GARETH DUNCAN previews the Schoolboy Derby feature match of the weekend between Maritzburg College and Affies.
Affies will travel to Pietermaritzburg this weekend, to take on College in a big encounter. The Pretoria school will be favourites as they have only suffered three defeats against the latter over the last 15 years.
Maritzburg College 1st XV head coach Ryan Strudwick admitted that they will be the underdogs heading into this clash.
‘We are under no illusions. We know Affies are a very strong team.’ Strudwick told keo.co.za’s Schoolboy Derby. ‘They’ve had a strong run this year and have picked up many good wins. We haven’t had much success against them and we’ve been inconsistent this season too. But we have prepared well and will have home-ground advantage, so hopefully we can capitalise on that.’
Strudwick believes the forwards battle will be vital between the two teams.
‘You can compare Affies to this year’s U18 Blue Bulls Craven Week team – they play the same style and have the same strengths. And you saw what happened to the Golden Lions in the final once the Bulls got onto the front foot.
‘We need to be competitive up front, get them on the back foot and put them under pressure. The breakdown battles will be vital, and we’ll need to be accurate at our set-pieces.’
Maritzburg College have six players who featured at the U18 Craven and Academy Weeks, and Strudwick believes this experience will be vital. They have the availability of star fullback Jesse Kriel, who will be dangerous on attack and as a key playmaker.
Affies have a massive pack up front, with loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and eighthman Steven Meiring set to play important roles. They also have dangerous backs that boast lots of skill and pace. Flyhalf Ryno Eksteen will be pivotal in how his outside speedsters run on Saturday.
Maritzburg College – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Cyle Muil, 13 Marcel Coetzee, 12 Richard Bamber, 11 Banele Ngwenya, 10 Lukas Booysen, 9 Josh Rencken, 8 Reegan Smith (c), 7 Cameron Christie, 6 Nicholas Muller, 5 Robert Kamhoot, 4 Everett Pieterse, 3 Mvelo Khumalo, 2 Vuyo Khathide, 1 Njabula Gumede.
Subs: 16 Alex Cahill, 17 Seko Buthelezi, 18 James Smith, 19 Jacques Conradie, 20 Kelvin Elder, 21 Thato Molelekoa, 22 Murray Janse van Rensburg.
Affies – 15 Constant Pretorius, 14 Marcus Kleinbooi, 13 Jurie Linde, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Andries van der Merwe, 10 Ryno Eksteen, 9 Louis Venter, 8 Steven Meiring, 7 Heinrich Viljoen, 6 Albert van Heerden, 5 Nicolas Janse van Rensburg, 4 Jean Droste, 3 WP Eloff, 2 Francois Steyn, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Cornell de Waal, 17 Xander Swart, 18 Gerhard de Beer, 19 Calvon Allison, 20 Heine Lombaard, 21 Marchant van der Heever, 22 Thys van Wyk.
The match will be broadcast on SS5 on Saturday at 5pm.