Bishops shine, then get sloppy

Bishops smashed SACS 43-18 on Saturday after leading 33-10 at the break.

But winning coach Dave Mallett wasn’t that impressed with the style of rugby his boys dished up in the second half. At times Bishops played some breathtaking rugby which enthralled their spectators, but then spoilt things somewhat by adopting a touch-rugby element to their play which saw the game lose any semblance of structure during the final 20 minutes.

It suited SACS who, as was the case in last week’s 33-0 hiding at the hands of Tygerberg, were able to produce some attractive running rugby which netted a set of tries in each half. But clearly the visitors arrived here with only one thing in mind: to limit the defeat to as few points as possible. Why else, when trailing by a country mile, would they opt to take shots at goal on two occasions when they had the hosts under pressure?

Be that as it may, SACS, who haven’t won a WP Premier A League match all season, will have won some pride back by making a fist of it when a well-beaten XV. Credit must go to a Bishops XV for some mesmerising moments of play highlighted by great hands, off-loads in the tackle and angled running between backs and forwards culminating in a number of tries.

There were some big performances from several of the home players, most notably lock Cameron Doyle, who used his 103kg fame to good effect in carrying the ball forward in open play and gained many yards barging his way over the advantage line to give his side plenty of attacking options. Then there was Western Province Craven Week front-ranker Tshepo Motale and openside flanker Tarqiun Carlsson creating havoc with big hits and their ball-carrying skills instrumental in opening up the visitors defensive lines during a first-half that saw Bishops in rampant form as they ran in five tries.

Bishops, after softening up their rivals in the opening 15 minutes, nailed down their first try when Motale used his powerful frame to burst over the line from close range after some sustained phase play. Fullback Tim Swiel slotted the conversion before converting again three minutes later after a fine line break from flyhalf Dillyn Leyds set up left wing Uwe Jacobs for the easiest of finishes.

SACS then scored against the run of play when fullback Christian Ewald was on hand to round off a break set in motion by a fine break downfield by substitute back Ryan van Rensburg, who converted to make it 14-7. Bishops got their third five-pointer in the 26th minute through Nathan Nel, the outside centre completing a fine break before embarking on a 60m solo run downfield to score under the posts.

The remaining 10 minutes saw Bishops produce fine inter-play between backs and forwards, met with little resistance from a disorganised SACS side left to chase shadows as the home side added two further tries scored by Swiel, one converted by him to give his side a huge 23-point lead at the break. SACS, to the surprise of everyone, took three points (landed by Van Rensburg) during those rampaging plays from Bishops, when a tilt at a try during a rare attack into enemy territory – instead of a kick at poles – would have been the logical response.

The second half produced some pleasing moments but too many times Bishops went the touch-rugby route with the glut of possession at their disposal. They scored two more tries in five minutes in the first 15 minutes through Doyle and Jacobs then seemed to run out of ideas. SACS, to their credit, fought back tenaciously and produced some telling runs through their backs, leaving one wandering as to why they waited so long to show what they can be capable of when showing a positive attitude. It did produce a second try for Ewald before another ridiculous was taken to kick at goal (missed) when trailing 43-18.

Mallett wasn’t mincing his words after the game.

‘We played airy fairy rugby at times,’ he said. ‘That’s not the way we coach the boys. I was disappointed with the performance and the boys know that they let themselves down. If we want to be considered a top XV in the country, we have to improve on the way we utilise the ball at our disposal.’

By Mike de Bruyn