A beautiful clear sky and a slightly less intimidating temperature greeted players and spectators to the second day of the Swartland Winter Festival in Malmesbury on Saturday, 14 July.
A long day - the programme took eleven hours to run its course - provided plenty of excitement, one or two big wins and a couple of unexpected results.
Strand (5) 39 Royal Academy, Belfast (0) 0
The first big game of the day started with the Irish side on the attack, peppering the Strand defences for the first ten minutes, but to no avail.
The Strandlopers responded in their hallmark open style, with fullback Riaan Holtzhauzen rounding off a swift attacking move in the 17th minute for what proved to be the only points of the first half.
Thereafter the visitors tired visibly as the game progressed, not that the local side needed any assistance in turning on the charm. As early as the opening minute of the second half only an unfortunate bounce from a pinpoint box-kick by livewire scrumhalf Marshall Daars prevented them registering their second try.
The floodgates did eventually open twelve minutes in when classy centre Quiwen Bauman deftly slipped a tackle to notch the first of his three tries. Seven minutes later he was on the end of an exquisite pass to add a further five points. Centre Deon Taljaard added the conversion, which with a penalty in between Bauman’s efforts, made it 20-0.
Next in on the act was replacement flyhalf Lorenzo Appollis, who took a pass on the loop-round to make the score 25-0 before the last five minutes yielded two very simple tries as the Strand side seemed to breach the Ulster defence almost at will. Taljaard scythed through as did Bauman (again) just on full-time, the former converting both to round the scoring off at 39-0.
The two performances of this Strand side and those of Stellenberg later in the day and Tygerberg on Thursday all serve as encouraging indications of the healthy state of rugby in Western Province Premier B league.
Charlie Hofmeyr (26) 31 Despatch (7) 12
Ceres’s finest turned in a very workmanlike display to outgun their Eastern Cape opponents.
Almost from the opening whistle Boland Academy Week flank Carl Stassen breached the Despatch defence to touch down. Flyhalf Darchen Erasmus’s conversion put the Charlies 7-0 up.
The rest of the half belonged to outside centre Damian Vermeulen, who reveled in the lovely, clean ball he was receiving to run in a true hat-trick of tries - none of the other Charlie players scored between them - one of which was converted by Erasmus, another by his replacement JC Vergotine. Before the last of these Despatch flyhalf JC Alberts put his team on the board with a try converted by captain and No.8 JC Crouse. (26-7)
As was the case against Augsburg the visiting team seemed to gel better after the break, only conceding one try relatively early on to speedy right wing Jaco Koegelenberg. Despite battering the Eastern Cape line for most of the half the Fruit Farmers couldn’t add to their score and it was left to sturdy prop Sampie Geyser to take Koenie Strumpher’s youngsters into double figures with a fine barging run. (31-12)
Augsburg Gym (6) 6 HTS Drostdy (5) 11
This result was a travesty of justice, if ever there was one, as the Clanwilliam team played a perfect tactical game against their larger opponents, swinging the ball wide at speed and avoiding tight confrontation.
In the end all they would have to show for it was two first-half penalties by fullback Kenneth 'Beaver' de Kock. In reply the Donkeys’ captain and eighthman Izak Burger dotted down his 15th try of 2012, which, added to two penalties by flyhalf Kelly Olivier, was enough to clinch it for the Worcester outfit.
By now everyone is well aware of Drostdy’s strengths and weaknesses and, even though they welcome back Craven Week forwards Wilco Louw (who received a well-merited SA squad call-up), Farrel Kelly and Hanro Liebenberg, they can expect stiff games against Rondebosch and SACS over the next fortnight.
Swartland (22) 48 Pate’s Grammar School (0) 0
As happened with the Belfast side earlier on, the lengthy break since their last game took its toll on the overseas visitors, who hail from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
The hosts eased into the game with a penalty by flyhalf Chemandré van Schalkwyk before hitting their straps midway through the first half.
Tighthead Estevan Janse van Rensburg notched the first try by running straight through two opponents who didn’t know better than to get between him and the line. Two minutes later outside centre Steven Burger snatched up a loose ball for try number two and captain and No.8 Josef Burger crashed over for the third just on half-time. Two van Schalkwyk conversions took the total to 22-0 at the break.
The second half brought a second wind for the tourists who held on gamely until the final ten minutes in which replacement prop Ray-Niel de Jager and Janse van Rensburg thundered over their tryline, a sublime pass from replacement flyhalf Vinnie Davids sent Steven Burger in from near the halfway line and fullback Callie Esbach exploited an overlap to dive over for try number seven. Three of the four were converted by Davids. Final score 48-0.
Stellenberg (5) 15 Bishops (5) 5
On Thursday Bishops enjoyed an overwhelming percentage of possession and struggled to register a draw. Yesterday’s opponents, Stellenberg, were not in such a generous mood and fully deserved their 15-5 victory over the Rondebosch team.
That said, it was Bishops who went on the attack at the outset, putting their opponents’ well-organised defence to the test and producing the first glimpses of the beautiful game for which this proud school is so famous.
It was fitting then that they opened the score when fullback Greg Alexander provided the extra man in a full backline move, diving over in the right-hand corner.
Stellenberg’s response was both immediate and clinically efficient in its execution, enterprising flyhalf Arnoldus Laubscher creating space for inside centre Malan Roode to dot down after a line-out five metres out. (5-5)
The second half saw both teams giving the ball plenty of air, moving play from one end of the field to the other, but falling victim to infringements in the loose.
The try that took the wind out of the southern suburbs boys some ten minutes from full time ironically came about as a result of typical exhilarating multi-phase build-up Bishops rugby by the Durbanville outfit. The result was that lock Ricardo Rose found himself fifteen metres out at first receiver with an open line beckoning!
Laubscher’s conversion plus a penalty five minutes later gave the Stellies a well-merited victory.
Tygerberg (0) 7 Royal Grammar School, Lancaster (5) 10
The Tygers’ decision to give some reserves game-time played a part in what, given the indifferent performances of the four touring teams earlier in the day, constituted something of a surprise result.
And yet, RGS’s triumph was earned the hard way by a side who effortlessly shrugged off four months of rugby inactivity. They played beautiful, open rugby with a distinctly South African flavour - bullocking forward drives setting up quick, clean second-phase possession - throughout a very entertaining game.
The only points of the opening period came from a try in the ninth minute by impressive second-row workhorse Marcus Mollinga.
A somewhat reinforced Tygers side found the going just as tough in the second half, although possession remained pretty even.
Just when it seemed that 5-0 would be the final score, left wing Shane Grundlingh followed a kick ahead to touch down in the left-hand corner four minutes from the end.
Great was the Tygers’ supporters vocal celebration when pivot Morné Kotze raised the flags from the touchline to give the Parow team the ascendancy at 7-5.
Ditto their shocked silence when outside centre Sam Moorby returned the compliment in the Tyger’s left-hand corner in the last move of a rousing game.
In other matches Piketberg beat HTS Drostdy seconds 28-17, Brackenfell destroyed Pate’s GS seconds 71-0 and Vredenburg pipped RGS, Lancaster seconds 28-22 in a mid-day thriller.
Congratulations are due to principal Dirk Marais, sports organiser Freek Stander and their fellow committee members on their slick presentation of an increasingly popular event, which went as far as a large-screen television in the clubhouse (which proved strangely popular at regular junctures during the day’s activities)!
By Tony Stoops