The Blue Bulls and WP will meet in a must-win encounter on match day two at the U18 Craven Week in PE.
The two teams are considered the front-runners for the 2012 unofficial champions title, and will meet in the feature game on Tuesday. Victory will be needed to book a place in the unofficial final on Saturday.
Blue Bulls U18 Craven Week head coach Riaan Brandt believes he has the squad to triumph in the big clash. The Pretoria union will be hoping to overcome the disappointment of 2011, when they were edged 14-11 by Free State in the second round.
‘We have a balanced team. And we got to show that in our trial game against Free State [the Blue Bulls secured a 37-10 win],’ Brandt told Schoolboy Derby. ‘We have a very strong pack and a backline with a lot of pace and a lot of skill. Our halfback pair will play important roles, but the forwards will need to lay the platform up front. Especially our tight five.
‘It’s unfortunate that we’ll have to face WP in our first match as we’re both strong teams,’ adds Brandt. ‘If you lose, you’re out. So we’ll be looking to deliver a strong performance to win.’
WP team manager Petri Stoffberg believes the Cape side is in a strong position to win.
‘We have a very good team, with most of our players coming from Paarl Boys’, Paarl Gym and Paul Roos,’ Stoffberg also told this site. ‘So there’s good unity in the team as they know each other very well.
‘We lost to SWD in a trial game, but we learnt a lot from that defeat. We will need to put in a strong forwards display to beat the Blue Bulls. The set pieces and breakdowns will be crucial.’
Stoffberg added that the announcement of flyhalf Handre Pollard’s departure to the Blue Bulls next year hasn’t caused any distractions.
‘Handre will be a key player for us and he is our captain. We all respected his decision to join the Bulls next year. This is a professional game after all,’ said Stoffberg. ‘That hasn’t even been a focus point during our preparations. We all just want to do very well at Craven Week this year, including Handre.’
Blue Bulls – 15 Jaco Hayward (Centurion), 14 Marcus Kleinbooi (Affies), 13 Jurie Linde (Affies), 12 Rohan Jansen van Rensburg (Waterkloof), 11 Caswell Khoza (Southdowns), 10 Ryno Eksteen (Affies), 9 Justin Phillips (Waterkloof), 8 Steven Meiring (Affies), 7 Heinrich Viljoen (Affies), 6 Thabo Mabuza (Centurion), 5 Janse van Rensburg (Affies), 4 Hyron Andrews (Garsfontein), 3 Johan Bannink (Garsfontein), 2 Vean Roodt (Centurion), 1 Pierre Schoeman (Affies, c)
Subs: 16 François Steyn (Affies), 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen (Centurion), 18 Johan Ras (Centurion), 19 Bobby de Wee (Southdowns), 20 George-Lee Erasmus (Centurion), 21 Chad McKay (Centurion), 22 Marquit September (Garsfontein).
WP – 15 Jason Worral (Paul Roos), 14 Dalen Goliath (Paul Roos), 13 Michael Hazner (Paul Roos), 12 Wesley Cupido (Paarl Gym), 11 G Hermanus (Paarl Gym), 10 Handre Pollard (Paarl Gym, c), 9 Pieter Schoonraad (Paarl Boys’), 8 Rikus Bothma (Paarl Gym), 7 Jacques Vermeulen (Paarl Gym), 6 Ramon Samuels (Paul Roos), 5 JD Schikerling (Paarl Gym), 4 Sebastian Ferreira (Paarl Boys’), 3 Liam Hendricks (Paarl Boys’), 2 Chad Solomon (Paul Roos), 1 M Nortje (Tygerberg).
Subs: 16 Craig Corbett (Paarl Boys’), 17 Wesley Adonis (Paarl Boys’), 18 Burger van Niekerk (Paarl Boys’), 19 Corne Cooper (Paarl Gym), 20 SP Ferreira (Paul Roos), 21 D Cox (Excelsior), 22 Keagan Gordon (Boland Landbou).
By Gareth Duncan