Posted by on 30 July 2013 | 0 Comments

Aasvoël attack ! "Mine ?" "Yours ?" Bosch's Kyle Whyte and Ronnie Melck face
a dilemma that's been all too common in WP Premier A schools rugby in 2013.
See the match gallery to find out what happened ! (photo: Eduan Hayman)

Just as the first sighting of a robin signifies the start of spring in England, so the massive Interschools clash in Paarl, the SWD showdown and the start of the second round of the southern suburbs derbies on Saturday 3 August 2013 herald the closing stages of the local schools rugby season.

Much will be written about the Gym – Boishaai clash at Faure Street both before and after the Saturday afternoon kick-off, just about every offering making it quite clear that form going into the game counts for absolutely nothing.

This is just as well for the Blue half of the beautiful jewel that is Paarl.

Gym have ridden roughshod over pretty well everybody this year, the consummate ease with which they obliterated hapless Boland Landbou on Saturday being just the most recent example. 49 points in as many minutes and on came their second stringers. It was that clear-cut.

Sure, they’ve had a few injury problems, what with centre Ryan Oosthuizen spending several months out and prince of schools rugby locks JD Schickerling ostensibly out for the rest of the season, but whoever they call up has got the job done efficiently and, virtually always, attractively.

Boys’ High have also lost assets to the sidelines, the most recent being SA Schools hooker Daniel du Plessis, but the most intriguing aspect of their season has been the frightening Night of the Long Droëwors in May when half the side got dropped to the Seccies and a new captain took up the reins.

If this has merely been an elaborate ploy to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, it may have obscured the vision of a lot of the players concerned too, giving as it did the impression of some deep unease in the Auret Street camp, even to the extent that many think it will have a bearing on Saturday’s proceedings.

Who will win ? On paper, Gym. Three SA schools caps in a group of just five Craven Week representatives trumps Boishaai’s two out of eight, not only underlining their top-of-the-pile status this year, but also seemingly vindicating those who questioned the composition of the WP CW squad.

Let’s take a quick look at how the various positions compare. Please note that, in keeping with secrecy and potential masterstrokes, the below represents merely a conservative guess at which position players are likely to fill

Full-back: Paarl Boys’ High (HJS): Dante van der Merwe; Paarl Gym; (PG): (from) Andri Cooper and Grant Hermanus. Van der Merwe gets the nod here. A devastating runner from the back, he could be the man to wreak havoc in the Gym defence. Cooper is not the running type, rather a positionally-aware last line with a huge kick, not bad for a Grade 11 lad who missed the whole of 2012 due to injury.

Wings: HJS: Ferlin Vers and Dewald Naudé;.Gym: (from) Dylon Fairbridge, Grant Hermanus, Ruan Stander. Much of a muchness. HJS have the edge in speed, but Stander’s long strides pose a special threat and Fairbridge has a sublime side-step; then again, Vers does too !. Wherever he plays, Hermanus, not used last weekend, will be vital, especially for his place-kicking.

Centres: HJS: Luan Boshoff and Curtley Grain; PG: (from) Ryan Oosthuizen, Wayno Visagie and JD du Toit. Gym should prevail here. Oosthuizen gave signs of his complete rehabilitation last Saturday and Wayno Visagie is technically sound both on attack and defence. Boshoff tends to be relatively anonymous, although Grain has won supporters’ hearts with a string of great performances.

Half-backs: HJS: Paul de Wet and Stefan Gouws. Gym: Brendon Nell and Wyatt Murphy. Gym look stronger here too, if only because of their experience. Nell was in sublime form against Landbou and Murphy, whose preference for the scrumhalf position makes a whole new range of permutations possible, more than held his own against Tian Nel. Gouws has established himself as a great tee-man and, crucially, always gets his line away smoothly.

Loose Forwards: HJS: (from) Charlton Jonas, Charl-Francois du Toit, Piero Passerini and JJ van der Spuy. Gym: Rikus Bothma, Jacques Vermeulen and Gareth Cilliers. A no-brainer, this. Gym boast two SA Schools players plus the unluckiest player not to represent his province this year. They work superbly together, complementing each other’s games in every facet. The sheer driving power of Vermeulen counts almost as an extra player. Jonas may have played Craven Week, but he and his loosie mates are simply physically incapable of dominating their opponents.

Locks: HJS: (from) Burger van Niekerk, Matthew le Roux and Hein Kritzinger. Gym: Johan Momsen and Jaco Willemse. Boishaai have the edge, particularly if van Niekerk plays, although le Roux has shone at line-outs. Momsen has developed enormously this season, while Willemse’s main contribution is his weight in the tight phases and his ability to provide the line-out jumpers with extensive hang-time.

Front rows: HJS: Thomas du Toit, Ruan Brits and François van der Merwe. Gym: Gavin van den Berg, Wilner Conradie and DJ van Niekerk. Juggernaut Thomas du Toit gives HJS a definite edge in a trio that all played Craven Week. Big T’s leadership and momentum on the move mark him as Boishaai’s key player. The Gym lads are markedly smaller, although Conradie’s general workrate and ability in the loose is invaluable in that it effectively frees one loose forward from some ruck and maul obligations.

Well ? You pays your money and you takes your pick, so they say. Rather you than me !

Their two country cousins have tough assignments, even though both are at home.

Paul Roos may have shown much character and resilience on their way to beating Wynberg 16-8 at Hawthornden last weekend, but a tough couple of weeks for them starts when Oakdale visit the Markotter on Saturday.

The Bulle don’t play frilly stuff; it’s good, hard, direct rugby efficiently executed as EP big boys Marlow recently found out to their discomfort.

Like their local archrivals Boland Landbou, the visitors don’t have the luxury of an endless supply of reserves, but then they have not been hit nearly as hard as the Windmeul Warriors. In the Cradock clash the star of the show was tighthead Nemo “Rocketman” Roelofse, who left everyone in his wake en route to the tryline.

Captain Benjamin Janse van Vuuren is several handsful in the forward exchanges, while the smooth skills of inside centre Gene Willemse help keep the backline steady.

The Young Maties might just need the tee-work of wing Joel Heugh to bail them out, given the stingy defensive record of the Bulls, but loosehead JP Botha’s recently-acquired taste for the tryline might also be a telling factor.

HTS Drostdy head across the mountains to the Farm.

Whether the Donkeys’ 32-3 win over Bishops last week was just a flash in the pan after a few pretty drab outings, only Saturday will tell, but they face a Landbou side that needs a lot longer than a week to lick all its mental and physical wounds after their 70 minute Gym workout.

The visitors’ loose trio includes two Boland Craven Week caps in Hanro Liebenberg and rising star Jurie Fick, who hails from idyllic Napier. Should they be given a licence to roam, the Farmers may well be staring down the barrel again, something they could happily do without four days before they visit neighbours Hugenote in Wellington and another eleven away from their Riversdale showdown with Oakdale.

The brilliance of Outeniqua, who also have home advantage, threatens to overwhelm poor Oudtshoorn in George.

There is no need to introduce the acclaimed Quaggas to the cognoscenti and, even if some of the Struisies’ names were mentioned, no-one is likely to recognize them. Their rebuilding phase is a long and hard one plus there is a question mark over the availability of inside centre (and kicker) Luther du Toit.

The urban WP derbies see Rondebosch entertain Wynberg and Bishops visit SACS.

Once – and if - they fathom out how they managed to relinquish a 20-0 lead to lose 20-39 to Boishaai last week, the ’Bosch might just have the makings of a plan against a Wynberg side that has largely exceeded their conservative supporters’ wildest expectations under new broom Justin van Winkel.

Losing 8-16 to Paul Roos with the latter’s massive playing resources is no disgrace and will have gone some way to alleviating the pain of defeat. Out wide Ibie Adams and Stef Botha are due for a couple of tries, while mastermind Jarryd Sage will be more than eager to help them realize their wishes.

However, the Canigou Carnivores’ midfield defence is strong, with versatile captain Ronnie Melck glad of the company provided by his deputy, WP Academy player Stef de Gouveia, and the forwards are not particularly generous in the tight exchanges either. Their big problem, like Bishops, is getting the whole to knit.

Saturday promises to be a big test for the hosts.

SACS might well be considerably more upbeat ahead of the Platinum Blues’ arrival this weekend.

Buoyed by their huge win over Coleraine, Bishops gave everyone a taste of their trademark fare against Tygerberg, only to fall miserably short (3-32) in Worcester against an HTS Drostdy side that has struggled to create any sort of spark in the last three weeks.

One of their problems seems to be the speed of the pack, with the exception of captain Cuan Hablutzel and bulky lock Sam Mitchell, a deficiency which regularly costs them a few seconds.

SACS have already lowered the Bishops flag comprehensively this season, if that counts for anything, and seem to have regained a measure of equilibrium after their dissection at the hands of Gym by beating Tygerberg away.

Skipper Keagan Wheeler, the vital playmaker at centre, was in sparkling form In Parow, crossing the line on two occasions in their six-try canter.

Oh, and just in case you thought next week was going to be a yawn because of a long weekend, think again, one glance at the Fixtures section will change your mind.


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