An Impressive Easter Report Card For Western Cape Schools

The mighty Quan! Paarl Boys’ High outside centre Quan Horn (left) neatly outpaces an Outeniqua defender in his side’s 34-26 home win on Saturday 6 April 2019.  (photo: Deborah Redelinghuys)

The uphill slog of the festival routine is just one step away from being a thing of the past for another year.

With both the Oudtshoorn Festival and the Cape Schools event cancelled, the only big hurdle for the various big guns, both within and without the Western Cape, is the Wildeklawer showdown in Kimberley from 1 to 4 May 2019.

This gives one a chance to reflect on the lessons to be taken from the Easter weekend, even if, but for Paarl Boys’ High, all the local interest was provided very much by what many might till now have termed the B-listers.

That said, one point that seems to repeat itself year after year is that we tend vastly to underestimate the true depth of the quality our province possesses.

The results on Thursday 18 April 2019 were proof positive that, in a match between a slightly above average Western Cape side and more highly rated opposition from elsewhere, the former will more often than not prevail.

While this should be extremely encouraging, it does raise the salient question of why there isn’t broader representation in the provincial youth teams, come July.

Thursday 18 April

The weekend started satisfactorily with HTS Drostdy managing to take care of HTS Middelburg, who appear to be back on an upward trajectory after a period off the boil, 19-14.

It was by no means a faultless performance, but the Donkeys, combined with the numerous errors made by their opponents, managed to eke out a win.

The highlight of the game was the remarkable midfield pick-up that led to full-back Keane Galant’s second try.

Regular St John’s visitors, Paarl Boys’ High made light of their allegedly sub-standard showing at home to Outeniqua a week ago by thrashing the Golden Lions Invitation XV 66-7, nine different players each crossing the line once, leaving prolific pivot Kian Meadon to slot a full house of nine conversions plus a penalty.

Over at KES Wynberg didn’t have a particularly hard time of it, beating an equally light Hudson Park of East London 37-0.

It was the results at St Stithian’s that was most encouraging.  Strugglers SACS were able to see off Kingswood 20-10, while Rondebosch put on another sterling defensive display to edge St Andrew’s of Grahamstown 17-10.

If nothing else, this performance served to underline Bosch’s claims - - which were to be reinforced as the weekend progressed - to be seen as a more serious force in the WP Premier A ranks, all the points coming via centre Dalvon Blood and the boot of full-back Conor van Eden.

Stellenberg may have lost the evening game at St John’s 8-10 to Helpmekaar, but the question in most people’s minds would have been how a side that bumbled its way through an hour against a second-tier Cape side could possibly have drawn 20-20 with Paarl Boys’ High and run Boland Landbou ragged, 64-17.

Maybe, just maybe, Stellenberg isn’t that bad!

Saturday 20 April

The first game featuring a Western Cape side did not go well, HTS Drostdy falling foul of an inspired Welkom Gym side 16-35.

The Donkeys were as dogged as ever, but the inventive brilliance of the Griffons team’s threequarters proved just too much for the pride of Worcester.  The way Gym played, they’d probably have put the wind up a few of our top local teams.

A defeat, but no disgrace.

Regrettably, the weather was to cause havoc in Gauteng, with the Wynberg vs Jeppe game at KES called off shortly after halftime due to the threat of lightning and the SACS vs St Stithian’s showpiece fixture at the latter school not even getting out of the starting blocks.

Luckily, the two Western Cape sides at St John’s both finished their matches.

Stellenberg again shone brightly, holding on to beat the fancied Nelspruit side, 13-5, a late Nivan Petersen penalty putting the Jade Brigade out of reach shortly before the end.

Speaking as candidly as they are wont to do, the coaching staff admitted that their charges had not performed to their full potential, but conceded that “winning ugly” is more often than not better than “losing pretty”.

Paarl Boys’ High had to wait until the weather had cleared substantially before serving up their customary masterclass, running a Windhoek Gym side that looked like they had never encountered rain on or off a rugby field before ragged 64-0.

Ten textbook tries had the Namibians grasping at thin air, while Boishaai pivot Kian Meadon rubbed a large pinch of salt in their wounds by converting seven in addition to scoring one himself.

But it is the performance of Rondebosch that definitely deserves top billing.

Pieter Benade’s lads showed that Thursday’s win over St Andrew’s was no upset by outlasting Port Elizabeth’s Grey High 18-17.

The usual suspects may have done the damage - centre Dalvon Blood and hooker Troy Fisher dotting down, full-back Conor van Eden adding eight points - but once again it was the uncompromising defence of the Canigou Carnivores that drew the most praise.

Monday 22 April

The first lesson that became abundantly clear on the third day of the Easter festivals was that, while you can trust all the schools to be up for the challenges they face, the weather remains the great imponderable, with the first four matches at St John’s all being called off fairly early on, not due to lightning this time, but thanks to the accompanying rain, which left the main field waterlogged.

Stellenberg were the only Western Cape casualties, their appetising points fest against the Golden Lions XV feeling the sharp edge of the axe.

Although Boishaai had to be content with a 40-0 win over Nelspruit in just 48 minutes’ playing time, they made it clear that they are approaching top form.

With both Rondebosch (40-5 vs Northcliff) and SACS (34-14 vs Prince Edward of Zimbabwe) winning, the weekend proved extremely successful for WP teams.

Last, but not least, HTS Drostdy mastered the difficult conditions to finish their Kearsney jaunt with a 27-19 win over Durban High.

Enough of Easter, the domestic weekend looms large!

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