“Come on, then, blow me a raspberry !”  Jordan Thomas of SACS and Sam Rudston
of Bishops are all concentration as they contest a line-out during the Platinum
Blues’ 47-17 home win on Saturday 27 July 2019.  (photo: Madison Beley)

Hosts Paarl Gym wound up their preparations for next week’s interschools clash with a comfortable 59-14 win over a game, but somewhat outgunned Wynberg team on Saturday 27 July 2019.

The ideal warm, sunny conditions deserved a larger crowd than attended the match, but those who made the effort found it well worth the effort as Gym ran in nine sparkling tries to the two of their visitors.

A knock-on from home full-back Tiaan Swanepoel’s kick off gave Gym an early chance to stretch their legs, but efficient tackling and a turn-over of possession stopped them virtually immediately.  Then, when they stole the ball back, a wild pass scuppered their efforts.

Wynberg’s powerful SA Schools A prop Philip Masango gave the visitors some relief with a trademark drive, but Gym were soon able to return to the attack, SA Schools flank Pierich Siebert breaching the defence before sending scrumhalf Bobby Alexander clear for the first try of the match.  Flyhalf Jandré Burger converted.  (Paarl Gym 7 Wynberg 0 - 4 minutes)  

A speculative kick upfield after the restart was easily fielded by Berg full-back Wandile Notshe, who found a comfortable touch 35 metres from his goal line.

A great line-out take by Gym skipper Marco van Rhyn then freed tighthead Gerhard van Niekerk for a bullocking run, but he lacked support and Berg were able to find the safety of the touchline. 

A knock-on from the quick throw-in had some people wondering whether this was going to be a poor dress rehearsal, a concern deepened by a fine break back to the left by the visitors’ outside centre Rethabile Louw.  Fortunately, the Gym tackling forced a Wynberg knock-on.

From the resultant scrum Burger put in an accurate crossfield kick for Stravino Jacobs, happily plying his trade in his favourite no.11 jersey again, but the supporting players fumbled the ball.   The visitors were then awarded a penalty with which flyhalf Devon Pretorius set up a line-out within ten metres of the Gym line, but more inspired line-out work had Wynberg backpeddaling.

Gym were awarded a penalty at a Wynberg scrum, with Swanepoel pushing the visitors back to their ten metre line.  Berg were lucky when a clearance kick was charged down, enabling Van Niekerk to make several metres, but, when this move stalled, a penalty advantage allowed Burger to set up a five-metre line-out. 

Possession changed hands like quicksilver as the visitors stole the vital throw-in, only to have their relieving kick charged down, resulting in a five-metre Gym scrum for the ball having been carried over their own tryline by their opponents. 

Gym no.8 Juan Wilson threatened briefly and another attacking scrum ensued, from which Jacobs attacked down the left before offloading to Wilson, who was forced into touch.

Another soaring line-out take following a Pretorius clearance soon saw the visitors incur a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Wilson, Burger taking play to ten metres from the Wynberg line.  Lock Reynhardt Crous carried the ball to just short of the line, with Van Niekerk peeling off from the ruck to score wide on the left.  (Paarl Gym 12 Wynberg 0 - 26 minutes)

Gym were in full flow as Jacobs initiated another sweeping movement, only undone by poor handling.  The visitors moved play to the left, but lost the ball, which quickly found its way to Jacobs, who sprinted forty metres down the left touchline to dot down his eighteenth try of 2019.  Burger added the conversion.  (Paarl Gym 19 Wynberg 0 - 32 minutes)

Oozing confidence, Gym threatened yet again, but conceded a penalty which allowed Wynberg to find a much needed relieving touch.  A skew throw in allowed Gym to switch play to the right, but an injury to centre Stephan du Toit halted proceedings.

A knock-on from a Wynberg tap penalty saw Jacobs kick upfield, but Notshe was solid in defence.  Good work by Wilson gave Burger the opportunity to establish an attacking line-out with a well-weighted kick, but Van Rhyn’s take was spoilt when the visitors held the ball up, ending the first half.  Half-time : Paarl Gym 19 Wynberg 0.

Louw and Pretorius combined smartly to put their side on the front foot after the break, with Masango taking the ball up, but possession was lost and Burger drove them back to the halfway line.  Wynberg turned over the line-out ball, but Ethan James, making a timely return from injury in Du Toit’s place, averted the danger.

Seemingly out of the blue, Jacobs suddenly broke through the Wynberg midfield to send Alexander clear thirty metres out to cross for his second five-pointer, which Burger converted.  (Paarl Gym 26 Wynberg 0 - 41 minutes)

Siebert kept the pressure on the visitors, carrying the kick-off up, with Burger ultimately putting the ball out on the Berg 22.

Once again, Jacobs showed the defence a clean pair of heels with a devastating break to take the Gym score into the 30s.  Burger was on target yet again.  (Paarl Gym 33 Wynberg 0 - 44 minutes)

Without stopping for breath, the hosts were at it again from the restart, Burger’s delightful chip being pouched by right wing Curwin Gertse, who left his flyhalf a fairly routine conversion.  (Paarl Gym 40 Wynberg 0 - 46 minutes)

With many expecting the floodgates to open, it was Wynberg, to their immense credit, who promptly stunned the crowd by scoring next, lively hooker Kamva Mgwali breaking clear, untouched, from a maul to score a wonderful try from 25 metres out.  Replacement back Matthew Damonze slotted the conversion.  (Paarl Gym 40 Wynberg 7 - 48 minutes)

Slightly fazed by this turn of events, Gym lost the ball on the attack down the left flank, allowing Berg right wing flyer Lezaine Davis to make twenty metres before being stopped.  From the recycled ball, a lovely skip pass followed by an inside one saw Louw in the open on the Gym 22 for a textbook touchdown.  Damonze goaled the try.  (Paarl Gym 40 Wynberg 14 - 51 minutes)

Renewed hope caused Berg to get a bit overconfident and Burger was on hand to defuse their next attack, finding touch on his ten-metre line.

Wynberg’s surprise at a scrum being awarded to Gym hadn’t worn off when Gertse had them at sixes and sevens deep in their half.  A very optimistic long pass went astray, allowing Gym outside centre Migael Basson to run in his first try for the flagship team.  Burger added what was to be his last conversion.  (Paarl Gym 47 Wynberg 14 - 54 minutes)

Wynberg weren’t finished and saw a possible try disallowed after a marvellous pick-up on the run by left wing Daniel Hayes.  However, Gym were quick to twist the knife, kicking the ball through to allow Alexander to canter in from 35 metres to complete his hat-trick.  Replacement flyhalf Johan Smal converted.  (Paarl Gym 54 Wynberg 14 - 60 minutes)

A long Swanepoel clearance saw the visitors mount another attack, but poor handling ended their immediate hopes of adding to their total. Gym promptly attacked to the left and some acrobatic handling and a penalty for Berg going offside allowed Swanepoel to notch what proved to be the final try.  (Paarl Gym 59 Wynberg 14 - 67 minutes)   

Hoping to top the sixty-point mark, Gym ran the ball up from a Wynberg knock-on, but were themselves guilty of sloppy handling.  Although they conceded another scrum themselves for a similar offence, Berg had a penalty advantage, but could make little headway and full-time was blown with no further scoring.

Gym will have regarded this as a satisfactory precursor to the Faure Street game, their line-out variations in particular proving extremely successful, while the backline functioned smoothly even when Du Toit was forced off.

Wynberg have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed, having contributed fully to a rousing game played in the best of spirits.  Mgwali and Masango both put in good shifts, while Louw reprised his fine showing at Rondebosch last week.  They may have felt that they ended up on the wrong side of a few eyebrow-raising decisions, but were generally far too well disciplined to let that affect their game.

For Gym, the Big One looms large, while Wynberg face a two-week break before taking on Bishops on the Piley Rees on Friday 9 August 2019.



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