Jeppe High School for Boys got their season off to a good start with a convincing 32-9 victory over St John’s in their opening fixture on Saturday. They led 13-6 at half time.
Jeppe lost to St John’s in the equivalent clash at the beginning of last season, a defeat that started off what was to be a bit of a nightmare year for the Black and White, so Saturday’s win was especially sweet for them.
A fair number of the players from the 2017 side were in grade 11, so they are back again and as expected, the extra year’s worth of experience has made quite a difference.
None more so than in their captain, Muzi Manyike. He played in the Craven Week as a centre last year and has been starring for the SA under-18 Sevens team in recent weeks. He is at fyhalf for Jeppe now, and he had a hand in all of their five tries. He scored two himself, set up centre Boykie Tstasane for another, and fired off the long passes that put winger Sipho Vayise over in the corner for his two first half tries.
Manyike also kicked a penalty and a conversion, and Tstasane slotted one conversion.
St John’s defended manfully throughout and, to their credit, Jeppe were never able to score via their forwards despite launching wave after wave of close range assaults on the line.
Their vaunted flyhalf, Bismark Olivier, was not given much room to move, but he showed enough touches to indicate that he is going to be a fore when he adapts to rugby at 1st team level.
Three penalties from fullback Ruben Engelbrecht were the only points they were able to score.
Jeppe’s Edward White and Callan Harvey were huge in the forward phases, while scrumhalf Kabelo Mokhethi was a constant threat with ball in hand.