In our unofficial championship we assume a structure as follows:
There are 5 declared regional winners, we take the two regions geographically and competitively similar and they take part in an “Eastern and Central” play-off. The winner of this play-off will then be entered into the Top 4 with teams being drawn randomly, we use the application “random result” to determine the fixtures.
Our predicted winners for this year are as follows:
Central: Grey College
Western: Paarl Gim
Eastern and Central Play-Off
This year we would expect an Eastern and Central play-off to be between Grey College and Glenwood. Although Glenwood will be a strong school this year we cannot look further than an easy win for Grey College.
Top 4: Selborne vs Paarl Gim
Selborne will have a great team this year, some extremely talented players are in the team and there is no doubt that they would fight hard against Gimmies. But the sheer amount of quality within this Gim team would simply overwhelm Selborne in our opinion, Paarl Gim would move onto the final with ease.
Top 4: Grey College vs Monument
What a tussle this would be! The match ups would be unreal, Pohlmann vs Niewoudt, Goodman vs Sokoyi, Vumazonke vs Mouton! The forward battle would be immense with neither side giving an inch, but you would have to feel that Grey College would win the backline exchange with relative ease. Monna’s would put up a huge fight, but there would just be too much quality from Grey and with super subs available from their extremely talented bench they would kill off the game in the final 10.
Final: Grey College vs Paarl Gim
Only a brave man would call this, and we will attempt to do this. Both teams are so evenly matched it is scary, there are a few areas we will need to analyze however.
Tight 5: The Grey College front row will be difficult for the Gim boys to contain, we see it likely being a front row of Campher, Fourie and Niewoudt who will be all conquering this year. Gimmies have a solid front row but may just be on the back foot. The Grey College lineouts will be disrupted heavily by Rynardt Crous, but with Du Plessis the master tactician this could be negated.
Loose-Forwards: Basson and Nel will form the core of possibly the best loose trio in the country. They wont have it all their own way with Vumazonke and Barnard likely to fight for every inch. Fight they may, but we feel that the Gim loosies will starve Grey of quick ball. The tight 5 may lay solid foundations for the forwards but that will be heavily negated by the Gim loose-forwards.
Half-Backs: We anticipate Bradley Davids and Michael Koch being the half-back combination for Gim with the Grey College combination being Knoetze and Olivier. Only one of these combinations have 1st XV experience with that being the latter, they are likely to be the best half-back combination in the country and should provide their backline with the spark that is needed to go forward.
Centres: At this stage we are unsure of how Grey College will line up at centre for this year, likely we can expect with Knoetze playing at fly-half either Grey going with young guns Izaks and and Jean Smith or perhaps moving Ekeji from wing to centre. Unlike Grey there is little to no doubt who the centre combination for Paarl Gim will be, John du Toit and Ethan James. In James they have a player who is likely the best in the country, Du Toit himself is no slouch either and both will be pushing for SA Schools honours this year. There simply is not a centre combination Grey can muster that will compare with these two.
Back 3: Another extraordinary clash awaits us here. Grey will likely go with Sokoyi at fullback and we can assume that the wings will be Ekeji and Chabanyane. This back 3 will be causing problems for their opposition all year long, Sokoyi can create opportunities out of nowhere and feeding the giant Ekeji quality ball in space will no doubt make them hard to stop. But in this fixture we will see an unstoppable force meet an immovable object, the Gim back 3 is simply mouthwatering. In Jacobs at fullback they have one of the most exciting runners in the country, someone who can compete with Sokoyi. On the wings they have a dangerous player in Curwin Gertse who is raring to go, he almost single handedly won the Paarl derby for Gim last year and last but not least they have another extremely dangerous runner in Adrian Swartz. We would have to give a slight advantage to Paarl Gim here, all 3 of their players could easily make the SA Schools team come the end of the year.
So many factors to consider, and so little time. Both teams are equally matched and it will come down to conditions and the coaches. Games like this require a moment of genius, and both teams have players who can make magic happen at any moment. There is no clear winner here, although Gim won the fixture very easily as Under 16’s in this fixture this will count for nothing. This fixture will be taking place at the Wildeklawer festival this year and as we type and discuss this game the end result goes either Grey College’s direction or to Paarl Gim.
We would expect the game to be far tighter than most think it would be, both schools have powerful runners and great forward packs. Likely the pressure and expectation of the occasion would mean the schools would not play their traditional running games for fear of giving something away, in such a scenario Grey would certainly be favoured keeping the game tight with their powerful forwards.
We would see Grey building up a healthy lead with the first half being 11 – 3 in Grey’s favour. An early try by a rolling maul sees Grey go into the corner, the conversion is missed. It is now 16 – 3 to Grey and Gim look dead and buried with Grey in the driving seat.
15 minutes into the second half Grey get a penalty, the Gim captain gathers his team mates and while standing under the poles he says that they have nothing left to lose and have to throw caution to the wind and play their natural running game.
Grey’s tight 5 are beginning to tire, they have been absolutely dominant today and the game is taking its toll on them.
Subs start to roll in, Grey have exceptional talent to bring off the bench but their front row dominance will now be diminished – Du Plessis thinks this is a risk worth taking, it’s a long season and he has faith in his subs.
The penalty is missed, Gim kick a 22 drop out deep inside Grey territory. The clock is ticking, Grey want to slow the game down. Gim’s loose-forwards kick into action, a turnover penalty is won and a kick to the corner is taken.
Gim’s forwards believe that with Grey’s danger men off they now have a chance to give their backs some front foot ball, a small drive toward the try line is stopped and the ball is spread wide – a chip kick is executed and a try scored. The conversion is good, we now have a game on our hands for the final quarter with the score 16 – 10 in favour of Grey.
Gim have gone into full attack mode, Grey are defending like their lives depend on it. With a few players from last years 1st XV back on both sides the experience to deal with the pressure is there, but Grey are in unfamiliar territory having always punished their 2019 opponents during this period, with the exception of one – Paarl Gim.
Gim’s stayers will remember how a final flurry in the previous years fixture bought them within an inch of a dominant Grey College team and will communicate this to the rest of the team.
Time after time the Grey line is under assault, and time after time the assault is repelled. Gim are running out of ideas, Grey feel the game is within their grasp as we enter the final 5 minutes. A turnover is won on the Grey try line, their sub hoofs the ball down field. In open space Gim launch an attack, 3 tackles are evaded – the ball is not just kept among the forwards but recycled continually, the pressure is mounting on both teams when out of nowhere space opens and a try is scored by Gim in the corner, the crowd erupts.
Up steps the Gim kicker, the crowd goes silent – even old boys from Grey are keeping their mouths shut, this game is all about respect and tradition dictates silence. The kick is difficult, there is but a breath of wind. He steps up, kicks the ball – and…
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