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Downing the Donkeys !  Outeniqua’s SWD Craven Week right-wing Casten Michaels
reaches out to score
during his side’s 38-22 home win against HTS Drostdy
on Saturday 13 July 2019.   Outside him
is hooker Leon Volschenk, who
dotted down twice in the match.  (photo: Gavin Falck)

The second weekend of the third term is traditionally the one which sees everybody in action and the programme for Saturday 20 July 2019 proves that this year is no exception.  All the holiday rust has been removed and the sights have been set on the climactic end-of-season interschools matches. 

Although the most attractive games appear to be Outeniqua versus Paarl Gym in George and Boishaai against Boland Landbou at Brug Street, there are two enticing fixtures scheduled for southern suburbs supporters, with SACS hosting Paul Roos and Wynberg visiting Rondebosch for the first game of round two of the local derbies. 

The Quaggas have undergone an almost magical transformation since being thrashed 64-7 by Grey College in their first game at Wildeklawer.  In fact, they haven’t lost since then, starting with a 50-7 rout of Noord-Kaap two days after the Grey debacle and wins against Stellenberg (away from home), Hugenote, Oakdale and HTS Drostdy, all at home.

Having a strong core of players at the Under 18 youth weeks has honed their collective skills to the point that they pose a real threat to their visitors from the northern side of Paarl. 

While they don’t have quite the same quality that one has become to in the backline, they lack nothing up front.  Big units like Corné Struwig, François Breytenbach, Xander Bezuidenhout and Leon Volschenk will be more than ready for Gym’s Liam Compion, Gerhard van Niekerk, Jovan Bekker and Reynhardt Crous.

Both packs had good workouts last weekend, the Quaggas matching skills with HTS Drostdy and Gym coping efficiently with a very solid Rondebosch eight.

However, at the back the home team finds itself very light when it comes to fast men who are making big waves.  Scrumhalf Abré Minnie is going to have his hands full when he squares up to dynamic Bobby Alexander and it seems unlikely that right wing Casten Michaels is going to see much good ball with Gym’s Stephan du Toit out to cut the supply in midfield.

Hopefully, for Gym, they will have come up with a plan to return Stravino Jacobs to his preferred place on the left wing, while Curwin Gertse on the right is likely to raise alarms in the home defence in which full-back Matthew Thorne proved himself a capable matchwinner with 23 points last Saturday. 

Not that Gym don’t have playmakers of their own.  Pivot Jandré Burger and full-back Tiaan Swanepoel are as inventive going forward as they are solid in defence.

Picking a winner is never easy, but Outeniqua would do well to bear in mind the likely after-effects of the reality check Rondebosch inflicted on Gym during the final minutes of last weekend’s clash.  

Boland Landbou regard Brug Street as almost a home away from home because they often perform above themselves there.  This year this shouldn’t overly concern their hosts, given that the Farmers have, with the possible exception of the Stellenberg game, performed below even average expectations.

Last weekend’s 20-17 win at SACS is hardly the confidence-builder they need going into a game in which they will be facing a host of provincial stars.

Boishaai, on the other hand, would be well-advised to guard against the over-confidence that comes from not only putting forty-plus points on the board at Oakdale, but also keeping the locals scoreless.

Rhynhardt Rijnsburger’s side has just about everything in their favour, particularly behind the scrum, from where no. 8 Gideon van Wyk and flyhalf Kian Meadon are used to dictating the course of play.  The rest of the fast unit is scary: Tyler Bocks and Quan Horn are Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in midfield, while the back three of Angelo Osch, Javier Farmer and Jacques Rousseau have no fewer than 27 tries under their collective belt.

Then again, you never can tell what Landbou might come up with.  The smart money says not nearly enough.

Speaking of underperformers, it is baffling how a squad as talented as Paul Roos has failed to really fire since their Japanese jaunt.

Even before SANIX, they failed to bury Rondebosch and, since returning, defeats against the two Paarl schools and a fourteen-point winning margin against Wynberg hint at something going a bit off in the state of Stellenbosch.

Kade Wolhuter continues his excellent form, but the really good news last week was the return to action of wing Andrew Pegg, whose tally of eight tries might have been much larger, injury notwithstanding. 

Up front, the Young Ikeys’ front row can expect to be pummelled by the power of Robbie Rodgers and Meiring Ebersohn, although locks Jordan Thomas and Enos Ndiao should be more than capable of holding their own in set phases.

One could almost forgive SACS for having one eye on the local derbies, which constitute all their remaining fixtures.  But then Paul Roos have Grey Bloem to mull over !

Rondebosch have to beat Wynberg - and SACS and Bishops, for that matter - to win the Southern Suburbs Challenge (my capitals).  They ran out 28-17 winners up at Hawthornden in May and should have a very good chance of repeating the feat on Saturday.

The hosts’ fortunes have been on the rise this year, with provincial caps aplenty, a stunning win over Boland Landbou and an honourable 26-47 defeat at Paarl Gym a week ago.

One can’t help thinking that the Bosch scrum will dominate their visitors’ one.  They have an oversupply of talented front-rowers, capable locks in Matt Gray and Will McDonald and a very handy loose trio spearheaded by versatile Josh King. 

Wynberg are unable to match that, although Philip Masanga and Kamva Mgwali do constitute a very real threat up front.

At the back, Conor van Eden showed no ill-effects of having to return to his 2018 slot at flyhalf, from which position he pretty well carried out all the duties expected of a full-back anyway.  Ishma-eel Safodien continues to impress in the number 9 jersey and Dalvon Blood gave a large crowd a spectacular taste of his very special talents when he scored what must rank high on the team’s try of the season charts.

Berg moved Devon Pretorius to flyhalf for the Paul Roos match, which, should he continue there, makes one wonder just how strong the midfield will be defensively.  Ebenezer Tshivanga might cut a lonely figure out on the wing.

The other Premier A side, Bishops, travel out to Somerset West to play B league debutants Parel Vallei in what might be a rather one-sided encounter, given the Bulldogs’ recent results.

Believe it or not, the match of the weekend in the Boland, if not the entire province, takes place at Vredendal, where the locals, fresh from a stunning 31-24 away win over Upington, entertain Hopefield, one of only two unbeaten teams in the Western Cape.

If ever an occasion called for flyhalf extraordinaire Nathan Engelbrecht to display his class for the visitors, this is it. 

If you live anywhere nearby, get there to watch what promises to be a fascinating contest.

Other feature games in the country’s breadbasket include HTS Drostdy against Duineveld of Upington, Charlie Hofmeyr vs Hermanus in Ceres, Piketberg vs Dirkie Uys - both sides won handsomely last weekend - and Bredasdorp, who sprung a massive surprise by downing Langenhoven Gym in their last match, vs Langenhoven High.

With Oakdale travelling up to Cradock to play Marlow, the only attractions in the SWD apart from the Quaggas-Gym showdown, see Punt face a daunting task when Die Brandwag arrive from Uitenhage and Langenhoven Gym try to pick up the pieces against a very workmanlike Montagu team.

WP Premier B action is rather limited, there being only two matches, in which Tygerberg host Stellenberg and DF Malan welcome Brackenfell, while Boland high-fliers New Orleans visit Bellville for what should be an intriguing game.

The first of these should go to the Jade Brigade, while, given the Brakkies’ improved form of late, they might well take home the spoils, too.       

Forthcoming attractions for Saturday 27 July 2019 include Rondebosch vs Paarl Boys’ High, Paarl Gym vs Wynberg and Bishops vs SACS locally, while Oakdale try to negotiate EP form side Framesby, and this a mere seven days before Grey College come to town !  



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