Normally the first Saturday in the third term would be a massive anticlimax after the taken-for-granted success of the three Western Cape Craven Week sides. Not so in 2011! However Boland and the South Western Districts choose to cope with the fall-out from their sides patchy performances, this weekend marks the start of a process of rehabilitating the Western Province Schools brand.
One game, the only all-super-league clash of the day, stands out for several reasons. Bishops travel to Matieland to face a Paul Roos team containing seven of the Western Province Craven Week side. The two Bishops national caps (Tim Swiel (SA Schools) and Johnny Kotze (SA Academy) both had impressive outings in Tuesday’s pulsating win against Wellington College. Wouldn’t it be ironic were the Maroon Platoon to beat the Platinum Blues barely a week after their provincial contingent failed so dismally to deliver the goods when it mattered!
Paarl Boys’ High welcome Oakdale, who only just succumbed to Paarl Gym last time out, to the southern end of Paarl.
A key contest could be between the two sets of loose forwards, one area where Oakdale are particularly impressive. Inspirational captain François van der Vyfer led the Eagles Craven Week side with distinction. His duel with the likes of brilliant youngster Dean Hensley could prove decisive.
Boishaai’s enviable backline resources may also prove telling. Left wing JP le Roux has scored ten tries this season (as has talented tighthead JE van der Merwe, for that matter). Provided that the local defence can rein in powerful Bulle centres Lex Botha and elusive Michael Bernardt, the honours should go the way of the hosts.
Oakdale fought back spiritedly against the Gimmies and might well have won had the game lasted five more minutes. However, the Blue-and-White Stripers are renowned for their brilliant efforts at the death: just ask Rondebosch and Tygerberg, both of whom were trampled on in the latter stages.
Paarl Gim head up to George for what should be a very close tussle with Outeniqua. Neither side has set the lights flashing this season, but Gim have been improving steadily and a great Cape Schools Week showing should prove to be a stepping board in the right direction, particularly against a Quagga crew that hasn’t exhibited the flair one has come to associate with the school. The hosts look good up front – No.8 Christopher Richardson did well at Craven Week – but the well-balanced visitors will be looking to young pivot Handré Pollard to keep them on the front foot.
Still sunbathing in the glory of their awesome victory over Selborne, Boland Landbou must be very optimistic about lowering Drostdy’s colours out at the Farm. Missing most of their pack, the Donkeys were a bit lethargic at Malmesbury last weekend. Although much will depend on the mental and physical state of the Worcester outfit’s returning Craven Week caps, one suspects that Landbou are going to pull through, particularly given the form of halfbacks Philip Molnar and Jan Frylinck.
The other three super league teams all visit premier league opposition.
Rondebosch hit Kuils River to play De Kuilen. The Canigou Carnivores, who are unlikely to repeat Thursday’s drab showing, in which they went down 8-10 to Wellington College, will probably have too much flair for their hosts, even should Giovanni Hofmeyr, the outstanding wing in the province, and centre Hilio de Abreu be declared unfit to play.
A magical unbeaten run at Cape Schools Week should have banished any self-doubt the young SACS side might still have harboured, even if they did concede defeat 10-15 against UK tourists Sedburgh on Tuesday. They’re off to Brackenfell.
Finally, Wynberg face a tricky excursion to Stellenberg, whose only defeat this campaign has come against Mossel Bay’s Punt. The lads from Lovers Walk’s expansive style of play, which so nearly toppled Selborne, faces a serious challenge on their hosts’ notoriously narrow field. There just might be a surprise home win in this one.
Apart from the Outeniqua-Paarl Gim confrontation, three other fixtures are scheduled for Eagles territory on Saturday.
Oudtshoorn will be intent on celebrating scrumhalf Percy Williams’s SA Schools selection with a home victory against Punt, who themselves boast an SA Academy cap in centre Linden Rhode.
The Struisies’ neighbours, Langenhoven Gym, should be capable of dealing with visitors PW Botha from George, while the Dasse of Langenhoven High are strong favourites to down Sentraal in Beaufort West.
Boland might not have enjoyed a particularly successful Craven Week, but the game is still extremely healthy at individual school level. This Saturday sees several attractive games scattered around the area.
Top billing goes to Dirkie Uys’s visit to Porterville. The Tigers’ powerful backline, spearheaded by mighty Jason Kriel, whose five tries made him the joint top try scorer at the Craven Week in Kimberley last week, is their strongpoint whereas the Porterville pack, with SA Schools cap Andrew Beerwinkel up front, is devastating with ball in hand. Toss in the fact that the two towns are relatively close to one another and you have all the ingredients for a nailbiter.
A couple of kilometers away Piketberg welcome Augsburg Gym, a week after both experienced mixed fortunes at Malmesbury. Even with the talismanic Jacques Rossouw back in defence, it’s hard to imagine the ’Berg beating the Clanwilliam side, for whom Aubrey Faul and Anwill Swartz have been in impressive form.
Charlie Hofmeyr are well aware that they are facing an uphill battle when they visit Hugenote in Wellington. Despite their forwards supplying an almost uninterrupted stream of possession, the Charlies struggled to a 10-10 draw on Wednesday in Paarl with Klein Nederburg, whom the Blackies thrashed 45-3 late last term.
Right now Worcester Gym are just about all that stands between Durbanville and an unbeaten season now, but Bosvarkpark has been the ruin of many a side over the years. Another unbeaten side, Robertson, will be defending their record away to relative unknowns Stellenbosch, while Montagu are going to have to pull out all the stops when Caledon’s Overberg hit town.
Swellendam have every reason to be anxious ahead of their visit to Bredasdorp, following a spate of injuries including Boland Craven Week skipper Petrus Uys, who was crocked during Wednesday’s 34-3 win over Barrydale.
Labori’s recent run of success faces a stiff challenge with the arrival of Western Province premier league opponents Monument Park. However, Schoonspruit aren’t likely to raise much of a sweat away to Vredenburg.
Other matches involving Western Province premier league sides see Bellville entertain HTS Bellville, DF Malan welcome Jan van Riebeeck and Strand host Swartland, the last two sides both having seriously turned their seasons round in the past nine days.
Tygerberg High’s game against slick tourists Campbell College, who boast several Irish Schools players, promises great entertainment, particularly after the two sides had the opportunity to suss each other out recently at Swartland.
The Boland gets another taste of English schools rugby when Hopefield hosts Bristol Grammar School on Monday 25 July.
By Tony Stoops
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