St John's festival is in its 24th year and is still producing some wonderful match-ups. Although the organisers face some serious challenges from other festivals this is still the tournament used as the yardstick to measure the success of all tournaments in South Africa. Some stupid predictions which will be followed with match reports as the games are played.
-19:20 St John's 17-7 Noordheuwel
Noordheuwel was promoted to the VirSeker Cup competition last year and are unbeaten in 2019 but played opponents which they should have beaten with relative ease but they did not. St Johns only won two from five but their last game against Jeppe which the lost 18-19 showed a St John's team that has a lot of potentials and will to win. They might just beat Noordheuwel to end day 1 of their own tournament on a high.
The final game on day 1 of the St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank, saw a much-anticipated clash between hosts’ St John’s College and Hoerskool Noordheuwel. The match was one that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats, but St John’s College, in the end, was able to secure a 17-7 victory, in a game where the home side could have won with a bigger margin.
The game was initially one that was closely contested, with St John’s always looking to make a statement very early on. Noordheuwel, on the other hand, was never willing to step back, dominating the physical battles, especially in the middle of the park. The hosts’ eventually realised the strengths of Noordheuwel and switched strategies, to attack the outside. This did eventually pay off, with winger Daniel Deeks firstly dazzling down the touchline, beating a few defenders, on his way to sliding in under the poles, with Bismarck Olivier successfully converting. That was however not the last of the points for the half, with speedster Clayton Pather, also pinning his ears back and turning on the burners, to gallop past two defenders from just in the Noordheuwel half, to dive over for the second converted try for St John’s College. At the break, the hosts’ were the ones smiling, as Noordheuwel trailed the Blues 14-0.
The second half saw Noordheuwel outscore St John’s by 7 points to 3, but a Bismarck Olivier penalty was enough to hold off any challenge from the visitor's attempt to make a comeback, after Noordheuwels’ JC Viljoen’s converted try. The home side, in the end, was able to start the festival off, with a 17-7 victory, but they will be a little frustrated that they could not score more points, as they had the opportunities but just failed to finish.
St Johns: Tries: Deeks, Pather Conversions: Olivier (2) Penalty: Olivier
Noordheuwel: Try: Viltjoen Conversion: Niewenhuizen
18:10 Helpmekaar 10-08 Stellenberg
This is one of the best match-ups on Thursday in the whole of South Africa. Helpmekaar maybe on a big dipper ride with their loss two weeks ago against Affies (17-52) the low and their showing at the Noord vs Suid Festival the highs. This Helpies team is red hot and I still do think they will be a top 10 side in 2019. The injury of they loosehead two weeks ago will cost them up front but there is still enough talent up front and in the back to be brilliant. Their loosies and outside backs are their major weapons.
Stellenberg's loss against Affies (21-28) came in a game they should have won, but an injury to their flyhalf cost them in the second half. they have a balanced team with very good forwards with their two locks outstanding. Their backline is extremely dangerous with the defence almost perfect. Stellenberg will need to attack and beat Helpmekaar up front if they want to stand a chance with their tall timber in the lineouts a big plus. The winner? Mmmmm .......................
One of this year's St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank debutants, Stellenberg High School were left stunned in the second half as Helpmekaar Kollege played out their socks, to earn themselves a narrow 10-8 victory on Burger field.
This 2019 festival only brought in two debutant teams and one was Stellenberg High School, who got the opportunity to write their name in the history books, as one of the sides that get in and win on debut. That, however, was not possible, when they stumbled in the late stages. The first half, however, failed to uphold the high scoring standard set by teams that had played earlier in the day. Stellenberg did, however, manage to get the first points of the game through the boot of fly-half Nivan Petersen, who converted a penalty to give his side a 3-0 lead. That would, unfortunately, be the only bit of points in the half as the battle remained tightly contested, with very little to tell between the two teams.
The second half was filled with a little more entertainment, with Helpmekaar however leaving it a little late to eventually outscore Stellenberg by two tries to one, in the end, winning the clash 10-8. The Helpmekaar forwards put in a great shift throughout the duel, which saw captain Brink Marx and 8th man Zander du Toit rewarded with a try each. Stellenberg’s solo and first try ever at the festival, was scored by Nivan Petersen, who failed to convert his own five pointers, which in the end proved costly.
Helpmekaar: Tries: Marx, du Toit
Stellenberg: Try: Peterson Penalty: Peterson
16:10 Nelspruit 27-7 St David's
St David's has won three from six with their losses more an indication of their form that the wins. Close losses against St Stithians (19-22) and St John's (31-37), their loss against Queen's College not that close (10-27) but still puts them in a grouping below of Nelspruit. Nelspruit is still looking for their first win of the season with losses of 7-71 (Monnas) and 30-32 against Middelburg HTS, but as stated not a good match-up especially for St Charles.
Hoerskool Nelspruit after not having been unfortunate in falling on the wrong side of some their results in 2018, arrived this time around at the St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank, with the intention of setting the record straight. They did just that, when they locked horns with St David’s Marist, Inanda, beating them 27-7.
The first half was one that was thoroughly dominated by Nelspruit, who got stuck into the St David’s boys right from the start of play. St David’s did however also have their fair share of opportunities, with the boys from Inanda just struggling to finish when the opportunity availed itself. The Nelspruit boys enjoyed the advantage of having a slightly heavier pack of forwards that also ran hard and were able to offload at the right times of play. This advantage at the end of the first period of play would prove useful for the boys from Nelspruit, who went into the break 20-0 up.
St David’s in the second half shifted into a different gear, playing at a higher tempo thus resulting in a more balanced performance that also made it difficult for Nelspruit to play as free as they did in the first half. The St David’s boys played with a lot of heart and determination that earned them a try from loosehead prop John-Kelly Okonkwo. At the end that was however only a consolation try for St David’s, with Nelspruit only managing only one of their own in the half. At the conclusion of the play, the damage done by Nelspruit in the first half was enough to see them through to an impressive 27-7 win. The standout player for Nelspruit on the scorebook was outside centre Nico Liversage, who dotted down twice, converted a try and a penalty. The other try scorers for Nelspruit were 8th man Devon Nell and loosehead prop Marthinus Celliers.
Nelspruit: Tries: Celliers, Liversage (2), Nell Conversions: Liversage (2) Penalty: Liversage
St Davids: Try: Okonkwo Conversion: vd Walt
15:00 St Charles 22-00 Daniël Pienaar
Daniël Pienaar lost their last three games and is definately not the school of once before, but they should have more than enough in the tank for St Charles who still is in search for their first win from three starts in 2019. Maybe a good match-up but definately not top schools in the country.
St Charles College made a return to the St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank after having missed 2018. Upon their return, they stunned HTS Daniel Pienaar with a sublime performance to win 22-0.
St Charles made it very difficult for Daniel Pienaar from very early on in the clash when they defended very well and were always able to quickly pounce on the errors made by Daniel Pienaar.
This saw St Charles then score the first try, through Erich Ortmann, with Eyethu Majozi failing to add the extra 2 points. With the score at 5-0, Daniel Pienaar tried to get back into the game and level matters but that only exposed them even further in defence. St Charles capitalized on this, with outside centre Zukile Mbuli slicing through the Daniel Pienaar defence for a converted try. That was all the action in the half, with the sides going into the break with St Charles enjoying a 12-0 advantage.
The second half saw Daniel Pienaar come close to scoring on a few occasions but St Charles was always able to clear their lines quite comfortable. The duel between the two remained very intense, with Daniel Pienaar looking desperate to claw their way back into the game but St Charles was always up to the challenge. The rest of the game did eventually see St Charles cross the whitewash twice, through Simiso Ngubane and Scott Heygate.
St Charles: Tries: Ngubane, Ortmann, Mbuli, Heygate Conversion: Majozi
13:50 Paarl Boishaai 66-07 Lions Invitational XV
Paarl Boys’ High School are currently attending their 23rd St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank, which makes them the record visitors to the festival, as it is celebrating its 24th anniversary. Boys’ High did also manage to celebrate their record attendance well, with a dominant performance, where they easily overcame a Golden Lions Presidential XV challenge 66-7.
Even though the boys from Paarl won with a big margin, they remained respectful of their opponents and keeping those in attendance entertained with the flair in their play. The Lions on the other hand also kept hammering away at the Boys’ High defence, whenever they got the opportunity. The Lions did also have a few exciting players in the mix, who however failed to gel at times, which could have been as a result of the lack of chemistry. At the halfway stage of the game, Paarl was well in control of the game leading 38-7.
The second half was just a matter of the Lions looking to keep Paarl from scoring any further points but they could not prevent this from happening. Lions scrum-half Tinashe Gower did however really stand out for the Union invitational team, with his eagerness to really take on the Boys’ High defence a number of times, always proving elusive for the boys from Paarl at times. In the end, his efforts alone would never have been enough, with Boys’ High eventually scoring a staggering 9 tries, with fly-half Kian Meadon converting all 9 conversion attempts, as well as a penalty. The scoreboard on Burger field at the full time read Paarl Boys’ High School 66 and the Golden Lions Presidential XV 7.
Boishaai: Tries: Roode, Lombaard, Farmer, Bocks, Venter, Horn, Hendricks, Osch, Nel Conversions: Meadon (9) Penalty: Meadon
Lions: Try: Schutte Conversion: Randall
12:40 Graeme College 24-37 Windhoek Gym
Graeme College had a horrible start to the season losing three from four with a draw against Dale. Their opponents at the Kingswood 125th Festival included the ISRF Lambs team (22-19) who is a combined team of the independent schools in England. Windhoek Gym always have a good team but again do not think that the visitors from Namibia will win BUT they will chase Graeme College the whole match. A close hard fought battle with the backline of Graeme the difference.
The encounter between Windhoek Gymnasium and Graeme College was one that was especially thrilling in the first half, where Windhoek enjoyed a slender 15-12 lead at the break, only to pull away in the second half ending up 37-24 victors on Burger field, at the St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival sponsored by Standard Bank.
The game got underway with both sides having shaky starts, with a lot of handling errors coming in the way of progressive attacking moves. Windhoek often looked to use their powerful forwards to breakdown the defence of their opponent, whilst Graeme College relied on keeping the ball in hand within their backs, that opted to run it and evade Windhoek defenders through the use of their fancy footwork. Unfortunately, both teams found it difficult inside the first 10 mins of the game, to keep the moves flowing, with the ball in hand, with to manhandling errors coming in the way. Windhoek was however the first team to get on the scoreboard, with Graeme keeping within touching distance. At the end, it was Windhoek who enjoyed a slim 15-12 lead at the interval.
When play resumed for the second half, Windhoek came out a different outfit, with their forwards bulldozing their way over a number of times. Flanker Jaco Enslin was the standout of the lot, crashing over twice, on both occasions making powerful runs through a few defenders. Herschell van Wyk was also threatening on a number of Windhoek attacks, with the Graeme College players showing signs of fatigue late in the half. Graeme flyhalf Lakhanya Sam was the standout for the boys from the Eastern Cape, who really dipped in the form in the second half, and eventually went down 37-24.
Graeme College: Tries: Bangisa (2), Mokhele, Planga Conversion: Sam, Shele
Windhoek Gym: Tries: Theunissen, Gouws, van Wyk, Enslin (2) Conversion: Liebenberg (2) Penalty: Liebenberg
11:30 Combined New South Wales 22-7 St Alban's
The New South Wales team normally meet each other either a few days before they depart for South Africa or even first at the airport when they leave for South Africa. They normally perform and combine better as the festival continues, therefore, expect some fireworks from the Aussies on Monday next week. St Alban's with a coach like Kennedy Tsimba know that the team will be prepared and they will play an attractive brand of rugby. They lost three of their seven games up to date but their wins did include Graeme College (10-07) and Muir College (22-00) of the Eastern Cape. St Alban's should win this with some running rugby.
The St John’s College Easter Rugby Festival, Sponsored by Standard Bank, got underway with New South Wales Combined High Schools all the way from Australia taking on the Pretoria based St Alban’s College. The boys from Wallaby country, in the end, proved too much for St Alban’s, beating them 22-7 at Burger field, giving the Australians a great start on their second South African outing.
The game was initially dominated by NSW, who made a statement very early, through their forwards that dominated the battles that enabled their backs some clean ball to create scoring opportunities. This eventually led to the Australians crossing the whitewash first when the ball was played out wide for winger Izaiah Ape-Esera to dot down in the corner. Flyhalf Jack Vincent was, unfortunately, unable to convert the try, with NSW enjoying a slender 5-0 lead. St Alban’s then had a few good passages of play but the defence of NSW remained solid, keeping them at bay. Before the halftime buzzer sounded, NSW managed to get back over the chalk one more time, this time through flanker Eden McQueen, who raced past a few St Alban’s defenders inside their own 22m area on his way to earning his side a 12-0 lead at the break, after Vincent this time around, managed to slot his conversion attempt.
The second half saw St Alban’s start the stronger of the two sides, with Rhys Fulford diving over for a try that was converted by Jarryd Dick. That would, however, be the last bit of points from the boys from across the Jukskei, after NSW were able to crossover for one more converted try and a penalty in the half, that saw NSW finish off the game with a hard-fought 22-7 victory.
NSW: Tries: Ape-Esera, McQueen, Denyer Conversions: Vincent (2) Penalties: Vincent
St Alban's: Try: Fulford Conversion: Frederix