Contrary to popular belief, the Paarl Interschools game does not herald the end of the Western Cape schools rugby season, just its zenith. There are still three weeks to go, with even the two Paarl schools back in action this Saturday.
In fact, Boishaai feature yet again in what looks like the match of the day. They welcome Boland Landbou to Brug Street, eager to expunge unpleasant memories, not least of the corresponding fixture two years ago, when Landbou pivot Tiaan Radyn scored all 23 points in a well-deserved 23-19 away win.
Current form suggests a repeat is unlikely. Although the Windmeul Warriors have shown remarkable resolve in defence in recent matches, they haven’t faced quite as multi-faceted an attack. Factor in Boishaai’s 20 August date in Worcester with HTS Drostdy for a place in the Die Burger final and, Faure Street aftershocks notwithstanding, the Strepies should take the field as favourites.
The other two all-top tier fixtures are the first of the second round of the southern suburbs derbies. Bishops start the build-up to their visit to Rondebosch on 27 August with a home match against a Wynberg side that has largely failed to exude confidence this year. Bishops trounced the ’Berg 35-14 up at Lovers Walk at the beginning of June and should win again this week. With the SA Academy team playing on Saturday and the SA Schools players under wraps ahead of their match on 20 August, the hosts will take the field without full back/flyhalf Tim Swiel and centre Johnny Kotze, while Wynberg lose the services of flank Sikhumbuzo Kotshe and pivot Dalton Kannemeyer.
SACS turned up in style at Rondebosch in mid-May, going down narrowly 15-19, but lots of water has passed under a variety of bridges since then. SACS showed signs of a dramatic improvement, navigating Cape Schools Week unbeaten and slaughtering Brackenfell 66-13, only for the all the wheels plus the spare to be blown off 75-0 by Boishaai a fortnight ago. It will require enormous character to come back from a result like that, even at home, especially so late in the season.
Paul Roos have slain the demons of Western Province’s poor Craven Week showing most efficiently, amassing over 100 points in their last three outings. All indications are that they will maintain this momentum as the home clash with Grey Bloem on 20 August approaches. Visitors HTS Drostdy will find the Maroon Platoon a pretty well insurmountable obstacle, but will definitely not just lie down and roll over.
De Kuilen haven’t lost in a while and can point to a close defeat at the hands of SACS and a win against Rondebosch, both at home, in the 2011 section of their 50 year CV. A rejuvenated Paarl Gim side will pose a rather different threat out in the Winelands in what is their last outing in what was until recently a rather forgettable campaign.
There are two major attractions in the SWD.
First is the huge derby between the Struisies (Oudtshoorn) and the Quaggas (Outeniqua), which takes place in George on Saturday. The two teams appear particularly evenly matched this year, but the hosts may have the advantage when it comes down to the kicking tee with flyhalf Du Toit Hills in great form.
The other highlight is the Die Burger semi-final visit of EP’s Framesby to Riversdale for a date with the Bulle of Oakdale. While the locals would do well to watch out for the visitors’ highly-regarded young pivot Ernst Stapelberg, who represented his province at this year’s Grant Khomo Week, it is hard to see them losing focus with Boland Landbou arriving for interschools next Saturday.
Nearer to the centre of Riversdale Langenhoven High welcome a Robertson side which boasts the best record in the Boland this season. Their only defeat came away two weeks back against Stellenbosch High, 17-23, and even then it took a virtuoso kicking performance by ’Bosch full back Charlton Coetzee into the wind to trump the visitors’ 3-1 advantage in the try stakes.
It might not be the Gimmies against Boishaai, but another just as fiercely contested derby takes place at the Faure Street ground this Saturday. Klein Nederburg and New Orleans have long been seen to represent all that is exciting about the game in the platteland. Neither side has enjoyed much success this year, but New Orleans will start as favourites, even though they might well be missing flyhalf Damian Engledoe, who will be away on SA Academy duty.
Piketberg’s short road-trip to Porterville for their eagerly-anticipated interschools looks like the best bet for entertainment in the Boland. The home side has wobbled a little of late whereas the Piketberg side has put together a very impressive late charge. Too close to call!
After having beaten Hawston 10-5 in last Saturday’s Classic Clash, hosts Hermanus should have the beating of a Swartland side desperate to keep a fit unit together if they are to stand any sort of a chance in the interschools against Hugenote in Malmesbury on 20 August. Bredasdorp are unlikely to raise much of a sweat against visitors Emil Weder, while Augsburg Gym should find time for a celebratory dip after their trip to Vredenburg, who have yet to win this year.
Worcester Gym are set to experience the Punt resurgence first-hand as the Mossel Bay unit (minus SA Academy cap Linden Rhode), who humbled Outeniqua 25-15 back in May, pays them what should prove a fruitful visit; Hugenote should repel the Brackenfell boarders successfully, but Montana face a toughie against Hottentots Holland down in Somerset West.
Other fixtures are Dirkie Uys’s visit to Vredendal, Montagu’s trek to Ceres to face Charlie Hofmeyr and Overberg’s home game against Stellenbosch.
The Western Province second level tosses up two traditional derbies. DF Malan vs Bellville might not get one drooling, but Stellenberg’s visit to Durbanville does, big time. The Stellies have a fair record, having only lost twice, at home to Punt and Wynberg. However, the Durbies are the only 1st XV anywhere in the top tiers of the three Western Cape provinces with a 100% win record – and their fourteen straight wins include three matches in South America. This one is going to be massive!
For the rest, Tygerberg, even without try-hungry SA Academy star Edwin Sass, are likely to be far too strong for Strand, but it’s difficult to pick a winner in the HTS Bellville – Jan van Riebeeck encounter.
By Tony Stoops
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