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Schoolboys giants race clear of chasing pack

WEEKEND WRAP: Grey College and the other top-performing sides racked up the tries on a high-scoring weekend for the schoolboy game.

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The beginning of the 2024 season was punctuated by several significant upsets, with Jeppe beating Grey College, Milnerton downing Bishops and Rondebosch, and Wynberg claiming a rare win at Paarl Boys.

As the weeks have progressed, these shock results have been few and far between.

The top schools have flexed their muscles, while the less well-resourced teams have struggled to maintain their competitive effort.

The most recent round is a case in point.

Paul Roos secured their 11th straight win when they thumped Wynberg 50-25 in Stellenbosch.

The game was in the balance at half-time, with the hosts leading 26-20. The second half, however, was more one-sided.

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The trans-Jukskei derby at KES followed a similar pattern.

Like Wynberg, KES have enjoyed a good overall season, and have earned the right to be ranked among the top 25 school teams in the country.

When facing the very best schools, however, Wynberg, KES and others have competed in patches before losing momentum in the latter stages.

KES started well against Affies this past Saturday, and only trailed 14-18 at half-time. In the second stanza, they were overrun by the Pretoria outfit, who scored 34 points to win 52-26.

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Grey College produced the most ruthless performance of the weekend, scoring 13 tries in their 87-19 win over Monument in Bloemfontein.

Alezadon Felix and Pretorius Ekeji scored two tries apiece, while fullback Heinz Stockenstrom contributed 25 points.

The result stretched Grey’s winning run to eight matches. The consistency of the performance, however, is worth noting, as they scored 40 points in the first half, before racking up 47 in the second.

It’s also worth noting that Monument are, according to several schoolboy rugby experts, among the top 20 sides in the country. That certainly puts Grey’s performance into perspective.

There’s a gap between the better teams and the very best teams. As the 2024 season has progressed, the results and scorelines have served to highlight that gap.

Grey College and Paul Roos appear to be operating at another level, although recent results would suggest that Paarl Gym and Affies aren’t far off.

In their most recent clashes with Grey College and Paul Roos, Gimmies lost by less than a score. Two weeks ago, a late lapse cost Affies a memorable win against Grey in Pretoria.

Nevertheless, Grey College and Paul Roos appear ideally placed to continue their respective winning runs.

The next meeting between the two schools on 17 August may well determine who is crowned the best side of the season.

Gimmies and Affies may contend for the ‘best of the rest’ title, although the Paarl side already has the edge, having won the most recent clash between the two sides in Pretoria.

Waterkloof have been one of the most consistent teams this year, both in terms of results and performance.

The 45-33 win over Rustenburg last Saturday marked their eight consecutive victory, as well as the ninth time they have scored 40 or more points.

There were a few surprises in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Northwood beat Maritzburg College, while Westville tamed Hilton.

Hudson Park travelled to Queen’s College as underdogs, yet managed to secure a 27-25 victory.

Perhaps we will witness one or two more big upsets before the season is done.

Waterkloof will be targeting a victory against local rivals Affies in July, Boishaai, who have produced a mixed bag to date, will be gunning for a victory in the Paarl derby on the final weekend of the season.

Whether any other team can stop Paul Roos or Grey College is another story. Indeed, it remains to be seen whether any of their remaining opponents will get close.

Grey College will be favourites when they head down to Gqeberha to face their sister school in the new term. Thereafter, they will face Oakdale in Bloem.

Before facing Grey in the season finale, Paul Roos will travel to Oakdale and Stellenberg, and host Bishops and Boland Landbou.

Gimmies didn’t have everything their own way in the recent match staged in Riversdale, but Paul Roos would expect to win that fixture, as well as the other three, before meeting Grey College.

* Picture credit: @AHS1920

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