Maritzburg College will face an Affies team of a different kind when the teams meet on Goldstones at 13:15 on 21 July. The game will be televised on Supersport thanks to Megapro’s Premier Interschools sponsorship.
In this annual fixture Affies has often been associated with a big forward type domination style of rugby, which incorporates overwhelming their opponents in the scrums, at lineouts and at collision points. The juggernaut is usually directed by a very assertive scrumhalf who comes standard with a big base kick. No much fuss has been made of the Affies backline over the years though. This year, it’s not the same. Spearheaded by exciting running rugby flyhalf Ryno Eksteen who has the option to combine with quality centres Nico Lee and Jurie Linde, Affies are now a far better balanced team. They are capable of hurting rivals by going wide even without their forwards first doing the damage upfront. On the wings they have speed in the form of star athlete Andries van der Merwe and striker Marcus Kleinbooi. Scrumhalf Louis Venter might not be what one comes to expect from Affies either, as the livewire prefers to attack with the ball in hand rather than rely on his boot.
This is not to say that Affies won’t have their usual presence in the pack. Hardworking captain Pierre Schoeman is probably the highest rated prop in SBR at the moment. Other players to be on the lookout for are hooker Frans Steyn, lock Janse van Rensburg and flank Heinrich Viljoen, all of whom made the SA Schools trial squad. Desperately unlucky not to be in that squad but a standout player nonetheless is no.8 Steven Meiring.
For College, success in this game boils down to one thing. Possession! It has been a major obstacle in their path. Getting their hands on the ball has proven to be a problem in this annual fixture. Outmuscled in the scrums and unable to find targets in amongst the tall timber at lineout time have been the two main killers of any viable challenge they might otherwise have posed. A College team with ball is dangerous, especially when they move ball through the hands. So it is vital that they find a way to hold their own once the referee says, “Engage!” Equally important is that KZN Schools hooker Vuyo Khatide maintains a high degree of accuracy and understanding with his jumpers on throw-ins and that the team comes up with lineout designs that somehow outsmart their taller opponents.
Ball-carrying around the fringes is another area where the 2012 College team has fallen short at times. Getting over the advantage line in broken play still remains the best way to set a platform for backs to be fully effective. In the line strong centres Ricci Bamber and Marcel Coetzee should be a handful if they can get decent ball and on the wings in Bandele Ngwenya and Cyle Muil, College have ample speed. However without a doubt the main attraction for home fans will be fullback Jesse Kriel who has just completed a dream Craven Week in terms of his own individual performances with ratings if not then definitely close to being 10 out of 10’s. There will also be a big welcome back for Nicholas Muller. Sidelined for a good deal of the second term action, this openside flank has proven to be a significant contributor of attack and in defence when he was fit.
Affies arrive in Pietermaritzburg as one of the three best teams in the country, containing six SA Schools final squad candidates. They are the favourites to win (again). College is a school with 149 years of tradition behind them and a proud rugby history to go with it. They will come out fighting. They really don’t know any other way. As it’s often been said at and around the famous school ground, “there is no such thing as an easy game on Goldstones” and it’s unlikely this notion will change on Saturday.
Enjoy the game. Respect the ref. Adults lead by example.
|Njabula Gumede||1||Pierre Schoeman (C)|
|Vuyo Khatide||2||Francois Steyn|
|Mvelo Khumalo||3||WP Eloff|
|Rett Pieterse||4||Jean Droste|
|Robert Kamhoot||5||Nicolaas Janse Van Rensburg|
|Nicholas Muller||6||Albert Van Heerden|
|Cameron Christie||7||Heinrich Viljoen|
|Reegan Smith (C)||8||Steven Meiring|
|Josh Rencken||9||Louis Venter|
|Lukas Booysen||10||Ryno Eksteen|
|Banele Ngwenya||11||Andries Van Der Merwe|
|Richard Bamber||12||Nico Lee|
|Marcel Coetzee||13||Jurie Linde|
|Cyle Muil||14||Marcus Kleinbooi|
|Jesse Kriel||15||Constant Pretorius|
|Alex Cahill||16||Cornell De Waal|
|Seko Buthelezi||17||Xander Swart|
|James Smith||18||Gerhard De Beer|
|Jacques Conradie||19||Calvon Allison|
|Thato Molelekoa||20||Heine Lombaard|
|Murray Janse Van Rensburg||21||Marchant Van Den Heerver|
|Kelvin Elder||22||Thys Van Wyk|