Tough task for Wynberg

Bishops will start as huge favourites to make it a season double over Wynberg when the two southern suburbs rivals lock horns on Saturday.

Bishops ooze class and, despite playing away, should win at a breeze. But they are a side susceptible to the occasional bouts of complacency when favoured to win. Coach Dave Mallett, however, has made it clear to his charges not to relax, and to play to instructions and at full throttle for the 70 minutes.

‘These are key ingredients when heading into derbies,’ said Mallett. ‘Wynberg may have had some tough outings this year, but when they play against us, they always come at us hard. In our first meeting, my boys weren’t playing to my instructions in the first half and it saw the scores level at 10-10 at the changeover. But we put things right in the second period and won pretty convincingly [39-20].

Mallett wasn’t spiting out excuses after last weekend’s 6-5 loss to Tygerberg, instead heaping high praise on the victors, who campaign a tier lower in Premier B.

‘Like us, they are the only other team to hold Gym to a few points. They came at us hard, and although we ended attacking hard, they defended admirably and deserved the win,’ said Mallett.

It’s just the kind of result that could give Wynberg a lift. After being crowned champion team amongst their three chief rivals in 2009, Wynberg are having a season they would care to forget in a hurry. That 101-0, 15-try whipping at the hands of Paarl Gymnasium will linger on forever in the minds of the players and coaching staff in what turned out to be the lowest point in the school’s proud rugby history. But coach Gerry Posthumus believes his team has come on a lot since then.

‘After the Gym game, the players have been working hard on defence and improvement has come about. During the recent holidays, we shifted focus to attack … now we have a chance to measure ourselves against a top side like Bishops.’

Wynberg’s only Premier A win to date came against SACS. Bishops are the only one of the four traditional rivals in with a chance of making it season doubles over their counterparts. They’ve comfortably won against SACS, Rondebosch and Wynberg but will know how tough it is to make it six wins in a row. The feat hasn’t been achieved for some time, but Bishops and Wynberg have come closest in the past few years. In 2008, Bishops, having won five in a row, had their hopes derailed by Wynberg before exacting revenge the following year under the same circumstances.

One forward from each side has represented the WP Craven Week team and been included in the 32-man SA U18 high-performance squad – Tshepo Motale (Bishops) plays tighthead and Sikumbuzo Notshe wears the No 8 jersey for Wynberg but was picked as a flank for SA Schools.

By Mike de Bruyn