Always near the ball.
  Hugenote tighthead Altus Steenkamp (3) contests possession
with several Brackenfell opponents in last year's match. (photo: Lucia Duvenhage)

This first high profile fixture of the local schoolboy rugby season, in which Hugenote meet visitors Tygerberg in beautiful Wellington on Saturday 14 March 2015, will see the hosts determined to erase unhappy memories of the 43-23 hiding meted out to them in Parow last March.

To this end, the Blackies can call upon the services of seven of last year’s senior squad.

Tighthead Altus Steenkamp and big second rowers Dion Welman and Tertius Lamprecht will once again provide the core of the tight five, while flank Anthony Creighton also gained valuable top-level experience during the last campaign.

The backline has a very sharp look to it with quicksilver scrumhalf Wihan von Wielligh, pacy wing Gerhard Nel and nimble full-back Dillon Feast all expected to test many an opposing defence this winter.

The Tygers boast eight veterans themselves: skipper Casper Nel (loosehead), 2014 Craven Week hooker Shane Farmer, flank Uwe Geissler, no 8 Juanro Augustus, scrumhalf Mark Weir, last year’s full-back Marco Stassen at pivot, reserve back Tyron Scholtz and scrumhalf-turned-right-wing Damian West.

If they are to stand a chance of winning, a lot will depend upon Gavin Beresford’s pack being able to starve their opponents’ backline of clean possession. Should that not happen, Lance Sendin’s men should start 2015 with a home win.

Unfortunately, both institutions start the season almost as concerned about players who will not be there than the ones who will be, having lost a disturbing number of A team age-group players during the summer.

Family transfers and the enticement of star players to the big Western Province Premier A outfits may be unfortunate facts of life to sporting nurseries such as these, but, by any standard, the loss of twelve of the Tygers’ 2014 Under 15 A over the last six months is a particularly bitter pill to swallow. One can only hope that a solution will be found before this group rises to senior level.

Provided that their backline is successfully rejigged, Schoonspruit should be able to record their second success in a row when they host Hawston at the Wesbank grounds on Saturday. Mind you, the addition of a few heavy forwards would also provide a much-needed boost for their pack.

Up the N2 Punt will host Nico Malan. The Mossel Bay side remains a largely unknown quantity, while not much can be read into their visitors’ 32-3 win over PW Botha in Somerset East last weekend. One suspects that the EP outfit will be considerably sharper after having used the Gill College trip to iron out their combinations.

Kairos will be having mixed feelings about welcoming New Orleans to Heidelberg. The hosts slumped to a 9-5 defeat against Emil Weder last time out and will be well aware that Zyno Fredericks’ boys will be intent on posing a far tougher set of questions.  Late flash: This game has been cancelled.

And so to some notes on the two local ice-breakers played down south last weekend.

Despite being short of a handful of potential first-choice players, Stellenberg boasted far too much firepower for Parel Vallei from Somerset West, running out 67-0 winners under floodlights before an enthusiastic – if rather hungry and thirsty – crowd on Friday 6 March at the Durbell RFC fields.

As it turned out, the Jade Brigade management (and the several other Premier B coaches in attendance) would have left the ground none the wiser as to the strength of their unit as eager replacements were granted the opportunity to step up to the plate against plucky, but outclassed opponents.

When their forwards had managed to establish their superiority, the Stellies half-backs, Fouché van Rooyen and Liam Harmse, sent their eager three-quarters away on numerous forays, elegant John Brand (left wing and captain on the night) and Schalk Carstens (outside centre and designated kicker) each dotting down twice.

Players who did their reputations no harm were livewire lock Ethan Adams, a no-brainer for Man of the Match, and nuggety full-back Sydney Bantom, whose boundless energy and opportunism deservedly saw him notch the eleventh and final try.

In Malmesbury at lunchtime on Saturday Schoonspruit were made to sweat a lot harder for their 36-3 win over Waveren from Tulbagh than the margin of victory suggests.

The hosts’ surprisingly light tight five found their highly motivated counterparts quite a handful and matters were not improved by uninspiring play in the first half by the half-backs.

Fortunately for their vociferous supporters, they gradually found their feet to run in five tries, the pick of them coming from reserve backs Percival Abdol and Kern Papier midway through the second half.

With a trip up to St Stithians looming, the Spruit coaches will be looking forward to a marked improvement over the next few weeks.

PS : The Newlands Schools Day programme is up in the Fixtures section.



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