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Milnerton’s success puts ‘bigger’ schools on notice

SCHOOL WRAP: Milnerton claimed their second big scalp of the season when they beat Bishops, while Grey College made a statement of their own at Paarl Gymnasium.

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Shock results are now a near-weekly occurrence. It’s only April, and already we’ve seen Jeppe, Wynberg and Milnerton (twice) beating bigger, more well-resourced schools.

At the top of the pyramid, we’ve seen four or five juggernauts jousting for the unofficial title of South Africa’s best.

It’s been an explosive start to the schools season. Will things settle down in the coming weeks, with the bigger schools taking control?

It’s tempting to answer in the affirmative and predict that the game between Paul Roos and Grey College at the Markotter Stadium on August 17 will amount to an unofficial final.

 

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At the same time, it’s worth noting all that has happened, and how widely held perceptions have been challenged on a regular basis.

Grey College were written off after the loss to Jeppe. Following a convincing 29-27 away win against Paarl Gym, however, the boys from Bloem are back on top.

Two weeks ago, the Paarl heavyweights were undefeated. Fast forward to the present, where Gimmies’ winning streak has come to an end, and Boishaai are licking their wounds after suffering
losses to Wynberg and Paul Roos.

Paul Roos remain undefeated – and that flawless record includes victories against Boishaai (25-10) and Affies (30-25).

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Based on this record, they should be favourites to beat Grey High in Gqeberha next week.

Then again, considering the trend of upsets in 2024, and the fact that Grey High drew 10-10 with a strong Wynberg outfit in the previous round, one can’t rule out the possibility of a shock result in favour of the Eastern Cape side.

Jeppe boasts a fine side this season, as does Wynberg. So much has been made about their respective wins over Grey College and Bishops, but both teams are ranked among the top 20 schools in the country.

With this in mind, you would expect them to compete against the top dogs, and to claim a big scalp on occasion.

Expectations will continue build when Wynberg returns to Cape Town’s southern suburbs for matches against Bishops and Rondebosch, and when Jeppe tackle KES.

What would it mean for a side like Wynberg to beat Boland Lanbou, Paul Roos or Paarl Gym later in the season? Recent performances will fuel Wynberg’s belief, and place the ‘bigger’ teams on high alert.

Now consider Milnerton, who until recently, were ranked outside the top 100 schools in the country.

Despite their lowly status, they have claimed two big scalps over the past three weeks.

Milnerton overturned a 30-point deficit to beat Rondebosch away. While that result was widely lauded, some highlighted the substitutions made by the hosts in the latter stages, as well as the drop in intensity.

This past Saturday, however, Milnerton proved that the result at Rondebosch was no fluke, when they beat Bishops at the Piley Rees Field.

Once again, they showed their mettle to hit back in the latter stages, rebounding from an 18-point deficit to win 31-28. Captain Frank Hitimana led by example, scoring three of his side’s four tries.

It will be interesting to see how Milnerton approach the next series of matches.

If they build on their five-game winning streak, and collect further victories against Bellville, Tygerberg and Parel Vallei, they will travel to SACS – who recently lost 55-22 to Rondebosch – with significant confidence and momentum.

Milnerton may well finish a memorable season with a ‘southern suburbs treble’. It would be a terrific achievement in the context of their journey – and give other ‘smaller’ teams reason to believe that schools in the upper echelons are beatable.

In other big matches staged over the weekend, DHS edged Maritzburg College 21-18, while Queen’s College beat Dale 29-15. Waterkloof, who have improved steadily in the early rounds,
downed Menlopark 23-8 in the NWU Sport Series final.

It’s natural for fans to be drawn to the high-profile clashes between the traditional powerhouses – even more so now that so many of these matches are televised or streamed.

That said, the feats of the smaller characters in this particular play have been no less compelling, and their storylines will bear following in the weeks to come.

*Photo credit: Milnerton High School

 

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