Saturday’s Beeld Trophy semi-final between Monument and Nelspruit (11:15 kick-off) could be the defending champions’ sternest test so far.
The Beeld Trophy is, in effect, a ‘champions cup’, contested by the first and second placed schools in the leagues in the Lions, Pumas, Blue Bulls, Limpopo, Valke and Leopards provinces.
Monnas are the holders of the premier trophy in the competition – that for Macro Schools – and not all provinces enter sides at that level. A notable exception from the Blue Bulls league is Pretoria’s Affies, who choose to play friendlies only, as do all of the stronger English-medium schools in this part of the world.
Monument supporters will, however, point out that they beat Affies 42-38 earlier in the season, and that they also beat them in 2008, so Pretoria’s traditionally top school is not really missed here.
Saturday’s opponents, Nelspruit, have swept all opposition aside so far, including a 26-17 win over Centurion in the quarter-finals last weekend. Nelspruit had seven players in the Pumas Craven Week side earlier in the year, including four of their tight five. The Monument-studded Golden Lions team played that Pumas team on the final day of the Craven Week and beat them 28-11.
Monument battled in the scrums against Kempton Park in their quarter-final clash last weekend, and will have to sharpen up in this phase against a Nelspruit front row that averages out at 104kg per man.
Saturday’s other semi-final is between last year’s beaten finalists, Waterkloof, and Valke champions EG Jansen. Waterkloof beat Florida 31-28 in a thriller of a quarter-final, while EG Jansen beat Menlo Park 21-13.
The Beeld Trophy also has B, C and D divisions, called ‘big’, ‘medium’, and ‘small’ schools.
Waterkloof vs EG Jansen
Monument vs Nelspruit
Ben Vorster vs Transvalia
Helpmekaar vs Standerton
Pretoria-Noord vs Linden
Die Wilgers vs Nylstroom
Primrose vs Heilbron
Eric Louw vs Alberton High
By Gauteng correspondent