Calm Before The Wildeklawer Storm

“Come to papa !”  Boland Landbou scrumhalf Jacques Theron (centre) waits impatiently for the ball
as Rondebosch’s Dalvon Blood (13), Ishma-eel Safodien (9) and Lukhanyo Vokozela (right)
close in.  Bosch won the match, played on their Tinkie Heyns field on Saturday 13 April 2019, 36-26.  (photo: Mariza Smith)


Although this might perhaps not be the most suitable metaphor - given the floods that hit KZN on Tuesday and the disruption caused to the Easter festivals by lightning over the weekend in Gauteng - it does, unfortunately, sum up the prospects for this weekend on the local front.

The only really tempting matches see Premier A sides Paarl Gym welcoming Oakdale and Wynberg engaging in their huge multi-code interschools weekend with Grey High School, while upwardly-mobile Stellenberg takes on Outeniqua.

For the rest, Boland Landbou host Tygerberg and DF Malan visit SACS, while struggling Brackenfell make the trip into the southern suburbs to face rampant Rondebosch.

Bishops and Paul Roos are only crossing swords from 3rd XV level down as the Young Maties have dispatched a sizable contingent in Japan for the SANIX tournament and the Paarl Boys’ High group travelling to Worcester to take on HTS Drostdy does not include their flagship side.

Nothing could underline the frustrating stop-start nature of the season so far better than the Gym - Bulls fixture.

Even though both sides have enjoyed a two-week break from hostilities, the timing of this big showdown couldn’t be worse, coming as it does five days before the rigours of Wildeklawer.

Gym may have won the last three outings against the Riversdale side (41-17, 31-27 and 47-39), but, even so, they’d just as soon face less taxing opposition with Grey College lying in wait on Saturday.  Oakdale’s visit to Diamantveld is no less fraught with danger as they take the field against Garsfontein and Menlopark, both very ambitious teams dying to claim some major scalps.

Gym may have marched purposefully through their games thus far, but, after a shaky beginning, the Bulls showed great character to pip HTS Drostdy 42-40 a fortnight ago.

Neither side finds themselves laden with players with huge reputations to defend.  One could, in fact, say the visitors will arrive as a no-name brand side when measured against the likes of Gym’s Tiaan Swanepoel, Stravino Jacobs, Juan Wilson and Pierich Siebert.

They will definitely not be intending to depart with the same tag.

Wynberg only had one chance to show their paces at the KES festival, beating a tame Hudson Park team 37-0 before thunderbolt and lightning (“very very frightening”) put an early end to their match with Jeppe.  Prior to that, they lost 6-7 at home to Stellenberg, hardly an auspicious build-up.

Grey gave Paul Roos plenty to think about before going down 18-24 but then found resurgent Rondebosch too hot to handle at St Stithian’s, losing 17-18.

Nevertheless, one can’t realistically see the Powder Blues taking too much strain at Hawthornden, especially with virtually the whole school there to cheer them on.

Stellenberg, a Premier A side in all but name, has played steady, unspectacular rugby to churn out some close results over the last few weeks.

As mentioned above, they beat Wynberg away from home and turned in excellent performances at St John’s, losing 8-10 to a Helpmekaar team that held Paarl Boys’ High 20-20 and lambasted Boland Landbou 64-17 little over a month ago.

The presence of Nivan Petersen has a calming effect on the side, which in turn gives potential stars such as locks Tyrone Rose and Mika Cowley and backs Hedley Hadlow and Tharquinn Manuel the confidence to express themselves.

Outeniqua has only had four games, losing three and flaying Brackenfell 65-0 in the fourth, which, I’m afraid, is basically meaningless.  They have their usual nippy backs but lack the match practice to utilise them.

Could this be the chance half-backs Abrie Minnie and Matthew Thorne, last year’s full-back, need to give a truer account of their abilities?  Most of George will be hoping so.

It is difficult to see any of the three, second league outfits coming away from their top tier opponents victorious on Saturday.

Boland Landbou will be hell-bent on erasing the memory of their defeat at Rondebosch when the Tygers come out to the farm, SACS hold too many aces for an inexperienced DF Malan side and the only complacency after a very successful fortnight stands between Rondebosch and a big score against Brackenfell.

As far as the Boland goes, the Hermanus vs Swartland match looks like the pick of a fairly ordinary bunch.

However, the Rockies will have to find a quick solution to their dismal showing on Tuesday, which saw them crash to a 38-19 defeat to Schoonspruit in the Malmesbury derby despite enjoying a huge majority of the ruck and line-out ball.

Other potentially entertaining games are Bonnievale vs Montana, Porterville vs Hopefield, Overberg vs Bredasdorp and Dirkie Uys vs Labori.

With the two big guns playing in the Peninsula, the South Western Districts fare is pretty sparse, the Oudtshoorn vs Langenhoven Gym derby and Montagu’s trip to Punt in Mossel Bay being the only attractions.

Several matches involving WP Premier B teams look promising.

Newboys Parel Vallei will be keen to overturn last year’s 49-8 defeat when Bellville come to Somerset West, while you could do a lot worse than catching the Charlie Hofmeyr vs Strand fixture if you happen to live in or around Ceres.  Finally, Durbanville is at home to Hugenote, another match which promises a reasonably closely-fought game.

Next weekend is Wildeklawer time, but there is a full programme on around the province as it is not a long weekend.

The highlights are the first of the southern suburbs derbies, in which SACS drive over to Bishops and Rondebosch head up the hill to Hawthornden to play Wynberg.

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