Paarl Boys are backing themselves to beat Grey College at home in what promises to be a battle of attrition.
The Western Cape school are currently ranked No 3 in the country and are on a roll with wins against Affies (13-8), Glenwood (11-9) and Outeniqua (22-17) in recent weeks giving their season some impetus. But 1st XV coach Elmo Wolfaard is giving the rankings little thought ahead of their clash with the No 1-ranked Grey Bloem this Saturday.
‘We’re not paying attention to the rankings, it’s too early for them to be a true reflection as the season ends in August,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘We’re focusing on one game at a time, and this weekend’s match will definitely be a mountain to climb.’
Wolfaard believes his side will have the edge in what is predicted to be wet conditions.
‘We play a forward driven game, and are more adept in wet conditions than Grey,’ he said. ‘I’m sure Grey will come out all guns blazing, and they have a tendency to throw the ball around. But in the wet, it may be to their disadvantage as the greasy ball isn’t conducive to flowing rugby.’
Paarl Boys will adopt a simple game plan against SA’s best.
‘We’ve got to be disciplined, on attack and defence, but even then a team of Grey’s calibre presents a problem,’ said Wolfaard. ‘The best solution is to secure as much ball as possible and work them out of the game. It’s a simple plan, but we have the pack to neutralise them.’
Clearly Paarl are expecting the boot to play a decisive role, but with flyhalf Gavin Hauptfleisch out for a minimum of two to three weeks with a side strain, question marks hang over Paarl Boys’ ability to compete. Not so, says Wolfaard.
‘Our kicking has been good this season, and Johan Cilliers [who's in for Hauptfleisch] adds another dimension to the team. He’s a first-rate flyhalf, and we’re lucky to have two players of such high standard in the mix. He’s accurate with the boot, but also brings a more attacking dynamic to the role, which will be crucial if we’re to finish off what are sure to be limited opportunities in the rain.’
However, Wolfaard is sure a Paarl win won’t be on the back of individual brilliance.
‘It will undoubtedly require a 15-man effort to overcome Grey. Our record isn’t great against them in recent years, but the gap between the two sides is closing. It will be close this Saturday.’
By Rory Keohane