Bulldogs Hit A Brick Wall

Eyes down and looking! The Parel Vallei forwards hit a ruck in search of the ball during their team’s 17-24 home defeat on Saturday 27 April 2019.  (photo: Caitlyn Chaney)

After a curiously subdued first thirty-five minutes which saw them change around 19-3 to the good, Rondebosch engaged afterburners, running in a further eight tries, to hammer visitors Parel Vallei 73-11 at the Tinkie Heyns field on Saturday 11 May 2019.

A beautiful clear day greeted the fairly sparse crowd who decided to come and see just how the Somerset West team would shape up on its first venture into uncharted territory.

Although the visitors’ flyhalf Jan Rademan pushed Bosch back from the kick-off, the hosts immediately ran it back at them, an uncharacteristic knock-on in the midfield costing them possession.  Shortly after the scrum, the hosts infringed at a maul, but Rademan’s attempt at goal flew wide.

The early exchanges seemed to fill the Bulldogs with confidence and they stole the ball at a ruck, only for their pivot to have his kick charged down.  Nevertheless, Parel Vallei kept up the pressure, finding touch 23 metres from the Bosch tryline.

Unfortunately, the first of many line-out steals was wasted when Bosch full-back Conor van Eden was allowed to intercept a pass and chipped ahead, but a knock-on robbed his side of a possible try.

Maintaining the pressure, the hosts forced the Bulldogs to carry the ball over their own line, thus conceding a five-metre scrum.  To the local supporters’ consternation, the visitors’ hooker, Shane Roberts, raked a tighthead, allowing Rademan to clear the ball to safety.

With the bit between their teeth, Parel Vallei attacked down the right via outside centre Gethin Joseph, but a knock-on followed by a free kick provided Van Eden with the opportunity to relieve the pressure.

Bosch finally stole the ball at a ruck but lost any momentum by kicking directly into touch. Shortly afterwards the hosts conceded a penalty in midfield, allowing Rademan to open the scoring. (Rondebosch 0 Parel Vallei 3 - 15 minutes)

This galvanised the home team, who strung together several passes which ended with outside centre Dalvon Blood putting Van Eden clear to dot down wide on the left.  As he did with all but two of his side’s tries, the full-back added the conversion. (Rondebosch 7 Parel Vallei 3 - 18 minutes)

Undeterred, the visitors attacked via stocky full-back Leonard de Leeuw, but his opposite number cleared the ball into touch fifteen metres from the home line.

This time the Bulldogs found out just how dangerous the Canigou Carnivores can be when they turned over possession.  Home scrumhalf Ishma-eel Safodien broke to the right and fed inside centre Matthew McLeod-Smith who burst through for an unconverted try. (Rondebosch 12 Parel Vallei 3 - 24 minutes)

With the hosts finally flexing their not inconsiderable muscle, it was lock Will McDonald who put in a driving run, forcing De Leeuw to scramble the ball into touch on his 22-metre line.

The Helderbergers stole another line-out ball but could make little progress before knocking the ball on, allowing their hosts to keep up the pressure.  From a ruck on the line, Safodien darted through the bemused.defence to score near the posts.  Van Eden converted. (Rondebosch 19 Parel Vallei 3 - 32 minutes)

Despite securing plenty of quality ball, the Bulldogs couldn’t penetrate the home defence, tending either to overelaborate or run too laterally.  However, they looked promising down the left channel, only to be penalised, much to their supporters’ disenchantment, right on half-time. Half-time: Rondebosch 19 Parel Vallei 3.

A stern talking to at the water break seemed about to bear fruit when De Leeuw sent right wing Zander Swart away down the touchline, after which the backs smoothly switched play, but, unable to make the breakthrough, had to be content with a penalty by replacement flyhalf Juan Cornelius. (Rondebosch 19 Parel Vallei 6 - 37 minutes)

Another De Leeuw-inspired attack came to nought with a handling error, Bosch seizing possession and moving the ball left at pace, where Van Eden drew the defence and sent right wing Tiaan van Loggerenberg clear from twenty metres out.  The small full-back raised the flags from close to touch. (Rondebosch 26 Parel Vallei 6 - 42 minutes)

At this point the home team took firm control of proceedings, showing the verve they did against Boland Landbou a few weeks earlier, with the forwards launching several penetrative runs as a unit, forcing Cornelius, whose quick distribution seemed to have speeded up his backline, to clear several times.

The visitors weren’t quite sure how to cope and it came as no surprise that the next Bosch try saw Blood intercept a wild pass and trot over untouched for his side’s fifth try.  Van Eden stretched the lead to 27 points. (Rondebosch 33 Parel Vallei 6 - 46 minutes)

Thirteen nightmare minutes later, Bosch had sailed past the half-century mark.

First, a skip pass to McLeod-Smith saw him send Safodien in for his second try, duly converted. (Rondebosch 40 Parel Vallei 6 - 48 minutes).

The next hammer-blow was dealt by a slick move started by Bosch no. 8 Josh King, who fed Safodien, who in turn released flyhalf Kian Davis for another converted try. (Rondebosch 47 Parel Vallei 6 - 51 minutes).

Scarcely had play resumed when a huge gap opened up in the visitors’ defensive line, an invitation to add seven points which Van Eden had no intention of refusing. (Rondebosch 54 Parel Vallei 6 - 53 minutes)

After a brief lull, Van Eden found touch five metres from the Parel Vallei line, which led to left-wing Connor Kotze scything through a static defence to cross at the posts, enabling Van Eden to add to his impressive tally. (Rondebosch 61 Parel Vallei 6 - 59 minutes)

To their credit the boys from Somerset West were still up for the fight, feeding the ball to De Leeuw, who popped up on the wing to score in the right-hand corner. (Rondebosch 61 Parel Vallei 11 - 62 minutes)

Despite their still taking Bosch line-out ball with almost frightening regularity, the visitors suddenly seemed devoid of ideas, allowing substitute wing Ferdi Erasmus the chance to score for Van Eden to add his ninth conversion. (Rondebosch 68 Parel Vallei 11 - 68 minutes)

Time was running out as debutant flank Sebastian Bauriedl added his name to the lengthy list of contributors to Bosch’s scoresheet with an unconverted try right on the final whistle. Final score: Rondebosch 73 Parel Vallei 11.

To be fair to the visitors, their expressed intention ahead of the game was to learn about life in the big league, something which would have seemed like nothing more than wishful thinking five years ago.

Given the number of chances their big men created with good line-out steals, they might have done better, but in the face of unrelenting pressure, they were, as many a more experienced side might be, found wanting.

That said, the backline needs to move onto the front foot far more quickly if they are to optimise their scoring opportunities.

For Bosch, it was a good day at the office despite some hiccups in the opening stages.  The biggest positive would be that their three-quarters were moving with commendable grace and speed throughout the second half.  However, whether other opponents will give them as much leeway remains to be seen.

One can only hope that the Bulldogs learnt some valuable lessons from a combination which is enjoying its best start to a season in many years.

Article by: http://www.stoopstats.co.za/

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