Will they even miss him ?  Although versatile Stellenberg hooker-cum-eighthman Josh Muller,
pictured here scoring against Milnerton last season, may have contributed ten tries
in 2018, his final year at school, indications are that the Class of ’19 may
manage quite nicely without him.  (photo : supplied)

The Old Mutual Agri Insure Boland Landbou Day, traditionally the first Western Cape schools rugby event of the year, proved to be as popular as ever, the huge marquee offering a wide range of local produce while the large number of teams threw themselves into their shortened matches with an energy that showed how eagerly the day had been awaited.

The two feature games were very different, Stellenberg’s 13-7 win over HTS Drostdy relying for the most part on an impressive defensive display, while Landbou took every opportunity to spread the ball wide, the result being an hour of generally entertaining rugby in which they posted an impressive 50-15 victory over a brave but shell-shocked Bellville team.

Stellenberg (10) 13  HTS Drostdy (0) 7

Both sides predictably launched themselves into the early rucks, leaving flyhalves Nivan Petersen (Stellenberg) and his Drostdy counterpart, Carlton Pietersen, to probe for touch to keep their sides going forward.  (Please note the different spelling of the second names !)

Only tigerish tackling by their forwards, with captain and flank Khyro van der Westhuizen and lock Tyron Rose prominent, kept Stellenberg afloat in the first ten minutes as the Donkeys exerted most of the early pressure.  However, the Worcester side’s lack of penetration was to prove their Achilles heel as Nivan Petersen proved unshakeable behind the Jade Brigade pack, thanks to the excellent service he received from scrumhalf Conwill Conradie.

When the ball finally reached the northern suburbs team’s backs they were quick to use it early on before Petersen found an attacking touch 17 metres from the Drostdy line.  Despite a fine clearance by Pietersen, Stellenberg continued to press and took the lead via a well-struck penalty by their pivot.  (Stellenberg 3 HTS Drostdy 0 - 15 minutes)

This advantage filled the Stellies with a confidence that only determined tackling by their Drostdy counterparts could check.  Nivan Petersen had by now established himself as the ringmaster in the game, whether it be sending his backline away or kicking for advantage. 

The first try of the match started with an elusive run by fullback Tharquinn Manuel, after which his flyhalf received the ball and promptly sold a dummy and sidestepped his way past several bemused defenders to score under the crossbar before adding the conversion. (Stellenberg 10 HTS Drostdy 0 - 17 minutes)

Tempers got a little frayed as frustration grew among the forwards, with the Jade Brigade losing a player for ten minutes for a tip-tackle.  The Donkeys couldn’t exploit their numerical advantage and Stellenberg drove back upfield, only for Petersen to fluff a regulation penalty from 20 metres.

The game turned into an exchange of kicks for several minutes until Pietersen set up an attacking line-out on the Jade Brigade 22.  His forwards turned over possession, but Drostdy continued to press with a five metre scrum.  Possession quickly changed hands, with the Donkeys’ right wing Tario Claasen being tackled into touch on the thirty minute mark. Half-time : Stellenberg 10 HTS Drostdy 0.

The opening exchanges of the second half were very scrappy, an astute Petersen cross kick ensuring Stellenberg’s ascendancy, and when Drostdy were penalised for going offside at a ruck, the Jade’s flyhalf took his score - and his team’s - to thirteen with a well-judged penalty. (Stellenberg 13 HTS Drostdy 7 - 36 minutes)

This seemed to galvanise the Donkeys as they went onto the attack, Pietersen setting up a line-out just outside the Stellenberg 22.  With the Worcester pack finally exerting some dominance, their backs’ hands let them down. 

A penetrative run from defence by the Jades’ inside centre Hadley Hadlow forced the Bolanders back, but great rucking and driving by lock Reinier Viljoen and flank Gysbert du Preez kept the Boland team in it.

Even when they made a mistake, Stellenberg were let out of jail for a small bribe when right wing Likho Msengana was impeded off the ball some fifteen metres from his goal-line.  Petersen predictably cleared and Divan Batt’s lads attacked strongly until Msengana lost the ball in a tackle.

Viljoen, aided by no. 8 Will Jones and hooker Wynand du Plessis, drove powerfully again, but poor handling neutralised their threat.

The game was building to an exciting finale, both sides going at it hell for leather, a basic handling error costing the Donkeys a certain try as time ran out.  Despite a huge Petersen clearance, the Drostdy team put everything into one final attack and were rewarded with a lovely five-pointer by reserve threequarter Elron McLeod.  Pietersen added the extras as the  whistle sounded to end the game.  Final score : Stellenberg 13 HTS Drostdy 7.

Stellenberg boast a very experienced fifteen, with only two Grade 11s, their key players being Conradie and Petersen, who is unfortunately Under 19 this year, who form a delightful partnership, while Rose and Van der Westhuizen stood out among the forwards.

I never thought I’d say it, but Drostdy lack size: there are no potential Wilco Louws or Robert Hunts in the making, although loosehead Benicio Kamfer, who played flank last season, has bulked up considerably in the intervening six months.

It could be a long learning curve for the Worcester team, but Renier De Villiers and his coaching team are bound to see to it that matters improve sooner rather than later.

Boland Landbou (15) 50 Bellville (8) 15

One never quite knows what to expect from the Farmers, especially when they are largely unknown players.  That will soon change, judging by the exhilarating rugby they produced, cheered on by their ecstatic home crowd.

It took the hosts barely four minutes to cross the Bellville line, captain and flank Reinhardt Spies forcing his way over from broken play.  Flyhalf CJ Snyman set out his stall with a fine conversion. (Boland Landbou 7 Bellville 0 - four minutes)

The Lions countered well from the restart, but found themselves on the back foot after conceding a ruck penalty.  Landbou’s response was brutally effective as they threatened down the right flank.  A ruck penalty allowed Snyman to extend their lead. (Boland Landbou 10 Bellville 0 - 9 minutes)

Only overzealousness prevented Oloff Bergh’s youngsters from scoring again immediately, but it wasn’t long before tearaway hooker Tehan du Plessis ended a brilliant interpassing movement with his first try of the game. (Boland Landbou 15 Bellville 0 - 14 minutes)

Bellville were fast realising that their only form of defence was kicking, which they managed to do quite well during the next period of play.  But then, even when Landbou lost a man to a yellow card for a ruck infringement, the northern suburbs side found out that Snyman’s boot was just as lethal out-of-hand as it was from the tee.

However, the Lions were rewarded towards the end of the half when hooker Cheslyn Kupido forced his way over for an unconverted try. (Boland Landbou 15 Bellville 5 - 25 minutes)

The visitors continued their fightback in the closing stages of the opening stanza and full-back Stephan Walters narrowed the deficit to seven points with a simple penalty right on the break. Half-time : Boland Landbou 15 Bellville 8

The second half largely passed in a blur as the hosts took the game by the scruff of the neck and shook it mercilessly. 

Three minutes in Du Plessis was on hand to take the pass from a quickly-taken tap penalty to register his second try, which Snyman converted. (Boland Landbou 22 Bellville 8 - 33 minutes)

An old bugbear came back to haunt the Farmers as they started to concede several penalties at ruck time.  Luckily for them, they weren’t made to pay for their lapses, but, when taken with some overextravagant handling.  They may find other opponents less generous.

Bellville even managed to push Landbou back at a few scrums before the locals regained their composure to exert full control in the final twelve minutes.

Next to score was inside centre Canan Moodie, who accepted a quick pass to dash over for Snyman to convert, as he did the final three tries. (Boland Landbou 29 Bellville 8 - 48 minutes)

Despite some lovely interpassing which gained Boland thirty metres, Bellville managed to return play to the home team’s half and even added to their score when no. 8 Kyle Milford  burst through to run twenty metres and dot down.  Walters converted. (Boland Landbou 29 Bellville 15 - 52 minutes)

Any thoughts of a Lions comeback were dealt three emphatic blows in the remaining eight minutes. 

First to score was reserve forward Isak Nel, who charged over for his side’s fifth try. (Boland Landbou 36 Bellville 15).

It may have taken the better part of an hour, but the Farmers’ backline finally got things together, spreading the ball to the two wings - Keanan Wentzel on the right, then Tarique Pietersen on the left - both of whom finished faultlessly, whipping the local support into a frenzy, in the last three minutes of the game. Final score : Boland Landbou 50 Bellville 15.

Bellville will have discovered their shortcomings the hard way in what was a bit of a mismatch.  They lack last year’s speed out wide and the loose forwards will have to move up a gear if the Lions are to pose a serious threat to any superior opposition.

Landbou were good enough on the day to banish those handling errors and ruck penalties for the time being, but there is room for improvement there both up front and out back.

Without any really large units, the pack is very athletic, while the backline showed, particularly towards the end, just how well they can finish.  Hopefully, they won’t be lulled into a false sense of wellbeing, given that they were up against a wilting second-tier side.

A wonderful day that not even some light mid-morning rain could spoil.  


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