GARETH DUNCAN previews the Schoolboy Derby feature match of the weekend between Grey PE and Grey Bloem in Port Elizabeth.
If there ever was a chance for Grey PE to break their eight-year losing streak to arch rivals Grey Bloem, Saturday would be their best chance.
They haven’t beaten the Bloemfontein school since 2004, which saw them celebrate a 17-14 win. They then struggled in the next seven derbies as Grey Bloem dominated the South African 1st XV scene.
However, this year, Grey Bloem have struggled according to their own high standards. Without any individual stars, they have suffered three losses this year against Paarl Gym (45-29), Affies (35-29) and Paarl Boys’ (28-18). All these defeats have occurred on the road.
Grey PE have been inconsistent this season, but will be confident with home-ground advantage. The hosts’ 1st XV head coach Rory Duncan believes they’re in a good position to achieve victory.
‘This will be my third Grey derby, but my first as a coach,’ Duncan told keo.co.za’s Schoolboy Derby. ‘In my first 1st XV year in 1994, we beat them in PE. We then lost in Bloemfontein in 1995. This could be third time lucky.
‘We won’t underestimate Grey Bloem. They are a very strong side and still have a respectable record this season. But we can’t ignore the fact that they are beatable this year and we will do what we can to win. The forwards battle will be vital, but we could see both teams run the ball. It will be an interesting battle.’
Grey Bloem 1st XV head coach Ingo Machts echoed Duncan’s sentiments.
‘Like us, they’ve done well to play a style of 15-man rugby. They like to spread the ball wide to their dangerous wings,’ said Machts. ‘I was happy with our win over Pretoria Boys’ last weekend, but we’ll need to improve on our defence if we want to win.
‘Grey PE have been inconsistent, but they had a brilliant start to the season and are a good side if they play to their potential. If they deliver a strong performance, we could be in trouble.’
With SA Schools trials happening on Saturday in Kempton Park, both teams will lose a key player. Grey Bloem will be without eighthman Edward Schmidt, while Grey PE will lose star speedster Sergeal Petersen.
Kick-off is at 3:30pm.