GARETH DUNCAN picks the Glenwood-Maritzburg College duel as the Schoolboy Derby feature match of the weekend.
This fixture is one of the highlights on the KZN schoolboy calendar. And considering the over-age saga that has shocked the province, the region will need this exciting clash to spark some positivity through this period of shame.
Both schools have been inconsistent in recent weeks, especially with defeats to in-form Kearsney. But both KZN powers are confident of bouncing back in this 91-year-old rivalry.
Maritzburg College have surprisingly won 109 of the 158 matches played to date. However, Glenwood have dominated in recent years, although they have only triumphed on 34 occasions. There have been 15 draws too.
The Green Machine, who have won 10 of their 16 matches this year, are confident that they can record their 35th derby win on their home ground.
‘We’ve got really exciting backs and then there’s an experienced pack of forwards,’ Glenwood 1st XV coach Sean Erasmus told Schoolboy Derby. ‘From our side, it’s going to have to be a big team effort. We just want to make sure that everybody within the team and their positions do their jobs well, like we did against DHS [Glenwood thrashed DHS 34-9 a fortnight ago].
‘That win proved that we have the capacity, the leadership and the ability to play really well.’
Six Glenwood players were selected for this year’s KZN U18 Craven Week squad. Erasmus said this will encourage his troops to perform strongly against a Maritzburg College outfit that has three provincial representatives.
‘It’s always nice for a player to be rewarded,’ he said. ‘We are disappointed that one or two players, especially somebody like [wing] Dylan Coulsen, didn’t get Craven Week selection. But for those who did, we are very proud of them. It takes a good team effort for those players to play well individually. I’m sure they will be coming out to prove a point on Saturday.’
Glenwood are experiencing a few disruptions this week. They are sweating on two key players in fullback Unathi Makasi and flank Carel Swart, who are struggling with injury. Both are unlikely to feature against Maritzburg College. The team also had to deal with a controversial off-field matter as they lost skipper and SA Schools wing Siyabonga Tom, who was expelled for being exposed as one of the eight over-age KZN schoolboys.
‘It was disappointing for us,’ said Erasmus. ‘I needed to keep the team updated on what was happening and what the situation was, then just getting them back on track again. I don’t feel we have the right to judge Siyabonga. We think he knows what he has done wrong or what has been done wrong. He’s dealing with that in his own capacity.
‘Prop Marné Coetzee has taken over the leadership.’
Meanwhile, Maritzburg College have been working hard on their set piece and defensive structures following an erratic performance during their 30-10 defeat to Kearsney last weekend. They have now suffered five defeats in their 12 fixtures this year.
‘We lost a lot of our lineout ball and we were guilty of some soft tackles, which we slipped. We made three mistakes against Kearsney and conceded three tries. We want to cut those things out of our game,’ said 1st XV head coach Ryan Strudwick. ‘Glenwood are a very strong side. They’ve also had a few mixed results, but they are still top of the pops in the KZN area. We have our work cut out for us, and playing them away from home is never easy.’
Strudwick added that the set-piece battles and defence will be the telling factors between the two teams on the park.
‘The set piece will be very key, especially for us. We need to get some good ball for our backs. We also need a strong defensive effort,’ he said. ‘Our hooker needs to front up after a poor throwing performance last weekend. Our whole front row, to be fair, will have to step up against their massive tight forwards.
‘The breakdown will also be key. They have some big running loose forwards, so our loosies will have to do their jobs well.’
There will be a second match between these two teams on 4 August at Maritzburg College.