Bishops will look to make it a first-round clean sweep over their traditional rivals when they make the short trip to Rondebosch on Saturday.
And they shouldn’t have any problems in this Western Province U19A clash against a side that has had mixed fortunes but can never be discounted due to their never-say-die attitude.
Bishops may be on a bit of a downer after last weekend’s 34-32 loss away to unbeaten Paarl Gymnasium, a game they could so easily have won had they not dropped their defensive guard and focus in the middle stages of the second half after building what looked to be a commanding 19-12 lead. Two tries conceded in two minutes put paid to the visitors recording their first win on the road to Gym in 19 years.
Now out of the running to be crowned the No 1 Cape school this season, Bishops can secure second-best status provided they remain unbeaten for the second half of the season. Their only other league defeat was a narrow 15-13 loss to Boland Landbou, but gutsy wins were achieved against Paul Roos and Paarl Boys.
In their neck of the woods, Bishops have seen off SACS (46-17) and Wynberg (38-20). But these victories could have been a lot more convincing had they played flat out for the full 70 minutes. Against a Rondebosch side, any foot off the pedal may lead to their downfall.
Bosch like nothing better than to put one over their chief rivals, and will not have forgotten last year’s season-ending defeat when denied victory in the final moments as a result of a high tackle committed to prevent a certain try. And while this year’s crop of players haven’t exactly set the world on fire, the passion and self-belief embedded in them could see them rise to the occasion in front of their home supporters.
‘It should be a close game,’ said outgoing Bosch coach Shaun Friedenthal. ‘Bishops are a good side this year, but if my players believe they can win it, then I believe they have a fair chance to pull off an upset. Last weekend’s [20-8] victory over Wynberg is evidence of this when you consider it was our first against them at home for some time.’
Bosch’s chances have been boosted with the return of three key players back from long-term injuries, No 8 Rayn Smit (shoulder op), loosehead Joel Carew (broken bone in hand) and Grade 11 flyhalf William Keet (off for a year).
‘Smit brings a lot of pace to our attack play from broken play situations being the third fasted sprinter in the school and is a deserving Western Province Craven Week cap, while Carew’s experience in the front row gives us a solid foundation and Keet gets the chance to gain experience for next season,’ Friedenthal added.
This will be Friedenthal’s final game in charge of the Ist XV before taking up the headmaster position at the Western Cape Sport School.
Bishops coach Dave Mallett is expecting a tough fight in the forwards department.
‘I expect nothing less from a team with a big effective pack,’ he said. ‘If we don’t front up to them in this department, it could be a long afternoon for the boys. But this being a derby and a fixture the boys always look forward to, makes for an interesting clash between to sides that play a different style of rugby; them keeping it tight in the forwards and us spreading it wide.’
By Mike de Bruyn (Cape Argus)