The enormous interest generated by this fixture ensured a huge crowd despite the weather
Despite the determined efforts of the elements - constant rain and a strong wind - to thwart their efforts, Paarl Gym and Outeniqua still managed to turn on a pulsating display of great schoolboy rugby, sharing the honours in a 17-17 draw at Gym’s Kriel Field on Saturday, 21 July.
The hosts started brightly with fine work by No.8 Rikus Bothma and scrumhalf Lotter Pretorius presenting inside centre Altus Momsen with the opportunity to dive over midway out after just four minutes. 5-0.
Shortly afterwards Quagga centre Warrick Galant opened his side’s scoring with a relatively straightforward penalty.
Things rapidly went pear-shaped for the hosts over the next ten minutes. Not only did they lose fullback Dawie Dyason (hamstring) and flank Jacques Vermeulen (right shoulder) to injuries, but they also conceded a surreal seven-pointer.
Flyhalf Wyatt Murphy contrived to drop - not pass - the ball into the hands of grateful opposite number Dewald Human who sprinted forty metres to dot down untouched. Galant’s conversion put the visitors up 10-5.
Murphy, however, went a long way to redeeming himself when he slotted a neat drop goal midway through the half. (Gym 8 Outeniqua 10.)
The visitors were making far better use of the slippery ball and only desperate cover defence prevented left wing Duhan van der Merwe from stretching their lead, although the move did lead directly to his team’s last score.
The Quaggas employed a well-rehearsed - and apparently equally widely known - move from the resulting five metre line-out, which Gym promptly terminated by collapsing the maul. Referee Joey Salmans had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, which Galant converted to give his team a 17-8 cushion eleven minutes before the break.
Murphy did not return to the field after the break, his place being taken by HP Momsen, twin brother of Altus. With the elements at their backs and hooker Evan 'Skillie' McDonald hooking his second tighthead, Gym started looking considerably more confident, narrowing the gap to 11-17 via an HP Momsen penalty in the seventh minute of the second period.
The locals continued ratcheting up the gears, almost scoring in the right-hand corner midway through the half, but had to be content with a second Momsen penalty. 14-17.
Such was the confidence coursing through the northern Paarl veins that right wing Grant Hermanus launched an audacious attempt at a huge drop goal, his effort flying just wide.
There were still twelve minutes on the clock when Momsen completed the Gym recovery with his third penalty, to make it 17-17, despite a Galant effort into the wind six minutes from the end.
The Quaggas won much respect through a committed performance, exemplified by the kamikaze efforts of tireless captain and No.8 Tinus Vermeulen. While the pack was under the whip for a large part of the match, the backline looked dangerous throughout, credit for which must be evenly shared between flyhalf Dewald Human and the mercurial Galant.
Gym’s pack largely made up, particularly in the latter stages, for the hesitancy shown by their backline early on. The front row was particularly effective in giving their opponents a torrid time, loosehead Ollie Regue catching the eye on several occasions, but the man of the match display was delivered by brilliant No.8 Rikus Bothma. Just as HP Momsen added stability to the home three-quarters, so twin brother Altus did his level best to destroy it among the Quaggas backs with his devastating tackling.
One can only hope that the slew of injuries, niggling and otherwise, incurred by Gym does not seriously hamper their preparations for Interschools, which is just two weeks away.
The enormous interest generated by this fixture ensured a huge crowd despite the weather. They would have gone home feeling suitably warm on the inside, if a little chilly on the outside!
By Tony Stoops