Paarl Gym pulled off an expectant 49-15 win but had to work hard for it in the face of stern resistance from a committed second-half performance from hosts SACS.
Gym, who steamrolled Wynberg last weekend with a 15-try 101-0 win, looked tired in the second-half after building up an impressive 35-0 lead at half-time.
Gym coach Christoff Lotter, although happy with the end result, put it down to his players having to compete at WP Craven Week trials during the last couple of weeks.
‘The majority of the team have been attending trials a couple of times during midweek, which left me with only one day to prepare for this game and the past few,’ he said. ‘But I want to commend SACS for a spirited comeback; they played with much better cohesion in the second period.’
Losing coach Rian van der Westhuizen was disappointed and happy at the same time.
‘We made so many silly errors in the first half but came back strongly to outscore them 15-14 in the second period. Our tactics early on to run the ball from broken play was never going to bear fruition against a quality side like Gym. But we used our possession a lot smarter in the second 35 minutes and bagged a couple of good tries. It’s something we can work off for the remainder of the season.’
Gym’s three-match unbeaten raid on the southern suburbs of Cape Town has netted a total 30 tries and 209 points to 21 points against in a master-class performance of 15-man rugby. The comaradie between players and coaching staff is something to behold from a school with such a proud rugby tradition. There are no individual stars, says Lotter, but there are many in the current No 2 ranked team in the country behind perennial leaders Grey Bloem.
In inside centre Kobus van Wyk they have a tremendous talent, a powerfully-built battering ram who scores tries at will from far out and from close range, his six tries in his last two starts testimony to his outstanding talent. Then again, there are nine players who have made it through to final WP Craven Week trials.
Saturday saw the backs help themselves to another five tries and the well-drilled pack deservedly got two. Gym opened their account in the fourth minute with Van Wyk running all of 50m with an inward swerve to outpace a number of defenders after SACS’ flyhalf Matthew Möhle had delivered a relieving kick straight down the throats of the visitors. Willie Viljoen had his kicking boots on as he slotted the conversion and the next six to follow.
With SACS seemingly suffering from stage fright, Gym needed no second invitation as they pounced on any little mistake in a rampant first-half showing.
The second five-pointer came about after the halfbacks of SACS contrived to spill the ball on near their line and Gym right winger Conrad Loubser cut inside to finish off a regulation backline move. Two of the next three tries were the result of poor handling from the hosts and a heel-against-the-head, to put Gym in a commanding 35-0 lead at half-time.
SACS came out fighting for the final 35 minutes and made the most of their territorial advantage for those first 10 minutes and got some reward when Möhle landed a penalty in front of goals.
It seemed to spur the home side on as they held onto possession through the phases and used the boot intelligently, which seemed to knock the wind out of the tiring visitors. But Gym nearly scored from their first attack into enemy territory but a timely interception from SACS flanker and captain Godfrey Tundube on his line saw him run all of 70m before being brought down from behind. The ball was quickly recycled from the breakdown and Jordan Morris brought the small crowd to its feet as he collected and scored untouched, Möhle adding the extra two points to cut back the deficit to 10-35 with 20 minutes to play.
Then an ugly moment in the game surfaced when SACS’ lock Sebastian Zanasi was red-carded for kicking Gym prop Mynhardt Kitshoff in the face on the ground. Two minutes later SACS paid for it as flanker Gideon Morris crossed for try six.
The visitors increased their lead to 49-10 following Van Wyk’s third try before SACS hit back through a try in the final play by left winger Nicholas van der Westhuizen to bring some respectability to the scoreline.
By Mike de Bruyn (Weekend Argus)