Let's get physical ! Clearing a ruck Rondebosch-style
After being made to sweat for a large part of the first half, Rondebosch finally sorted out the niggling errors that had been handicapping them to see off impressive visitors Stellenberg 31-16 in their first home match of the season on Saturday 27 April 2013.
If this is any indication of the kind of fare to be expected on Canigou Avenue this season, the house-full signs are likely to be going up on a regular basis. Simply put, the Bosch Boys were full of running, playing with an expansive style that would put close neighbours and archrivals Bishops to shame.
The locals enjoyed the upper hand in most departments except in the front row, where Brett Paulse was sorely missed, an absence made all the more evident by a fine performance for the visitors by hooker and vice-captain Xander Steyn.
However, from the second row back, things got progressively rosier as some astute adjustments by coaches Clinton van Rensburg and Rod Labuschagne bore fruit by the orchard-load.
With scrumhalf Luke Houba facing a long-term lay-off, regular number 12 Stef de Gouveia has been shifted to the base of the scrum, his place being taken by incumbent pivot Tyren Lee, with Hylton Gibson drafted in at flyhalf.
After a hard year getting used to the rigours of 1st XV rugby, Lee has taken to this new challenge with rare relish. Such is the constant threat he poses as playmaker – be it through his exquisite grubber-kicks, three of which directly led to tries, his half-breaks or his uncanny partnership with brilliant full-back Khanyo Ngcukana – that it’s only a matter of time before the CIA sends a drone to eliminate him.
The game started in pleasantly warm, slightly overcast conditions, with Stellenberg moving onto the attack, aided by a handling error by the hosts, who redeemed themselves soon afterwards by taking a tighthead, only for the clearance kick to go astray.
The visitors’ territorial advantage was duly translated into points when Bosch prevented the release of a ruck ball, giving no. 15 Tiaan Swanepoel a straightforward penalty. (Rondebosch 0 Stellenberg 3 – 5 minutes)
A promising Bosch move, spearheaded by Lee, was scuppered by a wild pass, but, fortunately, the northern suburbs lads were in an equally generous mood, turning over promising possession several times in the space of the next five minutes.
It wasn’t till after the quarter-hour mark that the Bosch backs wove their next spell, de Gouveia being held up four metres short. When the visitors were awarded a penalty at the ensuing ruck, a misstruck clearance straight down his throat saw Ngcukana bring the crowd to their feet with a mazy run that only petered out when he got isolated from his support.
However, barely two minutes later a Lee grubber was snapped up by the full-back, whose inch-perfect pass gave left-wing Matthew Steel a clear diagonal path to the posts from 30 metres out. Lee added the conversion. (Rondebosch 7 Stellenberg 3 – 20 minutes)
Although Lee and Steel combined threateningly again almost immediately, it was the Stellies who scored next, drawing to within a point via a Swanepoel penalty following another ruck transgression. (Rondebosch 7 Stellenberg 6 – 25 minutes)
Ngcukana continued to revel in the space he was creating for himself and more of his bewildering stepping saw lock Luke Stringer on hand to crash over at the posts leaving Lee a routine conversion. (Rondebosch 14 Stellenberg 6 – 28 minutes)
There was still time for home hooker Phillip Jankielsohn to attempt to force his way over, but another frustrating breakdown meant that that was the score at the change-over.
Just after the restart obstructive running by Ngcukana presented Swanepoel with an opportunity to reduce the deficit, which he pushed wide, a mistake the 2012 SA Under 16 player did not repeat eight minutes later when Bosch flank Jay Stevens was penalized for holding onto the ball on the ground. (Rondebosch 14 Stellenberg 9 – 45 minutes)
As the home side’s dominance became increasingly apparent, they started to swing the ball from one side of the field to the other, but found the visiting defence, excellently marshaled by flyhalf Armand de Ridder and centre Malan Roode, their captain, ready for the them for the most part.
One exception came when a powerful surge down the left saw other lock Christoph Blake over in the corner. (Rondebosch 19 Stellenberg 9 – 52 minutes)
The loss midway through this half of two key backs – right wing Jade Thys (a knee problem) and Swanepoel (broken nose) – severely hamstrung the visitors and Lee exploited a moment of weakness with another stab through, which de Goiuveia gratefully latched onto to dot down wide on the right. (Rondebosch 24 Stellenberg 9 – 59 minutes)
The Stellenberg backs decided to show their hosts that they didn’t have a monopoly on slick backline work, with angled running by flyhalf Armand de Ridder seeing him cross from a ruck close to the Bosch line for a try he goaled himself. (Rondebosch 24 Stellenberg 16 – 67 minutes)
Much to the delight of the very vocal local support Man of the Match Lee had one more grubber up his sleeve, this one opening a huge gap for captain and no.8 Ronnie Melck to close off proceedings. Lee converted and Rondebosch had taken the spoils 31-16.
A most entertaining match, which, despite a spate of frustrating infringements, held one’s attention throughout, not least because of the sides’ willingness to spread the game wide at every opportunity. Purists would be well advised to try to watch both these fine exponents of the open game.
Next week sees Rondebosch visit prolific Tygerberg, while the Stellies face a tough northern suburbs clash at Brackenfell.
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