Bishops and Bosch Square Off

“Play it again, Sam !”  Bishops left wing Sam Marthinussen exploits the gap between
the Boishaai props, Armand Coetzee (left) and Rhynhardt Rijnsburger, during his side’s 23-41 home defeat on Saturday 1 June 2019.  (photo: Caleb Bjergfelt)

The Fixtures section will tell you that this weekend features just two games, but rest assured that one of them - the first Rondebosch face-off between Bishops and Rondebosch of 2019 - is arguably the most eagerly awaited rugby event of the year on this side of the Boerewors Curtain (roughly demarcated by Plattekloof Road).

Even the build-up for both teams could hardly have been more perfectly scripted.

Bishops lost to Paarl Gym (10-31), beat Bellville (48-20), SACS (39-21), Boland Landbou (53-19) and Wynberg (60-40) before being brought down to earth with a bump by a very well-drilled Paarl Boys’ High side (23-41) last Saturday.

Locally Bosch tasted defeat against Paul Roos (7-31), beat Boland Landbou (36-26), Brackenfell (26-5), Wynberg (28-17), Parel Vallei (73-11) and SACS (27-8) only to receive a serious splash of ice-cold water against Premier B grafters Stellenberg (19-26) at the weekend.

Nett result? Both squads will be dying to set the record straight and what better opportunity could there be than a morale-boosting victory over the old enemy, come 8 June?

Let’s have a look at the two teams, who, for the first time in ages, boast a large number of WP Under 18 representatives.

Please note that the line-ups discussed here are based on those that took the field in recent matches.  Craven Week representatives are marked (CW) or (CW XV); Academy Week ones, (AW).

The back three

The Bishops rearguard is actually more of a vanguard.

This paradoxical observation can be explained by saying that full-back Matt Lennett, right-wing Luca Liebenberg and left wing Sam Marthinussen are all fast movers, built for the purpose of attack, even if Liebenberg is a pretty robust young man.  In other words, true to the Bishops tradition, their strength is in their attacking or, at worst counter-attacking, capabilities.

The Platinum Blues have adopted the mantra of “the way to beat other teams is simply to outscore them.”  This might conceal potential weaknesses, but we’ll have to wait for the big game to see.

Lennett is the designated kicker but does not have quite the same range as some of his WP Premier A peers.

The Rondebosch trio of Conor van Eden (AW) at 15, Tiaan van Loggerenberg at 14 and Lehan Botha (or Connor Kotze) at 11 is also a better prospect going forward, but Van Eden and Botha, should he play, have extensive 1st XV game-time in other positions - in fact, the former is reported to have been selected for the WP Academy Week side at scrum-half, where he played quite a few matches last year !

Botha is similarly versatile.  A talented cricketer, his ball skills are outstanding, plus he has done first-team duty in virtually every backline position, except flyhalf, if memory serves.  Van Loggerenberg’s speed, once he gets going, makes him very difficult to stop.

Midfield

The home duo of Michael Ford and Ollie Jones were treated to a rude awakening by their very talented Boishaai counterparts last Saturday and will probably wake up sweating in the middle of the night grasping for their pillows in case they get away from them.

They have, however, scored thirteen tries between them, which speaks for their effectiveness going forward.  Ford is a strongly-built runner, while the willowy Jones resembles the Leyds boys in stature.

Bosch will be grateful that captain Jordan Collier will be available after a long injury lay-off, especially now that Matthew McLeod-Smith’s season has cruelly come to an end.

The chunky little midfield general is the perfect foil for his explosive outside partner, Dalvon Blood (AW), who has yet to reprise his magnificent try-scoring feats of 2018 but combines superbly on the attack with Van Eden.

Half-backs

Rondebosch first this time.

Kian Davis (AW) has matured rapidly in his role of flyhalf, his reading of when to pass and when (and where) to put his pinpoint grubbers belying a youngster who is only in Grade 11.

Next to him, Ishma-eel Safodien (CW XV) has also developed rapidly, his sniping runs and astute ability to anticipate openings in the defence, both with the ball in hand and when in support, having seen him score three tries in as many games of late.

Bishops flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu (CW) is a tall, elegant player who is happiest dictating play but is not scared to exploit defensive lapses himself, as Boishaai learnt on Saturday when he caught them unawares to twist through for a fine try.

The most surprising statistic about his partner in crime, Liam Kloosman (CW), is that the cheeky little no.9 has only dotted down twice this season.  Elusive?  Again, ask last Saturday’s opponents, against whom he took a tap penalty, chipped it over the defence and won the forty-metre race to the try-line against much larger defenders quite comfortably.

Verdict?  The duel between the scrum-halves could well be a major factor in deciding the outcome of the match.

The loose trio

Although Bishops will be without workhorse skipper and no.8 Isaiah Wharton (CW), Jono Bird filled the void quite capably last weekend, providing support for Euan Groenewald and Connor Evans (CW), whose mobility was striking for a youngster more accustomed to playing lock.

They had a torrid time against the Brug Street boys but can take comfort from the observation that Gideon van Wyk has dished out similar punishment to all his opponents.

The Canigou Carnivores’ three amigos have been a crucial facet of their team’s generally miserly defence this campaign.  Their dedication to that aspect of their task is borne out by the fact that they have only scored one try apiece.

No.8 Josh King, the youngest of the family that has given such sterling service to the school in recent years, has been masterful, both at line-outs and in the loose, leading the attacking line as often as supporting it.

Matthew Cohen and Sebastian Bauriedl might not grab as much of the limelight, but pick up a loose ball anywhere near them and see how far you get!

Lock

With Matt Gray, the stand-in Bosch skipper, still wearing an ankle brace as recently as Monday, it is likely that Campbell Slater, who has two tries to his credit in little over two matches, will partner Mr Dependable Will McDonald, a major power in the engine room.

The Bishops duo of acting captain Jack Hampshire and lanky Sam Rudston performed commendably against their Winelands visitors last week.  Both are very mobile and fit seamlessly into the hosts’ attacking style.

Front row

This is where things get really interesting.

Bishops hooker, Keagan Blanckenberg (CW XV), is a terrier in the loose, wreaking as much havoc as any loose forward with his well-timed runs, which have brought him three delightful tries.

Props Teubes van Niekerk and James Bolton have not played together enough for one to form an opinion of them as a combination either way, but both are of solid build and want for nothing in the fitness department.

The Bosch front row is as tough as anything in the province and that’s official.

Not only have both props, Bryan le Roux (CW) and Lukhanyo Vokozela (CW), been picked for the flagship side, but their deputies, Jason Johnson (CW XV) and Lamla Nunu (AW) have also received call-ups!  Need one say more?

This is about as common in the annals of local schools rugby as a Protea World Cup victory is in cricket, such accolades normally being earmarked for the front-row factory at Boys’ High.

It is quite likely that hooker Troy Fisher might have joined them, were it not for the fact that he is a December child and thus ineligible.  The feisty hooker is several handfuls in the tight-loose and open play and is his side’s leading try scorer with eight five-pointers, one more than Blood!

In conclusion

It would seem that, while there is an ominous look to the Bosch pack, the dazzling handling that left Boland Landbou and Wynberg bemused might just give the hosts a slight edge in the backline department.

They say the churches were full last Sunday: half the congregations praying that the South African cricket team can still pull something out of the fire that is their World Cup campaign, the other half grateful for the alternative entertainment.

The Piley Rees will be similarly divided on Saturday, based on whether you support the boys in blue or those playing in their alternative white strip.

It might not be early August at Faure Street, but aim to get there early unless you don’t mind fighting your way through disenchanted cricket-lovers waving placards saying “Avoid knock-out round disappoint; lose hopelessly in the pool stages“

Oh, and if you’re agoraphobic, the match will be broadcast live on DSTV channel 210 from 12:10.

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

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