After surrendering their unbeaten run of ten consecutive victories to St Georges last week, all eyes are now on Villager FC this weekend when they take on Hamlets RFC away at Mamre, a venue notoriously difficult to win at, on Saturday 16 August. Kick-off is at 16h00.
Losing often reveals the character of a team, no matter how successful they have been beforehand, how they respond afterwards is of crucial importance if they are to bounce back better than before. The vast array of emotions and lessons that come with losing can be beneficial for team’s that may have forgotten the determination and focus each fixture requires in order to win.
Villager has been lucky on many an occasion this year, the number of games which could have ended in losses but didn’t, were good lessons in closing games out, but they were often a result of certain key players bearing the brunt of the responsibility to secure the win. It has been a strategy which has proven successful until the fanatical defence of St Georges proved the folly of the strategy. In order to beat St Georges a team effort was required but with habit coming to the fore, the opposition defenders easily prevented individuals from claiming the crucial score. For Villager, last week’s loss may have been the best lesson they have yet learnt.
To overcome Hamlets in Mamre this weekend each player has to ensure they execute their role to near perfection and display the determination with which the “Dirty Whites” began the year when they set out their goals at the start. As a team Villager has few rivals in the SLB this year, their pack is immense, while their backline possess both size and skill; a potent combination most opposition teams have struggled to stop. Although Hamlets are not an easy team to beat at home, their drawn game with St Georges is a particularly disquieting result, they do currently lie in 12th position on the log having won only three games from eleven as opposed to Villager who are 1st having won ten from eleven. Villager will no doubt need to display immense character this weekend against a side who will truly believe another upset is on the cards.
To counter the Hamlets home ground advantage forwards coach Riaan Crous has gone with a vastly more experienced forward pack with the inclusion of Troy Lee at loose head prop, Richard “Oupa” Williams at lock and Andrew Wilkins at blindside flank. The inclusion of Wilkins in particular should provide the pack with a good measure of grunt as well as calm leadership should the game become highly pressurised. With more senior players around him, Captain Ashley Clarke will be able to focus most of his energies on his game, an exciting prospect for the Brookside faithful for it is a well-known fact that when Clarke is firing, so is the team.
In the front row, Troy Lee is joined by Scott Pitcher at hooker where his superb energy around the park, combined with the power and skill of WP Disas tight head prop Ryan Germishuys, offers the side with much more than mere scrummaging ability. The second row welcomes Kwaks Ngwanya back into the starting mix for the second time this year, his enthusiasm coupled with the experience of Oupa Williams should prove a good balance depending on the game situation come Saturday. The aforementioned Wilkins and Clarke are joined by top try scoring open side flanker Jannie Bester, in a powerful loose forward combination not many in this league can boast.
In the backline, coach Kirsten Marshall has made three changes to the side from last week, two enforced and one rotational, which sees the inclusion of Christo Terblanche at scrumhalf in place of Daniel Anderson, Wayne Van Niekerk for Brent Sanders at wing and Jarred Stokes for Jethro Valentine at fullback.
The inclusion of Van Niekerk in particular is an exciting one as his poor run of injuries this year seems finally at an end enabling him to win his first cap for the 1st XV. Although the unavailability of Sanders on the wing is a potentially big blow, Van Niekerk offers the side a good mix of energy and skill, while the inclusion of Stokes should ensure the loss of Valentine, who has been in sublime form of late, is not felt too much as both possess similar capabilities with ball in hand.
With the rotational switch at scrumhalf, Terblanche will be keenly aware of his responsibilities in organising the forwards, a role which will determine how well the Brooksider’s play on Saturday. Together with Tim Marsh, who continues his astute guidance of the side at flyhalf, they will need to ensure the right balance of forward and backline play is adhered too if lessons from last week are to be taken on board. However with centres David Radloff and Stuart Pattision continuing their partnership coupled with the blistering pace of winger Blane Hansen as well as the skills of Stokes and Van Niekerk, the Villager backline have serious potential, but will need the pack to earn their right to go wide first.
The bench sees the inclusion of regular starters Adrian Cleophas, Brodie Blows and Daniel Anderson, as a result of Hughes’ rotational policy, while Jamie Kaiser and Geoff Van Ryneveldt remain on the bench for a second week. The inclusion of Luke Westgarth Taylor as lock replacement is a pleasing one after his unreserved patience playing in the thirds and seconds this year has eventually earned him his first call up to the 1st XV this year, while although Louis Gabriel receives his second call up this year, he will be hoping to receive his first cap of the season after playing a strong role in the seconds thus far.
Head Coach Gunner Hughes believes his side has what it takes this weekend to bounce back. “I think last week taught us a lot about ourselves, the change room afterwards said it all.” He said. “The fellas are super keen to move on and continue with our journey one game at a time. Hamlets are a tough side when playing in front of their supporters, so we will need a big effort to get the crucial win away from home.”
Villager FC looks forward to meeting Hamlets in Mamre, a venue far away enough to warrant the entire cub travelling by bus as a small gesture to thank each and every player for playing at the club this year for the right reasons.
Villager FC vs Hamlets
1. Troy Lee 2. Scott Pitcher 3. Ryan Germishuys 4. Richard Williams 5. Kwaks Ngwanya 6. Jannie Bester 7. Andrew Wilkins 8. Ashley Clarke (CPT) 9. Christo Terblanche 10. Tim Marsh 11. Blane Hansen 12. David Radloff 13. Stuart Pattison (V/C) 14. Wayne Van Niekerk 15. Jarred Stokes
Fixtures vs Hamlets RFC:
|Hamlets RFC 1st XV||Villager FC 1st XV||Mamre ‘A’||16:00|
|Hamlets RFC 2nd XV||Villager FC 2nd XV||Mamre ‘A’||14:45|
|Hamlets RFC 3rd XV||Villager FC 3rd XV||Mamre ‘A’||13:35|
|Hamlets RFC u20||Villager FC u20||Protea Park||14:00|