Fire Alarm! SACS move to close down Landbou's Renier "Vlam" Wepener last Saturday
With the Boland schools belatedly joining in, Saturday 20 April 2013 sees an extensive programme of over twenty five games involving the leading sides in the three provincial unions that constitute the Western Cape.
The choice clashes are spread far and wide, making the cream of the country’s schoolboy rugby all that more accessible to an eager public.
The most intriguing clash of the day regrettably takes place up in Port Elizabeth where Grey High welcome a far-from-settled Paul Roos side, whose 22-22 home draw against fellow-wobblers Bishops last Saturday will hardly have calmed jittery nerves.
The hosts will have been greatly heartened by their narrow 29-24 over a very impressive Nico Malan side, whose star outside centre Selvyn Davids has been earning rave reviews, in Humansdorp on Saturday 13 April.
Ironically, the Grey brand of open rugby could be just what the Young Maties need as Hein Kriek and Dawie Snyman look to settle their charges down away from the stifling expectations of their home supporters.
The Maroon Platoon’s back division seems to be the main area of concern and a good showing in this department would be the perfect tonic ahead of the visit to traditional rivals SACS, who are blossoming despite an early case of the jitters, and the demands of the Wildeklawer weekend.
Further south is the annual showdown between Oakdale and HTS Drostdy out in Riversdale.
Four consecutive victories – in the course of which they have racked up 129 points while conceding a single penalty – have helped the Bulle to consign their narrow away defeat to HTS Daniel Pienaar up in Uitenhage to distant memory.
However, the skeptics will argue that the likes of Diamantveld, Hugenote, HTS Louis Botha and Oudtshoorn, even though they undeniably feature annually among the cream of their four different provinces, are hardly what could be considered major threats to most so-called top sides.
So, the hosts, featuring many new youngsters, are on a roll. What about their opposition ?
The Donkeys spent a little more time finding their feet, drawing with San Isidro from Argentina and losing in the last minute to Transvalia at the Pukke Spectacular, but that’s where the shilly-shallying ended.
What more emphatic way could there be to silence their critics than a brilliant win against those giants of Sharks rugby, Glenwood ? Hanro Liebenberg’s cohorts haven’t looked back since, comfortably downing Rustenburg, Menlo Park and Stellenberg in their other fixtures to date.
The Oakdale lads take great pride in their forward strength, but could be forgiven for having their sleep interrupted by the memories of the Donkey frontmen of 2012, Wico Louw and Farrel Kelly, both of whom played Craven Week for Boland last July. Well, the latter is back just itching to pile more agony on his hosts.
The loose forward match-up also looks appetizing with Liebenberg facing stiff opposition from in-form local flanker Benji Janse van Vuuren.
The very fact that neither side boasts a formidable backline suggests that both will be trying that much harder to exploit weaknesses in their opponents’ defences.
It might not be fancy stuff, but it is sure to be absorbing.
Anyone brave enough to label Paarl Boys’ High’s micro-slump as a crisis might want to re-evaluate their assessment when the Winelanders hit the Piley Rees Field to play Bishops.
For once the hosts, who seem to be steadily coming right, actually have a front row of some quality, but captain Cuan Hablutzel and Taariq Allen won’t be able to hold back the tide alone against a very hungry Boishaai team hell-bent on restoring their proud image.
Burger van Niekerk’s pack acquitted itself well of its task against Outeniqua last week, but the backs need to regain some confidence if a Brug Street renaissance is to be effected.
Word is that Danté van der Merwe may move into the flyhalf position to stabilize that division – after all, his talents might be largely wasted at full-back against a team that very rarely resorts to long kicks out of hand – and that Dewald Naudé might be fit enough to return at outside centre.
Strange as it may seem, Boland Landbou face something of a watershed out on the Farm this Saturday.
Having lost away to SACS for the first time in decades on 13 April, the Windmeul Warriors host a Wynberg side whose only stutter so far has been last Saturday’s home draw against Rondebosch.
What makes the defeat up in Newlands all the more worrisome is the fact that their backs still aren’t coming to the party, their prime attacking weapon apparently being flame-haired flank Renier Wepener.
The Lovers Walk Lads don’t seem to have that problem. Numbers 9 to 15 – which, on occasion, have included Stefan Botha, Ebrahim Adams, Evan Frylinck, Karl Martin, Craig Botha, Siya Alam and Karl Martin alongside 2012 WP Academy Week centre Jarred Sage – have been running in tries aplenty, albeit against slightly less imposing opponents.
The face-off up front could be another matter entirely, especially if big unit Matthys Basson struts his stuff for Pottie’s side, but what good is possession if you don’t utilize it effectively ?
Just spare a thought for the hosts. The positive side of living 24/7 in a such a sparsely-populated close-knit community is an unquenchable spirit and camaraderie, the negative is the small pool one has from which to draw players, a task made all the more difficult by their not having a feeder school.
In Parow, the most eagerly awaited clash sees Paarl Gym finally take the field locally for the first time in 2013 when they visit Tygerberg, a side whose current CV differs radically from their own.
The men from northern Paarl forged ahead steadily over Easter, disposing of most of the KZN quality teams at Kearsney. Tygerberg, on the other hand, started the season by losing heavily to Outeniqua, narrowly – and frustratingly – to Hugenote, winning two close games at Bizhub in Durban and then mugging Merensky and Primrose RFC, each by over 60 points to nil !
Confidence plays a massive role in the Tygers’ camp and they could spring a major upset if they get their noses in front early on. Realistically, though, the Gimmies should march on.
In the pick of the Boland programme Piketberg welcome unbeaten Charlie Hofmeyr.
Piketberg have only lost once this campaign and that was on tour in France. They have an extremely well-balanced side with lots of oomph up front and gas to spare out back, where left wing JJ Stander is in sparkling form. They also have a slick points-machine in left-footed flyhalf Stephan Breunissen.
Their resilience was demonstrated in no uncertain fashion in last Wednesday’s game against Swartland in Malmesbury.
The match might have been part of the local area trials, but you wouldn’t have guessed that, judging by the commitment shown by both sides. Despite trailing 0-21 well before the break, Chris van der Merwe’s youngsters came back with a vengeance, Breunissen clinching a 22-21 win with a penalty from wide out on his less-favoured side right on the final whistle.
Charlies might be their nicknames, but that’s hardly a fair description of a Ceres unit which hardly ever disappoints. They have four away wins on their report card to date, the most satisfying probably being the 22-17 win at resurgent Vredenburg last weekend.
Wherever you’re going to be watching, here’s hoping that at least the weather improves !
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