Bishops in cruise control

Bishops made it a season double over hosts Wynberg with an easy 45-21 win on Saturday.

Bishops, who suffered a 6-5 defeat to Tygerberg last weekend, played breathtaking rugby at times but too often undid the good work by sitting back on their advantage. Yes, they did score seven tries to three, but it should have been a few more had they played at full throttle. At the start of each half, they sat back and watched play unfold in front of them which saw the home side take advantage and run with hope and purpose in search of an upset win, but they lacked the skills needed from a couple of game-breakers to seize the upper hand.

Bishops were also often guilty of silly handling errors on attack, but overall, it was a satisfying victory and one that keeps alive hopes of making it a full house of wins over their traditional southern suburbs rivals (they need to make it back-to-back wins over SACS and Rondebosch in the final two games of the season to achieve the rare feat).

Wynberg can feel proud of their efforts in the face of superior opponents. They showed a never-say-die attitude and willingness to run the ball at every occasion, winning back lost pride after that 101-0 drubbing at the hands of Paarl Gymnasium.

After a solid opening from the hosts in the opening 10 minutes which saw them claim a 3-0 lead via a penalty goal from the boot of scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck, Bishops woke up and began to string some promising passages of phase play together before prop Tshepo Motale, from a free kick, bullied his way over from close range for the try. Tim Swiel, who had an off-day with the boot last weekend, made no mistake with the conversion to put his side 7-3 ahead in the ninth minute.

Wynberg were still enjoying the advantage in the territory and possession stakes but seemed unable to break through against a committed defensive effort from the visitors, their only reward another three-pointer from Frylinck.

Bishops began to take control of the contest in the final 15 minutes of the first period and in the 23rd minute, after some sustained pressure forced a turnover in their favour, right wing Liam Peterson showed great pace and skill to outwit a defender to score in his corner, with Swiel slotting the extra two points to make it 14-6. Bishops claimed a third five-pointer just before the break with inside centre Paul Kuiper on hand to round off a polished backline move.

Wynberg began the second 35 minutes in the same manner they began the first half but had to wait 11 minutes to convert pressure into points with flanker Josh Katzen going over for the unconverted try.

The game then opened up with both sides giving the ball air among the forwards and backs. But it was the superior play of the Bishops boys that shone through as they proceeded to score four wonderful tries. Swiel converted his try and then converted scrumhalf Guy Whitfield’s effort to increase the lead to 33-11.

Wynberg grabbed their second try through Western Province and SA Schools U18 cap Sikumbuso Notshe, with the flanker impressing as a second-half substitution. Bishops made it 40-16 with a try going the way of outside centre Nathan Nel before the hosts added some respectability to the scoreline with a try from fullback Dylan Sage. Bishops then had the final say as they netted their seventh five-pointer in the closing seconds scored by hooker Willem Gresse.

However, winning coach Dave Mallett said this wasn’t his side’s best performance.

‘We let in some soft tries by way of slipping tackles and being a little complacent when leading by a decent margin,’ he said. ‘But don’t get me wrong, we scored some great tries … we just need to stay focused throughout and not let our intensity levels slacken off when we think we have the game won.’

His counterpart, Gus Posthumus, said he was disappointed with the defensive effort but happy with the attacking play.

‘We let slip tackles rather easily and put ourselves under pressure throughout the game,’ he said. ‘But Bishops came here to play open rugby and succeeded with a good performance.’

By Mike de Bruyn