Don’t get in the way of a freight train !  Paarl Boys’ High no. 8 Gideon van Wyk (left) and flyhalf
Kian Meadon (10) try in vain to halt the progress of a Grey College opponent during their side’s
24-43 defeat in Bloemfontein on Saturday 11 May 2019.  (photo: Deborah Redelinghuys)


You know the meaty part of the season is upon you when there are several really enticing fixtures on the programme.  Your patience has been rewarded: Saturday 18 May is exactly the kind of day for which the discerning spectator has been waiting.

Top of the bill is the Paul Roos vs Paarl Gym game at the Markotter, although in the South Western Cape many would claim that more accurately describes the Outeniqua vs Oakdale match.  In addition we have the second round of the southern suburbs derbies, with Wynberg at home to Bishops and SACS off to face in-form Rondebosch on the Tinkie Heyns paddock.

Most of Stellenbosch will be holding its collective breath as the Young Maties face their first real test of 2019.  The teams at the World Schools event and SANIX didn’t provide enough of a challenge to Ruben Labuschagne and his team-mates.  At the same time, Paarl Gym will be hell-bent on restoring their pride that was dented by Grey College at Wildeklawer.

It is pointless merely trotting out the names of the players on each side.  Rather let us look at some of the relative strengths of the two teams and the interesting duels that can be expected.

The Maroons don’t have any perceptible weaknesses.  A mobile front row with try-hungry Robbie Rodgers and Meiring Ebersohn is back by the lanky lock Dylan de Leeuw, while no. 8 Jarod Cairns is a mighty force all by himself.

The Gym pack is not that weak, either, but they haven’t had the (questionable) benefit of playing benevolent opposition thus far.  Loosehead Gerhard van Niekerk, hooker Liam Compion and flanks Pierich Siebert and Louw Nel are among the points scorers so far, but whether they can reprise this form against a unit like Paul Roos is up for debate.

In the Western Cape it’s always the backline play that attracts the most attention, which is just how it should be.

The Gym backline has formed a tight attacking unit, from halfbacks Bobby Alexander and Johan Smal to pacy wings Stravino Jacobs and Curwin Gertse.  Plus they have provided proof of their ability against some redoubtable opposition.

Maroons flyhalf Kade Wolhuter revels in trying circumstances.  The confusion he caused the St Peter’s backs at SANIX was awesome.  Ruben Labuschagne is a marvellous thinking partner for him in midfield, while wings Luke Burger and Andrew Pegg - or Ronin Daniels, if the need arises - have blistering pace.  Hopefully Cade Croy, who has an uncanny knack of spotting the opportunity for a rapier-like counterattack, will be fit to take his place in the full-back position.

The game will be broadcast on DSTV channel 210 at 12:05.  Make sure you don’t miss it !

It’s hard to recall a point at which the fortunes of the big O’s up the N2 have been at such a low ebb at the same time, but few will be concerned with the relative form of Outeniqua and Oakdale when they face off in George.

The Quaggas have developed a recent tendency to blow very hot and then unpleasantly cold.  They dismantled Brackenfell early in March.  Big deal.  An unsuccessful North-South foray was then followed by defeat at the hands of Paarl Boys’ High. 

It was at Wildeklawer that the schizophrenia started as they were pummelled 64-7 by Grey College before bouncing back to trash Noord-Kaap 50-7 forty-eight hours later.  Fast forward one week and they walked all over a quite respectable Hugenote side 71-7.  What on earth comes next ?

The George lads have some really tough forwards - hooker Leon Volschenk, prop Zander Bezuidenhout and second-rower Corné Struwig come to mind, along with lively no. 8 Bennett Nortje - but their nippy backs, such as Caston Michaels, Dillon Pieterse and Gerhard Ackermann aren’t quite the finished articles of recent seasons.  Much rounding-off needs to happen before a Libbok, Galant, Mahuza or Eksteen will appear.

Fortunately, they do have a steadying influence in kicker Matthew Thorne, who is equally at home in the 10 or 15 jersey.

Oakdale remain a largely unknown brand.  For them Wildeklawer was an anti-climax, but the problems started much earlier when they lost in two of their first three outings, to Stellenberg and Argentinians San Isidro.

It’s not that they fall short in the commitment department - anyone who has witnessed the storming runs of hooker Vernon Paolo, versatile utility forward Corné Rahl and loose forwards Kaylim Cordier and Sybrand van Dyk will attest to that - but there was an unsettling lack of the bulk one has come to expect of the Bulls.

At the back a great deal rests on the shoulders of scrumhalf Nico Pietersen, centre Alwych van der Linde and fast men Tino Singe, Keaton Busch and Ruhan Els.

If the match turns into a free-flowing extravaganza, expect the home team to flourish.

Such is the teams’ established form, few people would bet on Wynberg and SACS winning on Saturday.

Wynberg seem to be playing so infrequently it’s hard to see a pattern in their form.  They might have drawn with Grey High at Hawthornden, but they have also lost there to Stellenberg and Rondebosch.

They really don’t seem to possess the wherewithal to make life difficult for a delightful Bishops side that spent a golden fifteen minutes on Saturday rubbing their Landbou hosts’ noses in their own turf.

For runners like wings Luca Liebenberg and Sam Marthinussen, life outside centres of the calibre of Mikey Ford and Ollie Jones is a dream come true.  Toss a few big hard men in up front - Aidan McDonald, Connor Evans, Sam Rudston and James Bolton will do just nicely, thank you - and a fiery captain like Isaiah Wharton commandeering the ship from no. 8 and the omens aren’t good for Devon Pretorius’s side.

They’ve got penetrative players too, Eben Tshimanga, Lezaine Davis and Rethabile Louw are quite capable of mixing it with the best.  It’s up front that they are to be found wanting and, make no mistake, this is as complete a Platinum Blue package as has graced local turf in some years.

Rondebosch and SACS both struggled to express themselves against Brackenfell, but that’s about where the comparisons end.

Bosch have been in unstoppable form since losing honourably to Paul Roos.  St Andrew’s of Grahamstown, Grey High and Boland Landbou will all countersign any affidavit to that effect.

The forwards are just as strong on the back foot as on the front and, presuming that they will have sorted out the line-out woes that surfaced against Parel Vallei, they will give Nic Boden, Ian Paterson, Brent van Niekerk, Jordan Thomas and Mikhail Moosa a whole lot to think about.

At the back Duran Koevort and Thomas Doyle will more than have their hands full when the canny Kian Davis puts in his pinpoint grubbers, Ishma-eel Safodien launches on his sniping breaks and Dalvon Blood and Conor van Eden happily add the finishing touches.

You think the big interschools is going to take place at Faure Street this year ?  You can bet on the Rondebosch Rumble in June being just as exciting.

The guests might be assembling for the WP Premier A party, but it’s the last weekend before most Boland schools go into examination mode.

By far the biggest match sees Schoonspruit host Piketberg at the Wesbank grounds for their Classic Clash, while Robertson welcome Swartland to red wine central, Worcester Gym visit Hermanus, Charlie Hofmeyr put a few weeks of inactivity behind them as Stellenbosch come to Ceres, Augsburg Gym have an interesting assignment away to Lutzville and Dirkie Uys take on Bredasdorp on the coast.

A week ago predicting the winner of the Schoonspruit - Piketberg game would have been a no-brainer. However, a few weeks off saw Vos de Jager’s youngsters battling to rid themselves of the cobwebs as they surrendered their unbeaten record at Weston in Vredenburg last Saturday.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to see Piketberg taking down the Schoonies in Malmesbury.

Two WP Premier B ties look interesting.

In the first Helderberg derby contested with both sides on an equal footing Strand will be up against a very chastened Parel Vallei side who came face to face with their shortcomings in vivid colour at Rondebosch seven days ago.  The hosts aren’t doing too well themselves, so a win for the Bulldogs is on the cards.

Tygerberg’s yo-yo existence continues. Their last three matches have seen them lose 17-61 to Boland Landbou, thrash Strand 50-24 and get drilled 62-14 at home by Durbanville. 

This weekend they welcome close neighbours DF Malan, who, if anything, are in even more of a rut.  Your money should be safe if you put it on the Tygers.

Brackenfell face a tricky hurdle when they entertain third tier Milnerton, while Bellville should have the beating of visitors Hottentots Holland.

Next week Paul Roos pay Paarl Boys’ High a visit at Brug Street, Paarl Gym head off to SACS and Stellenberg renew their tense rivalry at home to Boland Landbou.  



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