Preview: Coastal derbies dominate
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 09:21
Two massive coastal derbies
Two massive coastal derbies will be the focus in the South Section of the Vodacom Cup as all eight games take place on Saturday.
First up at Kings Park in Durban, the Sharks XV host Western Province in a curtain-raiser to the Super Rugby clash later between the Sharks and the Reds.
Both these sides kicked off the Vodacom Cup with good wins last weekend as they aim to stamp their authority on the South Section.
The other big derby will take place in Grahamstown, where the EP Kings neighbours the Border Bulldogs will be looking for their first win of the season when they clash at Rhodes University’s Great Field.
In another match taken into the communities, the Boland Cavaliers host the Free State XV in Malmesbury.
The pick of the matches in the North Section is between last year’s runners-up, the Pumas, and three-time champions, the Blue Bulls, in Nelspruit.
The Mpumalangans started the season with a solid win, but the team from Pretoria came up short last weekend and will be desperate to get their first win of 2014.
The Griffons, who recorded the biggest victory of the opening round, travel to the Griquas in Kimberley, while the Falcons have approximately 20km to travel to Ellis Park, where they will face the defending champions, the Golden Lions.
Just like last week we have a look at two more emerging young players from the North and the South Sections who are making their way up the rugby ladder. This week we look at a speedy wing and a strong prop – Ruwellyn Isbell (Pumas) and Thomas du Toit (Sharks XV).
With speed to burn and a great swerve, winger Ruwellyn Isbell could be the Pumas’ go-to man in the coming weeks as the men from Mpumalanga look to build on their impressive start to the Vodacom Cup this year.
Isbell, who turned 21 in February, has been around for a while but only got his first taste of senior provincial rugby last weekend in Kempton Park.
He was born in Somerset East, where Isbell attended the famous Grey College in Bloemfontein, from where he made the Free State side to the Under-18 Craven Week in 2011.
Isbell and his Grey College team-mate Jan Serfontein were two of the Cheetahs’ stars at the Craven Week and the speedy winger even ran in a try in the final match.
Isbell was selected for the SA Schools team in 2011, but sadly missed out on representing his country against France that year because of an untimely injury.
A year later though, Isbell made his Springbok Sevens debut. He has three Sevens World Series tournaments under the belt – in 2012 in Gold Coast, Dubai and Port Elizabeth – and was one of the stars of the team who won the gold medal at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia.
At 1.78m tall and weighing in at just under 90kg, Isbell is just slightly smaller than Springbok wing Bryan Habana (1.80m and 94kg). Like Habana, he is also a very strong and balanced runner with ball in hand.
Our South Section star this week is the gigantic youngster, Thomas du Toit.
A former Western Province Craven Week and SA Schools prop, Thomas du Toit decided to head north to Durban at the end of last season and has been rewarded by making his senior provincial debut for the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup last weekend.
At 18, Du Toit is one of the youngest players to ever play in the Vodacom Cup – he was born on 5 May 1995, which is less than two months before Francois Pienaar famously lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at Ellis Park in 1995.
The Sharks had to get special clearance from SARU to be able to field Du Toit in senior competitions in line with the BokSmart requirements for young front rankers.
But even though the young prop is a big unit at 1.87m tall and over 120kg, he is very mobile and fast. In fact, Du Toit reminds one a lot of one of the stars of the 1995 Springbok side, loosehead prop Os du Randt.
And it was probably the similarities in size and mobility between Du Toit and Du Randt that saw the young prop make the KwaZulu-Natalians’ wider Super Rugby squad.
Du Toit went to Paarl Boys’ High School, a famous prop factory who produced the likes of Gurthrö Steenkamp and Frans Malherbe in recent years.
Last weekend in the Sharks XV’s Vodacom Cup opener against the Border Bulldogs in East London, Du Toit was sent on as a replacement shortly after the break – and he got his first try at senior level 14 minutes later.
He is eligible for the South African Under-20 team this year and in 2015 and looks set to make a big mark in Durban in the coming months, where he will no doubt learn heaps from the Sharks’ three Springbok props in Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis and Lourens Adriaanse.
Round 2 fixtures:
Saturday, 15 March
Golden Lions vs Falcons
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Christie du Preez
Griquas vs Griffons
Referee: Oregopotse Rametsi
Sharks XV vs Western Province
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
EP Kings vs Border Bulldogs
Venue: Great Field, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Referee: Pro Legoete
Pumas vs Blue Bulls
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Tahla Ntshakaza
Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Leopards XV
Venue: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Referee: Gerrie du Bruyn
Boland Cavaliers vs Free State XV
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Tusker Simba XV vs SWD Eagles
Venue: City Park, Cape Town
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
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