St Andrew’s should extend their 15-year winning streak against Kingswood when the teams meet in the Grahamstown derby on Saturday.
Kingswood have had a mixed bag of results this season, having lost to lesser opposition before claiming good victories over Port Rex and Stirling.
‘Our preparation for this game has been satisfactory,’ Kingswood head coach Graham Carlson told keo.co.za. ‘It’s been the same as always, as we don’t want to build the contest up too much. Last season we came within a whisker of grabbing a win, losing 8-6.’
St Andrew’s, on the other hand, have had a very good season, with coach Stefan Louwrens having moulded them into a well-oiled unit. However, last weekend’s second-half capitulation against Selborne – that saw them squander a 20-0 lead to lose 28-25 – will be fresh in the minds of the Saints players. Louwrens will have worked hard on sorting out his forwards, who were mauled by Selborne.
St Andrew’s winger James Price will once again be instrumental to the home side’s success. Price had a slight niggle in the week but Louwrens confirmed to keo.co.za that, ‘James will start and will be firing on all cylinders. The boys are confident for the weekend and are eager to get back to winning ways. We were guilty last weekend of defending our lead after playing some sublime rugby in the first half. We have learnt from that and will play for the full 70 minutes this time.’
The key match-up comes in the midfield where Kingswood centres John Hale and Libohonga Ndlazi will be looking to snuff out Saints’ Grant Prior. Saints flank James Gotz has also had an exceptional season, in particular with his work on the ground.
In the Western Cape, there are two gigantic derby games this weekend.
Bishops host Rondebosch with the latter having last won this encounter in 2004. The home side will start the game as overwhelming favourites, with Bosch missing three influential players in lock Rein Smit, prop Joel Carew and right winger Justin Fillies, who have WP Academy commitments. Bishops also have a few headaches of their own with pivot Sam Lane and No 8 Nizaam Carr both doubtful starters. Dave Mallett’s side recently thumped Brackenfell (58-7) while Bosch lost their last game to Wynberg (13-0).
Bishops won both encounters against Bosch last season (20-8 and 47-15) and the latter will have to play an extraordinary game to inflict a defeat on their bitter rivals. Bosch will look to nullify the attacking prowess of Bishops fullback Paul Cohen who has been impressive this year. The home side will be looking to play an expansive game while the visitors will be more structured in their approach.
In the other televised Cape derby, SACS host Wynberg. Wynberg suffered a humiliating 47-5 defeat in their final game last season, but another SACS victory is unlikely as the visitors have been in superb form this year.
Wynberg hooker Nic Mitchell could be the catalyst among the pack, while forceful winger Ndiki Zingisi will look to continue his rampant form that has earned him a place in the WP Craven Week side. A close encounter is expected but Wynberg should win based on recent form.
In other games around the country, Paarl Boys’ host Paul Roos with both sides in outstanding form. The conditions will suit Boys’ High as the game will be played in Paarl on a narrow field, thus negating the dangerous Stellenbosch backs. WP Craven Week fullback Craig Barry is the man that Boys’ High will have to mark closely, considering his electric pace and running lines from the back.
In Gauteng, St Stithians host KES. The visitors have only lost one game all season, to Pretoria Boys’ (11-13). Saints have also shown great promise this year, defeating St Johns 27-16 last weekend.
In KwaZulu-Natal, there are two massive fixtures. Westville travel to Glenwood while Kearsney host a struggling Maritzburg College.
By Gareth Wright