SA Tour Update
Apologies for delay in update but this will be my 3rd attempt! I hope this one gets over the Equator!
It’s hard to believe that we have packed so much in to the past 14 days. Together with 4 sets of matches against The Langa Township, Paarl Boys High, Bredasdorp and Daniel Pienaar College, we’ve made visits to, for example, Table Mountain, The Cape of Good Hope, a Crocodile Park, Big Bay [white sandy beach near Cape Town], Haut Bay and Seal Island [we were followed by a pod of dolphins on boat trip to Island!], Robben Island, The Cape Town Waterfront, the Langa Township and Newlands Stadium to watch the Stormers play the Chiefs in the Super Rugby ¼ Final.
Apart from one very disappointing defeat for the 1st XV yesterday at the hands of Daniel Pienaar there have been a number of promising performances in the matches played so far.
In the first set of games against the Langa Township the 1st XV had a comfortable win 70-5 with tries from Olly Thomas , Henry McCloskey , Cole Beech, Daniel Walker, Ben Sherborne, Will Sanderson, Ben Gleeson, James Tayler, Seth Price and Matt Lampitt. Kai Hall  and James Tayler converted 5 of the 12 tries. The 2ND XV secured a convincing 49-0 win with 9 tries scored by Will Naylor , Dan Akiat , Fergus Jackson, Jacob Bexley, James Falkiner, Connor Holland and Marcus Rodriguez. The scoring was completed by Will Naylor who also added a conversion.
We knew before leaving Heathrow that our opponents at Paarl were going to be tough; they are the top-ranked schoolboy side in SA this season! With this in mind the 2nd XV’s magnificent win against a far bigger side was an outstanding performance. Their 18-5 victory was built on an impressive defensive effort and two well-taken tries by Seth Price and Cameron Wilkinson. Tom Rees completed the scoring with 2 penalties and a conversion. The 3rd XV also gave a very good account of themselves but went down 24-10. Toby Matthews scored a try and Fergus Jackson kicked a penalty and conversion.
In the final game of the day, the 1st XV came up against a very powerful Paarl side and found it very difficult to impose themselves on their opponents. A couple of soft tries were conceded in the first quarter from which we never recovered and the final score was 25-0. A positive reaction was needed after this below par performance for the middle game against Bredasdorp.
A reaction occurred and the 1ST XV played with a lot more energy beating a useful Bredasdorp side 22-13. The score-line flattered our hosts and reflected some interesting interpretation of the laws by the ref!
The 2nd XV were looking to maintain their unbeaten record and didn’t disappoint the ‘Blue Army’ in the stand with a well-fought 12-7 victory. Aaran James and Ben Gleeson scored our tries one of which was converted by Tom Rees.
The 3rd XV match was very close at half time but a couple of setbacks early in the second half made a big difference to the balance of the game and our hosts ran out 40-7 winners.
In our most recent set of matches yesterday’s against Daniel Pienaar located 30 mins out of Port Elizabeth in Uitenhage the 2nds were looking to make it 4 from 4. They made a tremendous effort against tough opponents and with 3 minutes to go were just 2 points down with the score at 21-19. However, DP scored a late try to make the final score 26-19. Tries were scored by Ben Gleeson and Luke Griffin and Tom Rees kicked 3 penalties. Nevertheless this had been another fantastic performance by by the 2nds.
Unfortunately, the 1st XV made a nervous start to their match making a number of basic errors at the restart and in defence and soon found themselves 21-0 down. They responded well just before the interval to get the score back to 26-12 at half time through tries by Cameron Wilkinson and Joe Hocking. However, the start of the second half was a repeat of the first half and a number of soft scores were conceded from which the side never recovered apart from a short spell right at the end of the game when replacement prop Chris Holman-Marshall crashed over after some good forward play. The score ended 66-20 with Kai Hall adding a penalty and conversion.
Tomorrow we leave Port Elizabeth for Johannesburg and the final leg of our Tour. We have just returned from a lovely local Italian restaurant where we had dinner to prepare for an early start tomorrow.
All the best,
Garde Ta Foy!