Monument will host Waterkloof in a Premier Interschools match on Saturday. TYRONE ENGEL reports.
The sides last faced each other in 2012 when Waterkloof won 21-19. They haven’t played since due to time constraints and not being able to find a suitable date when both schools would be available.
Monument have recorded seven wins from 11 games, including a 25-17 victory against Nelspruit in the Tuks Series final last Saturday. They thrashed Transvalia 76-0 in their opening game of the Tuks Series, and followed that up with a 43-7 win against HTS Louis Botha at home before crushing Italian side Viadana 47-0 in their opening game at the St John’s Easter Festival. They lost their next two festival games against Paul Roos (14-11) and Helpmekaar (30-15).
Monnas got back on track with three consecutive wins in the Tuks Series against Kempton Park (43-16), Rustenberg (46-12) and Garsfontein (29-11) in the semi-final.
They next went winless at the Wildeklawer Super School Festival, drawing 3-3 with Selborne and losing 40-25 against Outeniqua, before going on to win the Tuks Series final.
The Wit Bulle have not lost at home in 20 games since 2013 and are confident of extending that streak on Saturday.
‘We can definitely see the work we put in during pre-season training in our match performances this year,’ Monument 1st XV coach Hans Coetzee told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘We did a lot of cardiovascular work, and ran a lot more, and our fitness levels are definitely at a higher level than last year.
‘However, injuries have plagued us this year,’ he added. ‘We lost vital players early on in the season. Our flyhalf Xander Kruger, who played Craven Week for the Lions last year, tore knee ligaments in our first pre-season match and has been ruled out for the season. Our scrumhalf Ulrich Booysen dislocated his shoulder in the first match and needed an operation. The injuries have affected our depth, but it gives other players an opportunity. But you do miss that experience from players who have played 1st XV before.
‘The problem for most teams is the time we have available for training because provincial trials are happening at the moment. But I’m happy with where the team is right now.
‘It’s a fantastic opportunity for the players with the match being televised on SuperSport. It’s a privilege and a honour for them to play in such a high-profile game, there’s nothing else on the line besides having fun and playing a good match.’
Waterkloof got their season off to a winning start against Goudveld (53-14) before losing both of their fixtures at the North-South festival against Paarl Gym (35-10) and Outeniqua (10-3).
Klofies won their opening game at the KES Easter Festival against St Benedict’s (17-7) before losing 12-7 to Jeppe and beating Marlow 16-11. They then beat KES 30-14 away from home.
Waterkloof were also unable to record a victory at the Wildeklawer Festival, losing 51-5 to Paarl Boys’ and 30-20 to Boland Landbou. They claimed just their fifth win of the season last Saturday, beating Noordheuwel 32-25 at home.
‘I’m happy with the season so far, but we had a few close losses and we have to start turning those around and winning the big matches,’ Waterkloof 1st XV coach Jan Mollentze told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘Paarl Boys’ and Paarl Gym overpowered us in the last 10 to 15 minutes.
‘However, we’ve definitely been able to see the work we put in during pre-season come through in our match performances,’ Mollentze added. ‘We focused a lot on improving our physical game, because we’re a smaller team. We want to match the bigger teams who have been able to overpower us in the last part of the game.
‘Our preparation is going very well for Saturday’s game. The players are focused and they are looking forward to it. We know what we have to do to pull off the win. Saturday is a fantastic opportunity for the younger players to win one of the big games after close losses to Boland Landbou, Outeniqua and Jeppe.
‘There’s no extra pressure on the players because the match is being televised, or that Monnas have won all their home games since 2013. Our goal is to go out there and play positive, attacking, entertaining rugby. The TV cameras are not going to influence our strategy at all.’
In other matches to look forward to in Gauteng, Jeppe travel to St Stithians having won 10 of their 11 games this season, the last of which was at home against Westville Boys’ (45-14). Their only loss came against Ben Vorster (34-19) in April, which was played as a curtain-raiser for the Lions Super Rugby match at Ellis Park.
St Stithians have played just seven game so far this season, winning four, against Noordheuwel (26-10), Graeme College (17-16) and Clifton (46-21), at their Easter festival, as well as St David’s Marist Inanda (55-23).
Gauteng fixtures (14 May):
Pretoria Boys’ vs Westville
St Stithians vs Jeppe
Menlopark vs Diamantveld
HTS Middelburg vs Middelburg High
St David’s Marist vs Sutherland
Krugersdorp High vs CBC Boksburg
Monument vs Waterkloof
Wonderboom vs Centurion
Helpmekaar vs Pietersburg
Linden vs Bastion
Rand Park vs HeronBridge
St Benedict’s vs Parktown