Northern Suburbs Sides Dominate At Swartland

“Nope, it’s definitely mine !”  Western Province prop Rhynhardt Rijnsburger contests 
possession with a Blue Bulls opponent during the unofficial Craven Week final, won 
56-31 by the Cape side, at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Saturday 6 July 2019.  
The photograph was taken by Jorina Raath of Speedshots.  Do yourself a
favour and view the five galleries of their work, one for each
day of the recent Under 18 provincial weeks, on this site.

The annual Swartland Rugby Festival, which took place in Malmesbury on Thursday 4 and Saturday 6 July 2019, proved as successful as ever, with all the sides enjoying their matches in a wonderful, competitive spirit, but free of any serious injury.  Not surprisingly, the WP Premier B schools, with the exception of Tygerberg, won all their games.

Thursday: Results

Strand 24-3  Vredenburg
Gill College 17-12  HTS Bellville
DF Malan 24-3 Labori
Bellville 31-24 Schoonspruit
SACS 36-0  Tygerberg
Durbanville 81-12  Muir College
Stonyhurst (England) 45-15  Swartland

Strand and Vredenburg got the ball rolling on a very cold - but crystal clear - morning.  Despite concerns that the West Coast lads would take a beating, they acquitted themselves reasonably well, restricting their opponents, who must be the smallest 1st XV in the country, having two backs that come in under five feet tall, to four tries.  The pick of the bunch came from workhorse flank Mauritz Swart, who earned the Man of the Match award in the process.

Eastern Cape ever-presents Gill College from Somerset East ran up a comfortable 17-0 lead in the first half, but ended up having to defend in depth as HTS Bellville, now plying their trade in the WP third tier came back strongly late in the game.

DF Malan surprised themselves - and coach Bertus Enslin - with a very workmanlike display to see off Paarl’s Labori.  Flank Guillaume Swanepoel and jack-in-the-box scrumhalf Arné van den Heever, the Man of the Match, each nabbed two tries as the Bellville side coasted home after leading 19-7 at the break.

The Bellville - Schoonspruit match was indisputably the match of the day.  The WP second tier side grossly underestimated their opponents, finding themselves 0-19 down in just about as many minutes.  Fortunately the Lions came to realise that keeping the ball away from the Malmesbury team’s backs would win them the game and, thanks largely to a magnificent individual performance by flyhalf Jaco Oosthuizen (two tries, four conversions and a penalty), they overturned a 7-24 half-time deficit to win with a bit to spare.

SACS made full use of the fact that Tygerberg’s cupboard is not particularly well stocked this year to shake off the winter holiday cobwebs and win handsomely despite the absence of several 1st XV regulars.  Captain Jordan Thomas was dominant in the forward exchanges, while all but one of the tries were scored by the fast men, whose poor choice of scoring positions meant that pivot Nicholas Haasbroek could only contribute three conversions.

There was some concern that Durbanville, so devastating in their recent local outings, might run into some sort of wall fielding a team without half its regulars.  They needn’t have worried; Muir capitulated with increasing timidity, shipping fifty points in the second half alone.  One can only wonder what might have befallen the Uitenhage outfit had the Cape Schools Festival taken place on their fields in June, as was scheduled until its cancellation.

Missing both their props, who were on provincial duty, Swartland wilted under the onslaught of a physically much larger Stonyhurst side, who led 19-10 at the change-over.  From that point on, there was realistically only one side in the game, although local left wing Jay-Cee Kotze did well to dot down twice to take his tally for 2019 into double figures.

Saturday: Results

Brackenfell 53-0  Gill College
Bellville 31-17  Muir College
DF Malan 26-5  Vredenburg
HTS Bellville 26-17  Robertson
Strand 36-0  Cheadle Hulme (England)
Tygerberg 5-22  Stonyhurst (England)
Swartland 29-15  Labori
Durbanville 31-5  Schoonspruit

The first game provided arguably the biggest shock of the festival, with Brackenfell, who could only boast a solitary victory this far into the season, taking enough of a liking to the sub-zero (well, it felt like it) conditions to run in nine sparkling tries without reply against a battered and injury-stricken Gill College side.  Leftwing Arno Wolfaardt dotted down twice, while lock and Man of the Match Breandan Mellin got the scoreboard moving early in the piece.

Bellville’s fairly narrow win over Muir College assumed added significance when it gave pundits a chance to compare the winners’ victory to that of Durbanville, who host the Lions this Saturday, who trounced the Uitenhage side 81-12 on Thursday.  The brightest aspects for the northern suburbs side were the performances of flyhalf Jaco Oosthuizen, now second top points scorer in the province, and left wing Ivano Jonkers, whose two five-pointers saw him move into second place behind Gym’s Stravino Jacobs in the try-scoring charts.

DF Malan continued their belated return to form with a workmanlike win over a Vredenburg side who were worth more than just left wing Malcolm Swartz’s try.  While several of the tries were scored by the usual DF suspects, it was gratifying to see flank Guillaume Swanepoel notching his third touchdown in just two outings.

Just behind the Brackenfell result as far as eye-openers went came relegated HTS Bellville’s remarkable win over in-form Robertson, only the second defeat of the latter's season.  Three tries by no.8 and Man of the Match Kyle Arendse may have been the apparent reason for the win, but the team performance as a whole was particularly satisfying for long-term coach Ezzo van Wyk.

The fact that Strand managed to retain their composure in the face of a thoroughly unpleasant Cheadle Hulme touring side spoke volumes for the self-control instilled in them by their affable coaching staff.  The whole team battled through to ensure a comfortable winning margin, the main contributions coming from inside centre Tumelo Moremi and flank Lian Carpenter, who each score twice.  The tourists now head for Alberton, where, one suspects, their provocative tactics might not be quite as politely tolerated.

Tygerberg had to face the early rain as well as the large, well-drilled Stonyhurst team who had dismissed hosts Swartland so effectively on Thursday.  They gave good enough account of themselves, but had no answer to the English side’s wide play, which eventually wore them down.

Swartland spluttered and misfired before finally hitting something approaching decent form against a game Labori side in a match in which the wind and accompanying rain rendered any sort of flowing rugby virtually impossible.  As it turned out, the difference between the teams boiled down to an intercept try by inside centre Louis de Jager and a trademark touchline dash by left wing Jay-Cee Kotze.  Flyhalf Draigh Schierhout’s nine points also helped.

Concerns that Schoonspruit collapse in the face of a merciless Durbanville side proved generally unfounded as Vos de Jager’s troops put in a creditable sixty minutes, which included the try of the match - if not the festival - when flank Shaun Pietersen caught his own side’s restart after a Durbeez try, sliced through a hesitant defence and dotted down untouched.  That, however, was never going to be enough to cause the third upset of the day, but it did give the Schoonies supporters something to cheer about.

The organization - and Hein's braaiing - was up to the usual high standard of the Malmesbury hosts, with tireless sports organizer Bertie Gerber having to juggle his festival duties with those of managing the 1st XV in the absence on provincial duty of Martin “Junior” Dyason.

Another holiday, another festival: a rest would be a nice, but it’s back to the grindstone for the last seven weeks of the season, starting on Wednesday.

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