This Saturday represents the end of the season for most schools teams in the three Western Cape provinces, with only some ten matches scheduled for 27 August.
With the Paul Roos-Grey Bloem facedown being handled more fully in another article, the local focus is firmly on Worcester, where HTS Drostdy receive Paarl Boys’ High. As if this clash needed an added edge, it has been turned into a double header: the scheduled fixture plus the Burger Western Province/Boland Big Schools semi-final. At the very time that the Streeptruie have slumped slightly, the Donkeys have shown again the marvellous form that marked the start to their season.
Many of the Boishaai players are household names by now, but get ready to learn a few more. Identical twins Gerhardt and Pieter de Wet, Xander Kuys and Izak Burger in the pack and Michael de Boer and Elbert de Wet (no relation) in the backline pose a serious threat in what will be the loser’s swansong for 2011.
In the southern suburbs Wynberg’s visit to Rondebosch will provide a good pointer as to how things might pan out in the big end-of-season clashes next weekend. Rondebosch are sure to exploit the absence of SA Schools cap Sikhumbuzo Notshe, but the backlines look very evenly matched. ’Bosch boast flyhalf William Keet and elusive wings Selom Gavor and Giovanni Hofmeyr; the ’Berg have Wandi Sompontsha, Yusuf Ismail and returning SA Academy pivot Dalton Kannemeyer. If the weather holds, expect fireworks.
Up in Newlands SACS host a Bishops side without Tim Swiel, who will start at flyhalf for SA Schools on Saturday following an injury to Jaco van der Walt, but boosted by the return of centre Johnny Kotze, back from his two-try performance for the SA Academy side. The Young Ikeys might have done better this year than last, but it still hasn’t been a season to capture the imagination. It seems very unlikely that the home side will turn the 68-27 May defeat around this weekend.
The only other local top-level side playing is Boland Landbou, who trek up to Riversdale for their traditional derby against an Oakdale side that is baring all its teeth. Boland started the year with a tough tour of New Zealand and the end promises to be no less demanding. The Oakdale loose trio of captain François van der Vyfer, Janneman Stander and Juandré Rudolph is arguably the finest anywhere in the Western Cape and, with the whole side mindful of next week’s trip west for the Burger large schools final, will be intent on maintaining their ruthless edge.
The other SWD derby takes place in Oudtshoorn, where Langenhoven Gym welcome Mossel Bay’s Punt. The visitors had a tough Burger medium school semi, which they lost 7-27 to Nico Malan, up the N2 in Humansdorp on Tuesday. Hopefully, they won’t have picked up any injuries because this promises to be a real thriller. Mindful of the fact that their opponents downed mighty Outeniqua 25-15 back in May, the Gimmies will be mildly concerned at the lack of opposition they encountered in their build-up game against the Combined Oudtshoorn Schools, whom they walloped 60-3 on Saturday.
Needless to say, there are plenty of derbies out in the Boland.
What is probably the biggest one sees Hugenote make the 40 kilometre trip to Swartland. So keenly aware are they of their failure to win either of the last two meetings, the visitors took almost as long to ratify the choice of referee as it has taken the hosts to prepare for the big day! The Blackies ought to win comfortably, but very few sides can hold a candle to the Rockies when it comes to rising to the occasion. They compare well with the knight in one Monty Python film who insists on continuing to attack his opponent with his sword clenched between his teeth after his arms and legs have been severed.
Hosts Vredendal should cope with arch-rivals Calvinia in the furthest reaches of the province, Dirkie Uys are odds-on favourites when Jan van Riebeeck come to lovely Moorreesburg and Stellenbosch will be brimming with confidence as they pop up to Worcester to face Montana.
The Caledon showdown between Overberg and Hermanus has all the hallmarks of a thriller. The Ovies have a highly-efficient team ready to blossom next season, while the Hermies are riding the wave of a very successful campaign. Although two massive games over the last week, against Swartland and Schoonspruit, may have taken something of a toll on the Whale Watchers, under the canny guidance of coach Graeme Bellingan and inspired leadership of talismanic skipper Thomas Bednall they are sure to find the hidden reserves of strength needed for the big day.
They might not be derbies, but there are three other equally enticing matches in the area.
In Clanwilliam the crack Augsburg Gym side entertains the accomplished Bredasdorp unit, for whom full back Christiaan Slabbert has been racking up the points –135 to be precise, which is just two less than the hosts’ pivot Janco Lehmann. The game promises to be just as close, but the Fishermen are advised to keep tearaway flank Aubrey Faul, who has crossed his opponents’ lines nine teams in the last fortnight, on a very tight leash.
Langenhoven High head to Montagu in preparation for next week’s biggie away to Swellendam. The Dasse have been in fine form for the last two years, largely driven by the Gouws and Van Staden brothers and the siege-gun boot of flyhalf Brion Beyers, but Montagu have a virtually identical success rate this year.
And so to Robertson for potentially the closest tussle anywhere in the Western Cape. Both the hosts and Swellendam boast 10/11 win records. The Swellies’ only defeat has been a 12-18 reverse away to Overberg in May, a side Robertson scraped past 22-20, thanks largely to 17 points from the boot of flank Pieter Kriel. Both teams have big derbies next Saturday, so no-one wants a setback now. Should be a nail-biter!
The only other all-Boland game sees Hopefield travel to Ceres to play Charlie Hofmeyr, one of the busier sides in the Boland this year. The Charlies form has not been that impressive, but this dress rehearsal for next week’s interschools in Robertson will see Boland Pienaar seeking to fine-tune his charges against a Hopefield team that was slightly off the boil until last Saturday’s 52-15 destruction of Velddrif.
At first glance the Western Province second tier doesn’t provide many highlights. The only match between two sides from this division sees HTS Bellville, very much the bottom feeders, host Tygerberg, who have amassed 108 tries in their 733 points this year, virtually every last one of them against considerably better opposition than HTS.
Otherwise, Bellville High welcome Kasselsvlei, De Kuilen roll out the mat for derby foes Worcester Gym and Monument Park do likewise for Boland stragglers Vredenburg, with the hosts overwhelming favourites to win all three.matches.
Milnerton will be out to test their mettle against DF Malan down at the coast, while Boland surprise-packet Labori, fresh from a 48-0 thrashing of JG Meiring, set out to try to break the home-side-always-wins-this-derby jinx against Bosmansdam in Bothasig.
In closing here are a few trivia questions for local schools rugby fundis:
1. Which is the only Western Cape (not just Western Province) side, apart from Tygerberg, to pass the 100-try mark
this season ?
2. Which Western Cape (again, not just Western Province) team boasts the best % success rate this season ?
Note that shortened matches like the Newlands, Hopefield and Boland Landbou Days are excluded, whereas overseas tours and matches against touring sides are included. Here’s a tip: there is virtually no possibility of the answers changing this Saturday!
Post your answers on the blog. Definitive ones in Monday’s wrap.
By Tony Stoops
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