(Photo Credit: Debi Botha/Speedshots.co.za)
Grey College is patiently picking off all the 1stXV teams who see themselves as possible contenders for the 1stXV crown in 2019. Paarl Boishaai was never seen as a possible contender earlier in the season with everybody waiting to see if new coach Peter Engledow will be able to walk in the big footprints left by Sean Erasmus.
Boishaai started the season slow and after the 0-5 defeat at the Newlands popcorn day, everybody in the know predicted doom. The draw against Helpmekaar 20-20 did nothing to change the pundits' minds but thereafter Boishaai steadily improved and after their demolishing of Affies (39-12) at Wildeklawer everybody suddenly see them as a real threat to Grey College. Boishaai played 12 games up to date, winning 2, losing 1 and drew 1.
Grey College fired the first shots already early in the season with a 60-21 win against Duineveld and did not lift their foot from the petrol since. At Wildeklawer they did not put one foot wrong with a 47-33 win against Paarl Gim on the final day. One got a feeling in that game that they were toying with Gim in the second half only reacting when Gim scored. Maybe or maybe not. Grey unbeaten after 10 games this season and looking for their 29th win in a row with their last loss against Selborne (19-20) in 2017 at Selborne.
"It’s never a really good time to play Grey College anywhere, let alone in front of their huge support base, but Boishaai will consider this as good a time as any, having recorded two very impressive wins at Wildeklawer. The Brug Street Machine boasts its usual all-around strength.
A sturdy front-row sees Rhynhardt Rijnsburger at loosehead alongside busy hooker Allister Williams and tighthead Sebastian Lombard; Evan Roode and Jade Hendricks lock the scrum and no. 8 Gideon van Wyk, Stass Nel and Niel Venter constitute a fearsome loose trio.
The backline is a destructive force if ever there was one. Halfbacks Wian van der Sandt and Kian Meadon need no invitation to send centres Tyler Bocks and the dynamic Quan Horn on their way, with the back three of Angelo Osch, Javier Farmer and Riis du Plessis as redoubtable on the attack as in defence." - Uncle Tony Stoops
Grey's pack of forwards must be the best in the country with Jan-Hendrik Wessels a big mother with ball carrying abilities normally associated with number 8's. Andre-Hugo Venter at hooker and Petrus Naude make up the rest of the Grey, possible Free State and SA Schools front row. Danwich Beukes at lock and George Cronje at number 8 also possible SA School's candidates.
However, what sets Grey College apart from the rest is their backline which is simply sublime. I have not seen a backline in South Africa, senior rugby included that can handle the ball at the speed that Grey College's does. It will be unfair to name one or two players at the back they are individually and as a unit brilliant.
Grey College plays a very conservative and structured game plan sometimes experienced as boring. They use their big forwards to dominated and supply their backs with quality ball to run their opponents' defence to pieces. Boishaai will have to concentrate on their defensive effort early on in the game to try and disrupt the calmness and rhythm of Grey College before they must even think to play their own game.
Boishaai will need to go out there and beat Grey College at the front and then with dedicated and physical defence disrupt the Grey College backline, if they do that, then just maybe the trip back to the Paarl will be a nice trip.
However, I can not see Paarl Boishaai coming close to beat Grey College in Bloemfontein with Grey my favourite to beat Paarl Boishaai with at least 20 points. At least.
Grey College: 1. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 2. Andre-Hugo Venter, Petrus Naude, 4. tiaan Jonker, 5. Danwich Beukes, 6. Ricardo Fourie, 7. Deon le Roux, 8. George Cronje, 9. Juan Dee Oliver, 10. FC du Plessis, 11. Franco Knoetze, 12. Lesley Botha, 13. Ian Small-Smith, 14. JD Odendaal, 15. Nabo Sokoyi.
Paarl Boishaai: 1. Rhynhardt Rijnsburger, 2. Allister Williams, 3. Sebastiaan Lombard, 4. Evan Roode, 5. Niel Venter, 6. Stass Nel, 7. Eon vs Bergh, 8. Gideon van Wyk, 9. Wian vd Sandt, 10. Kian Meadon, 11. Javier Farmer, 12. Tyler Bocks, 13. Quan Horn, 14. Angelo Osch, 15. Jacques Rossouw.