Another bruising weekend

2014-04-26 00:00

WITH another long weekend ahead, schoolboy rugby matches that look to create the most interest today are the Michaelhouse/Westville clash at Meadows in Balgowan, and the Hilton/Kearsney clash on Gilfillan Field at Hilton.

Westville have endured a tough programme of late, none more so than the Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival last weekend, where the boys played three matches in five days.

Coach Grant Bell is not scared to say his charges are a touch weary and battle-worn, but such is the spirit and passion of Westville, they will make the trip to the Midlands determined to do themselves and the school badge proud.

“It has been a lot of game time recently. Besides the Kearsney Festival, we played three games at the Grey PE Festival as well and had a game against DHS sandwiched between all this,” said Bell.

“I think the DHS match could be described as a match too far and of course, injuries have called for adjustments to today’s team, with three key players sidelined.”

Those players are right wing Donovan Pieters, lock Brandon Warner and flank Nathan Meilhon, who has enjoyed a strong season to date, recognised as one of the playmakers in the team.

“Such is the nature of the game but these injuries set us back as we are a little thin on the bench,” said Bell.

“It’s fair to say the step up from second team level to first team is a big one and the replacements take time to adjust and settle. Our core 15 who are regulars in the side are our strongest players.”

With Michaelhouse having rested over the past few weeks and last played at the Grey Festival, Bell expects the men in red and white to take the game to Westville, making full use of their well-rested legs.

“Obviously they will try to run at us at every opportunity and they are always a tough proposition on their home turf where they enjoy massive support,” he said. “We are up to the challenge though, and if we allow their backs to fire and come at us, we could be in for a long afternoon.”

Michaelhouse have shown promise to date this season and, after a 36-3 win against Voortrekker, were desperately unlucky to go down 17-14 to Glenwood in Durban. That performance showed a side with guts and commitment and on their home soil, against a battle-scarred Westville outfit, they could be the happier team come the final whistle.

At the Grey Festival, they beat Queens and again, were losers against Graeme College and the hosts by less than a handful of points.

Kick-off is at 3.30 pm.

Hilton and Kearsney always enjoy a good scrap and Hilton will be keen to impress after a tough St Stithian’s Easter Festival where they won one of three matches, beating SACS by a point and going down to St Andrew’s and the hosts.

Another one-point win against St Charles at the beginning of the season will see the hosts wanting to put some distance between themselves and the opposition, but Kearsney will not take matters lying down.

At their Easter Festival, they also lost two and won one, the final match against EG Jansen taking its toll on a side that looked tired and keen for some time out.

Nonetheless, wins against Westville, Northwood and Pretoria Boys’ High are not to be scoffed at and as a side renowned for their running rugby, Kearsney travel to Hilton on a mission, keen to prevail in a rivalry that has generated much interest through the years.

Kick-off is at 3.30 pm.

Other matches of note see Northwood play Jeppe, DHS take on Parktown and, in an interesting clash, Clifton College running out against St Charles.

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