While the Boland fixtures might be perceptibly downscaled as mid-year exams set in, there is no respite for the Western Province Premier A and B and leading SWD schools.
Despite not being quite as attractive as last week’s feast, the menu for Saturday, 2 June still features five very attractive dishes from which to choose.
Pick of the bunch is without a doubt the visit of Paarl Gim to Oakdale.
Last Saturday both these teams were rudely shaken out of their comfort zones. The Bulle were sliced and diced 32-7 on home soil by the clinical Outeniqua machine; Gim needed an injury time try to clinch an agonisingly close 14-10 away victory against Wynberg.
It really does look as as if Oakdale have run into something of a brick wall and will need to do some uncomfortable soul-searching if they are to mount a serious threat to the highly accomplished northern Paarl side.
Gim can react to last Saturday’s nail-nibbler in one of two ways. They can pass it off as an anomalous blip on the radar screen or consider it a timely reminder that everyone is susceptible to moments of vulnerability.. Knowing wily Christoff Lötter’s approach to coaching, the emphasis is definitely going to be on the latter: this team does not walk with an arrogant swagger.
There were very few, if any, chinks in the Paarl side’s armour going into the Wynberg, with only wing Wion Robbertse missing, yet they were forced to concede a penalty try and battled to win; so not all the cylinders were firing. This week rising star Wyatt Murphy will be filling Handré Pollard’s boots as the latter prepares for the SA Under-20 campaign.
One suspects that the forwards will try to establish their dominance early on and let loose what is definitely the more dangerous of the two backlines. Centre Altus Momsen and wing Loek van der Merwe are in sublime form thanks to the dream service supplied by Lotter Pretorius.
Bottom line? Smart money says there’ll be plenty of good cheer on the road home on Saturday.
Provided that you count HTS Drostdy as a Western Province Premier A team, which they are in all but geographical location, then, for once in a blue moon, this Saturday’s other four must-sees all involve top tier sides against each other.
Paradoxically, it would appear that the only thing standing in the way of a Paarl Boys’ High home win against luckless Bishops is the Brug Street boys’ titanic performance against Grey Bloem a week ago. It is going to require a great deal more mental than physical preparation for this one, which is bound to suit those tired Boishaai bodies.
The Grey game presented Seb Ferreira with the perfect stage to confirm that he is the finished article in the second row, one area about which the locals have been a touch nervous this season after they were forced to move subsequently-injured Ryno van der Merwe onto the side of the scrum to replace long-term casualty Dean Hensley.
It is difficult to find fault with what was very much a patched-together backline. They did their school and their province, not to mention their mentor, Elmo Wolfaardt, exceptionally proud. From Pieter Schoonraad all the way out to wings Tiaan Mouton and Danté van der Merwe they oozed class.
Bishops won the corresponding fixture two years ago thanks to the unerring boot of Tim Swiel. On Saturday James van Heerden dons his mantle in the knowledge that his decision-making can ignite a long-awaited revival at this most forbidding – and much to Bishops’ discomfort, very narrow – venue.
Stranger things have happened: a highly-motivated visiting unit up against a team lacking the edge so finely honed for last Saturday? Unlikely, thoughts of the huge shock of Interschools 2011 should serve to redirect the focus of this great group of youngsters.
In reality Bishops will most probably be looking forward to this trip with all the enthusiasm of a Russian pilot who finds himself assigned to test flying their new range of airliners.
Up in Worcester a thoroughly-shaken Drostdy side welcomes Boland Landbou, who have strung together a nice unbeaten run, culminating in victories over three top southern suburbs schools in as many weeks.
The Donkeys are going to have to take serious stock if they are to put behind them a game in which they were totally outfoxed and outflanked by Hugenote. Hopefully the return to the fray of skipper Sakkie Burger and scrummie Chriswill September will inspire the boys in scarlet.
Boland Landbou have key players all over the place: hooker Arno van Wyk, lock Justin Basson, flank Johan de Villiers, great half backs and a line that just loves to attack from all angles. Outside centre Keagon Gordon – who, along with tighthead Matthys Basson, is sadly out of Saturday’s clash – may be the only player selected for the WP Craven Week side, but there quite a few others who will revel in this opportunity to prove the selectors wrong.
Frankly, given the comprehensive nature of Saturday’s defeat, a Drostdy backlash does not look likely at the very time that Faffa Coetzee and Pottie Potgieter’s youngsters are starting to reach a well developed peak in their season. Man for man, the Farmers’ scrum is stronger than Hugenote’s and their backline, more penetrative.
Doesn’t look like the Donkeys will need to continue kicking themselves after last week; Landbou are odds-on favourites to do it for them.
So to Stellenbosch, where Paul Roos, who finally managed a home win last weekend, receive a tight-knit group of Wynberg lads who experienced their unit’s first defeat in three seasons at home to Paarl Gim last week.
Such is the spirit among this group of rugby-playing best friends that it would take a brave man to bet against them setting out their stall to recapture that winning vibe.
No matter what they would have one believe, the Young Maties are never at a loss for a high quality replacement in any position. OK, perhaps there are two exceptions. While they don’t make the side by themselves, full back Jason Worral and flank Ramone Samuels are in a class of their own.
Worral was, in a word, brilliant for the Western Province B team at last week’s trial games against Boland. Having immediately struck up an almost telepathic understanding with Jean-Luc du Plessis, he shredded the Boland defence whenever he joined the line, setting up the kind of opportunities that SACS centre Leighton van Wyk would normally only dream of.
Samuels may not have been as evident on Wednesday, but his televised appearance against Paarl Gim revealed just what a dynamic loose forward he is, attracting comparison with the Cheetahs’ Ashley Johnson. And he started the season at hooker! Heaven only knows what the props must look like!
Wynberg have shown unplumbable depths of resolve this season. If they could hold Gim until optional time a week back, they must fancy their chances this time round. Hopefully fullback Jordy Lamoral will be back in action as his trustworthy kicking abilities play an important part in the ‘Berg’s confidence.
This one will go down to the wire.
Last up is SACS at home to Rondebosch.
The Newlands crew have only lost to Landbou and Boishaai, both with honour, since late March, providing their faithful following with many magical moments. Two of their stars, centre Leighton van Wyk and Energiser-bunny Luke van der Smit on the flank, have gained selection to the Western Province Academy Week team, which van der Smit will captain.
There could just as easily have been several more provincial call-ups among both the forwards (Adam de Carvalho) and backs (Cam Calder and Chris Smith), but that is history now.
‘Bosch’s Graham Geldenhuys may have been chosen at no 8 for the provincial Academy Week team, but he is not the preferred player in that position at his school. Never-say-die Levi Calthorpe was praised after the Paul Roos game by referee Jonathan Kaplan as having given the finest display by a schoolboy eighthman he had ever seen. And Mr Whistle isn’t the first person to be impressed by him, either.
The visitors’ backline, led by captain Tim Hillock at centre, always runs pretty smoothly and it is out wide that the likes of Alaric Hobbs will need to be in peak form if there is to be any chance of what most would see as a surprise away victory.
In closing, here’s one for all those people who want to wring various selectors’ necks.
Marquit September, so deftly spirited away from Langenhoven High – a tiny school in Riversdale – on 15 April, would in all likelihood not even have been invited to the SWD trials. How times have changed for this young man: enrolled at Garsfontein on 17 April (for whom he played Second XV reserve that Saturday), he was selected for the Blue Bulls Craven Week team last week!
Western Cape fixtures for Saturday, 2 June:
(Home teams first)
Augsburg Gym vs Swartland
Bellville vs Durbanville
Brackenfell vs Strand
Bredasdorp vs Milnerton
Charlie Hofmeyr vs Montana
De Kuilen vs Stellenberg
HTS Bellville vs DF Malan
HTS Drostdy vs Boland Landbou
Monument Park vs Trafalgar
Oakdale vs Paarl Gym
Outeniqua vs Langenhoven Gym
Paarl Boys’ High vs Bishops
Parel Vallei vs Labori
Paul Roos vs Wynberg
Primrose RFC vs Tygerberg
SACS vs Rondebosch
Schoonspruit vs Hugenote
Stellenbosch vs Hermanus
By Tony Stoops