Varsity have the edge at home against Old Boys

2010-04-09 00:00

THE KZN Premier Division kicks off at 3.30 pm tomorrow with much interest in revitalised Maritzburg Varsity’s home match against Old Boys.

A beer fest at the convivial Varsity Rugby Stadium in the Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road from 1 pm tomorrow means that a home victory will taste all the sweeter for a club celebrating its fresh association with its primary and title sponsors, Foton Tractors.

New faces in tomorrow’s starting line-up are hooker and new Varsity captain Justin Meanwell, the 2005 Maritzburg College first XV captain who has joined from College Rovers, loose forward T.C. Khoza (College, Rovers, KZN U21, Wildebeest squad), loose forward Shaq Tshabalala (College, Rovers, Wildebeest squad), scrumhalf Rory Bremner (College, Craven Week 2004, Rovers), flyhalf Peter Grunow (Kearsney, Rovers), centre Olaf Eggers (Kearsney, Craven Week, Rovers, KZN U21) and Jarrod Snyman.

Seven of last season’s side — Andrew Lessing, Dan Norton, Jonno van Rensburg, Rolf Eggers, Matthew Boylan, Gareth Borchardt and Wessel Booysen — also start.

Mention must be made of the experienced Norton, whom this writer once dubbed “the Rottweiler” for his explosive power, agility and stamina. Now playing tighthead, Norton was disillusioned with the game last year. Reportedly a regular at Varsity training this season, a motivated, fit-again Norton is not someone Old Boys should take lightly.

A further feature of Varsity’s newfound depth in this their 99th year is the powerful second XV for tomorrow, and a third team — which meets Noodsberg at Varsity at 7 pm today — that includes four players in the tight five who played first team last year, one of whom is renowned scrummager and former first XV captain Derek Clifton.

As for tomorrow’s outcome, Old Boys firsts have a very good loose trio, although their tight five may struggle against what looks like a powerful Varsity front five who are probably heavier and more physical.

Varsity’s loose forwards are also a real threat, so while the set pieces should be the home side’s forte, the breakdown will see a no-holds-barred scrap for the ball.

Old Boys have a new combination at halfback to Varsity’s more settled pairing.

The green-and-whites’ compact, no-nonsense midfield should also have the edge, but a danger is the visitors’ back three, who will have to be marshalled very carefully.

In all, a tight first half is likely, but the game should open up for Varsity in the second as their forwards gain control, although most pundits believe this one could go either way.

At Woodburn, a First Division South double header sees PMB Elephants meeting Durban Varsity at 2 pm and PMB Collegians tackling Kokstad at 3.30 pm.

Collegians’ 57-3 drubbing of Durban Varsity was built around tight-five dominance that gave their backs front-foot ball. The Collegians’ front row, Blake Kyd, skipper Charl Bezuidenhout and Connor Caruth, laid the platform.

Former Midlands Rugby Academy student Bobby Warnock, one of eight former MRA players in the side, and centre Theo van Tonder were outstanding.

The MRA beat a Lions side at the National Academy Cup Easter tournament, so the Maritzburg U20A teams should give Old Boys counterparts something to think about on Woodburn’s number two field.

KZN FIXTURES

(Selected matches and times only; home teams first).

Friday – U20A: Jaguars vs Crusaders.

Saturday – Premier Division (3.30 pm): PMB Varsity vs Old Boys (Varsity Stadium); Zululand vs Durban Collegians; Harlequins vs College Rovers; Jaguars vs Crusaders. Prem Div Reserves: PMB Varsity vs Old Boys (2 pm). First Div South: PMB Collegians vs Kokstad (3.30 pm Woodburn Stadium); PMB Elephants vs Durban Varsity (2 pm Woodburn Stadium); Toti vs South Coast; Wentworth vs Ballito; Hillcrest bye. U20A (3.30 pm): Maritzburg vs Old Boys (3.30 pm Woodburn 2); Empangeni vs Durban Collegians; Harlequins vs College Rovers. U20B: Maritzburg vs Old Boys (2 pm Woodburn 2). U20C: PMB Varsity A vs Old Boys C (2 pm PMB Varsity 2); Empangeni B vs PMB Collegians A (3.30 pm Empangeni 2).

KZN RESULTS

First Div South: Durban Varsity 3 PMB Collegians 57; Toti 19 PMB Elephants 3; Ballito 14 South Coast 17; Hillcrest vs Wentworth (postponed). First Div South Reserves: Durban Varsity 6 PMB Collegians 29; Toti 45 PMB Elephants 0; Ballito 10 South Coast 10. U20A: Rovers 101 Crusaders 0; Harlequins 18 Dbn Collegians 46; Old Boys 83 Jaguars 0. U20B:Pietermaritzburg B 54 Amanzimtoti A 0.

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