For Many Teams It's The Last Chance Saloon

Thu, 15/08/2013 - 15:09
  • Western Province Rugby

Saturday 17 August marks the end of the 2013 season for many of the teams in the Western Cape, with the exception of the WP Premier A and B sides, a few Boland stalwarts and the various “qualifiers” (for want of a more colourful term) for the latter stages of the Burger Trophy.

Teams the length and breadth of the province will be psyched up to their eyebrows for the much-anticipated Interschools clashes that signal the end of winter with a bang, not a whimper.

That said, the main attractions in a chock-full programme are not local derbies.

On a big weekend, the most enticing prospects are definitely the visits of Paarl Boys’ High to HTS Drostdy and Grey College to Paul Roos.

Last year Boishaai crushed the Donkeys 61-18 in Paarl, a result that will no doubt still rankle with the Worcester side.

Since then plenty of water has flowed under the brug, carrying with it all manner of interesting developments on the Boishaai front. The second and first teams became blurred to such an extent that even the Craven Week selectors who were not attached to the school could be excused for their confusion.

Try as they might to persuade you otherwise, even the most one-eyed supporters, hell-bent on damage control, will concede that, on the grounds of losing the Interschools finale (again), their half of Paarl had a bad year.

Very few names will ultimately be remembered for their contributions this year. Thomas du Toit, Danté van der Merwe and Daniel du Plessis are the only real stand-out performers in the 2013 vintage.

Despite a pretty promising start the Donkeys haven’t had a season worth remembering either. Hanro Liebenberg held the flag high while Farrel Kelly, Jurie Fick and Selvyn White all lent a hand on regular occasions.

Well, who’s going to win? The answer in this case tends to lie with the venue: Trappespark, the graveyard of numerous WP teams, most recently the Paarl Gym side of 2012 and yet Wynberg pitched up there a few weeks back, trailed at the break and went on to thump their hosts.

So, it can be done. The interest might well be whetted further by the home side’s indifferent form, but at least the Donkeys still have to travel to Paarl Gym next Saturday for Boishaai, this is the end.

So, do the Blue-and-Whites have the energy to pick themselves up for a nothing game which comes too late to restore their damaged pride?

If you’re only as good as your last game, then Paul Roos have every reason to be feeling nervous about Grey College’s visit..

Two weeks have passed since they bounced around on the sea bed after losing at home to an Oakdale side, whom, it must be said, is criminally underrated.

It’s impossible to predict their line-up for the game as logic has hardly been evident in this regard this campaign. A lot may depend on the place-kicking of Joel Heugh (or Aidynn Cupido or Reinhard Fortuin or Chris Smit, take your pick) as they average a mere two tries a game, just about as abysmal a return as the Sharks in the Super 15.

Grey College might have enjoyed a year that falls short of their exceptionally high standards, but their ability to fight back from seemingly disastrous positions is legendary.

Odd as it may seem, the outcome of this match could well depend on how well each side copes with the absence of their respective, outstandingly talented SA Schools players: full-back EW Viljoen for Grey and silent assassin Daniel du Plessis at centre for the hosts.

Negative reasoning being used to determine one of the most anticipated games of the season? Now that’s something new!

The biggest of the derbies might be just that, but for the wrong reason.

For luckless Boland Landbou, September cannot come too soon.

An [a] high-profile derby match [b] against Oakdale [c] in Riverdale [d] after their injury-ridden season [e] without talismanic points machine Tian Nel [who is out injured], [f] bearing in mind the drama of last year’s meeting at the Farm? Well, there are six reasons why the Windmeul Warriors are going to have to call on all their reserves of strength.

Oakdale, on the other hand couldn’t have asked for a better run into this clash. Two weeks ago they disposed of Paul Roos on the Markotter and last Friday they had things all their own way against a rather unimaginative Framesby side.

The only question marks that might nag at coaches Malan du Plessis and Tommy Dixon would be their side’s inability to drive home their advantage against their Eastern Cape visitors, often through very ordinary handling and a tendency to creep offside at set-pieces.

The pick of the Boland fare appears to be the Swartland-Hugenote face-off in Malmesbury.

The hosts have been generally off the boil this season but showed plenty of character in their recent 25-22 away win over Tygerberg, with no. 8 Josef Burger in outstanding form. One worry will however have been the indifferent kicking performance in the Parow game of tee-man Caleb Louw.

Another one will be the confidence oozing out of the pores of every member of the Blackie's flagship team following their powerful display in taking the Wellington derby against Boland Landbou 22-14 last Wednesday.

The attacking options provided by exciting full-back Raylinn Philander are likely to provide the Rockies with more than enough to think about.

Next week sees the Burger Trophy reach the regional play-off stage, with Ashton Secondary meeting Excelsior (Small Schools) and Hermanus taking on Milnerton (Medium Schools) on Tuesday 20 August as they bid to meet the SWD/EP qualifiers in the Finals at Paarl Gym on Saturday 31 August.

At the time of writing, the venue, expected to be a neutral one somewhere in the Boland, had yet to be announced. Check the Fixtures section for an update later.

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