a 27-27 draw with Otto du Plessis and a 19-26 reversal against Weston, the last three all coming at TSRF 2018.

The high points of the rest of the season all arguably came in home games, against Montagu (13-13), Bredasdorp (30-28) and Swellendam (33-15), the only real low being a heavy 18-37 hiding at the hands of Gerrit du Plessis in the Riversdale derby.

True to tradition, the side was built on the foundation of a solid pack of forwards in which hooker Dean Britz led the way with an impressive twelve tries, followed by the old pro, no.8 Alistair Miggels on seven, flank François van Wyk (six) and prop Emilio Joseph (five).

Kicking duties were capably taken care of by full-back Reevin February, whose 132 points  included eight visits to opponents’ trylines.

Fair enough, they might have been facing opponents who pose a very different threat level, but that that doesn’t alter the fact that they invariably gave of their best, something which one might not be able to say of some of the considerably higher profile teams in the area.  



 

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