G’town derby set to be humdinger

Neale Emslie

THE first shots in Grahamstown’s traditional schools rugby rivalry will be fired tomorrow when Graeme host St Andrew’s on the Somerset field in what is shaping up as an epic showdown. While the coaches will be trying to play down the importance of the occasion to lessen the pressure, the adrenalin is sure to be flowing when the first team game kicks off at 4pm.

St Andrew’s and Graeme have a long history of classic clashes and the fact that St Andrew’s have won most of those will be of little significance to their rivals. They came close last year in a 10-6 defeat and with nearly their full 2012 side back in harness this year, the home side will be fired up to claim the bragging rights.

“It’s building up to be a good game,” Graeme head of rugby Nico van der Meulen said yesterday. “St Andrew’s are a good side. They haven’t been beaten this year. I think it will be a close game.”

St Andrew’s have just begun their second term and so have not had much match practice lately, but director of rugby Allan Miles said they had a rugby camp earlier this week to prepare for the game.

“We had quite a heavy start to the season, with six games played already, so perhaps the break was not a bad thing,” he said. “We are happy with the team, but there are still a few things to work on.

“There’s a strong rivalry between the schools and we have a lot of respect for them and their coaching team.”

Another big game this weekend takes place in Cradock when Marlow will face another stiff test against Nico Malan.

Nico Malan got back on the winning trail last weekend after three losses when they defeated Pearson, but will find Marlow a tough nut to crack.

Ndzondelelo are set for an interesting clash with Bertram, while Ithembelihle have set up a day against Brandwag, where the Uitenhage side will be strong favourites to notch up another win.

Brandwag have lost only to Kempton Park this season.

Grey High, fresh from a fine win over Paul Roos, travel to Cape Town for their derby day against Wynberg.

The programme, subject to change, is (home teams first, 11.30am start unless otherwise arranged)

Arcadia v M Blackburn, Ndzondelelo v Bertram, Ithembe v Brandwag (1pm, Saders), Otto v DP, Despatch v Pearson, Graeme v St Andrew’s (4pm), John Walton v Uitenhage, Kingswood v Kirkwood, Solomon Mahlangu v McCarthy, Winterberg v Volkskool, Wynberg v Grey High, Marlow v Nico Malan.

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