MAROON COMEBACK CROWNS THE DAY


Young star rising.
  Paul Roos full-back Joshua Vermeulen leaves several Affies players
in his wake as he scythes through their midfield on Saturday. (photo: Inus Grobler)

The Paul Roos 150 Rugby Day on Saturday 28 March 2015 on the immaculately-manicured field that is the Markotter proved a resounding success.

The organizers courteously delivered a programme that more than proved the maxim that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well: an enchanting day featuring sixteen teams drawn from well-known rugby-playing schools around the country strutting their stuff in front of a massive crowd liberally dotted with greats from the sport’s local fraternity.

While Stefan Jordaan and his band of helpers had every base covered in terms of preparations and presentation, the one thing they couldn’t guarantee when putting together the programme was the 2015 quality of all of the teams

It transpired that a few factors did, in retrospect, dull the sheen of proceedings, albeit ever so slightly.

Firstly, one of the things that makes school sport so unpredictable is that even the biggest schools undergo the occasional lean year. Secondly, several top schools could not be accommodated due to their featuring in the hosts’ fixture list later on, in addition to which still others had local commitments in their home unions that had been drawn up well in advance.

And so there were a few rather one-sided clashes and one or two fairly droll affairs, but memories of those were quickly – and indelibly – erased by two superb exhibitions provided by the mighty Maroons and ruthless Rondebosch.

Hugenote (7) 10 Hermanus (3) 8

The two teams involved in the dawn patrol took a long time to size each other up – and then did very little to probe the weaknesses they had found.

Blackies scrummie Wihan von Wielligh raised hopes with a trademark dash and dot down, but these were never to be realized as the Whalewatchers gradually got into their stride in their first match of the season.

The second period saw the Wellington side forced to defend, which they did stoically, their makeshift defence only being pierced by a piece of individual brilliance by reserve back James Mao-Cheia, who cut a diagonal swathe through the Hugenote defence, sending in left-wing Tino Pretorius for a try that narrowed the gap to two points.

SACS (10) 18 Langenhoven Gym (0) 7

The Young Ikeys took an early lead via tries from lock James Brewer and flank Dylan Hadzigrigoriou,but only threatened once more in the half via a fine run by full-back Athi Gazi.

Despite the Oudtshoorn lads drawing close when veteran wing Shelwyn Deysel scored a converted try, any thoughts of an away win were, however, dashed by a Jordan Chait penalty and a a five-pointer from SACS no.8 Alex Halvorsen.

Oakdale (31) 71 Landboudal (0) 0

Anybody surprised by the Bulle’s big win in Uitenhage last week quickly made to realize that this was no freak result when the Riversdale unit took the Jacobsdal team apart and left the pieces lying around in a clinical display of brilliant attacking rugby.

From Bertie de Bod’s opener, it was a procession as right wing Alexander Wallace and lock and captain Adré Smith each crossed their opponents’ line three times, with inside centre William Eybers hot on their heels with two tries.

As if this wasn’t enough, full-back Darren Adonis slotted seven conversions to complete the rout.

Boland Landbou (38) 45 Worcester Gym (0) 5

The Farmers boasted just too much firepower for a remarkably game Bosvark team, the score ultimately being kept within reasonable bounds by a need not to risk the Windmeul side ahead of their European tour, which starts next week, once victory had been assured.

The Landbou halfbacks, Jondré Williams and Danrich Visagie, each notched two tries and distributed the ball with confidence throughout.

OK, there were lots of black-clad reserves on at the time, but, willing to the very end, the Worcester side even took a warmly-applauded tighthead in the closing stages.

Paarl Gym (43) 74 Pietersburg (0) 5

Rumours of the Limpopo side’s strength this year evaporated with unseemly haste as Gym turned on the charm with some brilliant running rugby, illustrated by the fact that ten of their twelve tries went to the backline.

George Lourens silenced critics of his abilities at flyhalf with a cool 29 points via three tries and seven conversions. Taigh Schoor (3) and lanky left-wing speedster Max Thalwitzer (2) also gratefully took whatever chances came their way.

Patronising it may sound, but Pietersburg’s refusal to throw up their hands and surrender largely went a long way to allowing the northern Paarl side to maintain their relentless structure and discipline throughout.

Rondebosch (14) 35 Outeniqua (10) 10

Eyebrows that were raised after the Bosch win against Paul Roos at Newlands on Tuesday joined the hairline after this match in which the perennial local also-rans provided emphatic proof that they will be having a big say in WP Premier A matters this season.

While every single player played his part, it is impossible to ignore the dazzling contribution made by the two diminutive cruise missiles on the southern suburbs side’s wings. Mike Mavovana scored two tries, but it was Amani Minani who set up the scintillating opener for full-back Yaseen Jacobs.

Flyhalf Darryle Kameel may have overrelied on his boot, but there were more dropped and wayward passes in this Quagga performance than in an average season.

The truth is Rondebosch stuck to the task at hand resolutely, never ceding the advantage to the George side, even when full-back Manie Libbok closed the gap to four points before the break.

Such was the Bosch dominance throughout a game they never considered losing that they confidently sent on several substitutes in key positions well before the end; Outeniqua had nothing left to give.

Paarl Boys’ High (10) 22 Diamantveld (0) 12

The lack of their first-choice 14 and 15 and lock Ruben de Villiers hardly excuses a stuttering performance by Boishaai against a very enterprising Diamantveld side from Kimberley.

Tries by Tighthead Leo Kruger and full-back Rayhann Lombaard gave them a ten point half-time cushion, but honours were even in the second half-hour, even though no 8 Khanye Ncusane and baby bomb right wing Elester Becker did produce sparkling touchdowns.

Diamonds’ full-back Keaton Gordon and reserve back De-an Ackerman brought the visitors close, but they found the Strepies blanket defence impenetrable.

Paul Roos (3) 29 Affies (12) 12

Sporting their 150 jerseys with thin maroon and white hoops, the hosts provided an unforgettable final 35 minutes of breathtaking rugby to send their many supporters home in ecstasy.

The huge Affies side dominated the first half to such an extent that nervous glances were exchanged long before the break as tries by full-back Henco Jordaan and centre Eddie Fouché underscored their superiority.

Whatever happened at the water-break may forever remain a mystery, but a totally revitalised Paul Roos team dominated the second half from start to finish as everything that could go wrong for the visitors did.

Outside centre Nico Leonard may have galloped in for his side’s first five-pointer after charging down a clearance kick, but it was the clinical precision with which superb young full-back Joshua Vermeulen sliced through a hesitant defence to sprint in from 35 metres out that confirmed the turn-around.

Flyhalf Damian Willemse was held up inches short of the line before muscular right wing Troy Payne celebrated his comeback after a lengthy injury spell and no 11 Jason Myburgh added the icing.

As if his try wasn’t proof enough, Vermeulen’s nine points with the boot served to herald the birth of a new star in the local game.

They might not be the biggest schools rugby side, but, believe me, nothing is likely to beat Paul Roos for sheer grit this season.

And so, after the traditional protracted on-field celebrations, several thousand hot and happy spectators went home with vivid memories which they will revisit many times.

 



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