Close encounters of the Northern League kind

Boesmansdam's under-16 player Tristan Jacobs had a sine game.

Schools across the province got back into the sporty swing of things this weekend as they took to their respective pitches to resume some winter sports action.

The Northern League schools’ rugby league saw four teams back on the turf vying for honours, with Bosmansdam High School hosting long-time rivals President, while just up the road league champions Edgemead High School hosted JG Meiring in some tight and entertaining clashes.

For the most part, teams did well to shake off the rust but a mix of rainy weather and getting back a feel for the game saw some very close scores, with Bosmansdam and President’s under-19s facing off to a 12-all draw and Meiring narrowly pipping last year’s champions 13-10.

However, it was the Bosmansdam under-16s who deservedly stole the show after continuing their unbeaten run in the competition and earning their eighth win in a row across all formats.

Although he said his side struggled to gel in their opening fixture of the new term, coach JP Norman still tipped his hat to his side who have shown true grit, not only this season, but in their clash with President too, coming back in the dying minutes of the game to seal a 15-12 victory and keep their unblemished record in tact.

“We have had a phenomenal season. We haven’t lost any of our league games and have now won eight straight. We’ve been blessed with a bunch of motivated players that share a common goal so coaching them has been a pleasure from our side.

“I think as the season progressed, with this weekend as the one exception, the players have developed a great team spirit and that has always been our goal as coaches from the start. Some of the boys have developed into really fine rugby players and I’m sure we will be seeing them running out for the first team in future,” said Norman.

One such player, who really made his presence felt at the weekend, was eighthman Timothy Mbana. His loping runs and work ethic saw him carrying the ball up-field on a number of occasions and his try in the dying moments of the match, taking a quick tap and sniping through the President defensive line, was the nail his side needed to close the coffin on their opposition.

“Timothy is very good and tough as nails as well. He sometimes tries to do too much on his own but he is an all-round great asset to our side. There’s very little he can’t do on a rugby field and I look forward to seeing how he develops going forward.

“I think the pressure got to my boys this weekend as they didn’t perform as well as they should have. President’s defence was solid and the three week holiday didn’t help as the boys weren’t sharp and their match fitness and conditioning wasn’t up to scratch. We have a lot to work on as we prepare for our Fairmont game,” said Norman.

A few stone’s throws away, an eager Edgemead under-19A side were the first to cross the whitewash despite JG Meiring having the lion’s share of ball and converting a penalty in the opening stanza.

Their lead was short-lived, however, as Meiring pounced back. This set the tone for much of the first half as the game became an arm wrestle of to-and-fro rugby. The teams went into the break with the score at 13-10 in favour of the visitors, which remained unchanged in the second half.

A changeover in coaching staff mid-way through their season has seen the Eagles struggle to regain last year’s glories but head coach Jaycee van der Merwe is confident that his team will take it in their stride and still bounce back strongly.

“We had a situation where our head coach withdrew his services from the team, at which point I moved from the backline coach to concentrate on the forwards.

“It’s a bit difficult to do both at the same time and trying to coach the team as a whole is problematic as my specialty is with the backline.

“Our game at the weekend was a bit of a scrappy affair and I think the rain played a big part in that. We had a few opportunities but the boys weren’t able to finish. I think our forwards had a good game but the backs weren’t able to pull it through so that is something we will have to work on,” he said.