Villagers FC, after a difficult period of four consecutive away fixtures, are finally back at Brookside taking on Rangers RFC this Friday evening in their seventh round SLB fixture. Kick off 9pm.
As a result of the extended period away from home the Villager team return to Brookside in a different frame of mind than the one that ran out in their opening league fixture for 2014 against Macassar. Understandably at the time the players, coaches and supporters were unsure of what lay ahead for the team in the new SLB format, while the newly formed Villager team were largely unknown, untried and untested.
Although the initial fears of another poor season for Villager were somewhat quietened when the side beat Macassar comfortably and then trashed Scottsdene by a massive margin, Villager have not had everything its own way in the subsequent games. The Milnerton game put paid to any possible complacency the Villager players may have felt after the hosts second half comeback came close to winning the game, while the Young Peoples fixture proved Villager were now a marked team and for the second week in a row did not ease to an easy victory.
However last week’s performance against Collegians away from home has gone some way in establishing the side as real title contenders in this year’s league. Although a long way to go, and by no means the remaining games are a forgone conclusion, the Villager players can be proud of the way they have risen to all challenges in difficult circumstances to remain unbeaten after five games and sit second on the log behind St Georges.
The biggest challenge that now awaits Andrew Hughes’ side is to remain firmly focussed on each game as they come, for no opponent is easily beaten in this unpredictable league. “To be where we are after five games is a massive achievement and I could not be happier by the effort the players have put in so far. We have lost a number of players to injury and have faced some tough moments in our last three games that could have gone either way, so we are aware our results may have been very different. Thus we are not taking anything for granted against Rangers on Friday night.” Hughes said.
It is well known many teams thrive when playing at Brookside as a result of the legacies left behind by many a Springbok and Western Province legend, while the stadium-like facilities Brookside has to offer ensures visiting opponents raise their game to match the occasion. The prospect of playing Rangers RFC at home is not going to be an easy one for Ashley Clarke’s charges, “Rangers will be a tough nut to crack on Friday, they are mid table at the moment and will desperately want to claim the scalp of Villager at home in front of our supporters. Playing at Brookside is a great experience for our players let alone the visitors, while our historical legacy makes us a targeted team so we will have to be at the top of our game to come out victors.”
Hughes has made few changes to the pack from last week with the front row of Adrian Cleophas, Troy Lee and Ryan Germishuys retaining their places. Troy Lee was a welcomed addition back to the side against Collegians, while the ever impressive form of Ryan Germishuys has been a crucial component of the teams winning streak. In the second row Ryan Bezuidenhout makes a return to the side and is expected to enhance the physicality of the side at the breakdown, while Kwaks Ngwanya, after a string of superb second team performances, earns his first start of 2014 at lock. The loose forwards consisting of Jannie Bester at open side, Andrew Wilkins at blind side and Ashley Clarke at eighth man looks set to be the strongest combination picked so far and is expected to lay the platform for the backline to thrive.
Forwards coach Riaan Crous believes the pack have an important role to play on Friday, “The overall look of the pack is a strong one as a result of our in-form front row, the combination of the powerful Bezuidenhout and the agile Ngwanya in the second row and the extremely talented loose forward combination that can wreak havoc if given the chance. But they will have to stand up to the expected physicality of the Rangers forwards if we are to stand any chance of winning.” Crous said.
The backline shows little change from last weekend finally ensuring a measure of continuity that should be evident on Friday night. At scrumhalf the exciting prospect Daniel Anderson starts in place of Jonny Sweetnam who drops to the bench, while Daniel Clarke retains his pace at fly half and is expected to continue his much improved display from last weekend. The impressive centre combination of Brent Sanders and Stuart Pattison has been given a third week together, while James Allderman remains at fullback. The wings show only one change in the form of Donny Venter who comes in for Christo Terblanche, while Jethro Valentine retains his place on the other wing.
The ever passionate backline coach Kirsten Marshall who recently completed the gruelling Sani to Sea Cycle Tour, demands big things from his players “The guys we have available at the moment are unbelievably talented, they possess great vision and skill but will need to be on top form to contain the exciting Rangers backline lead by SA Sevens player Shuaib Samaai. I was impressed with our centre pairing of Sanders and Pattison last week so am looking to them to take the game to Rangers, while our outside backs lead by Allderman looked really good on the front foot.” Kirsten said.
The bench sees the welcomed return of centre David Radloff who has been away on work for the last three games as well as hooker Scott Pitcher who suffered a nasty concussion against Milnerton. Joining them are Ayden Coetzee, Jonny Sweetnam and Eddie Ntaka who all had sterling performances last week but sit on the bench as a result of the rotational policy. Completing the bench is Matthew Rockhill who made a big impact when he came on for Stuart Pattison and Brodie Blows.
“It is always a privilege hosting a side like Rangers at Brookside, they are coached by a bunch of good guys that I met at Milnerton, but I realise Rangers are an ambitious club with a thriving juniors section that has produced many of their current first team players and are not content with remaining in the Super League B nor are they here to make up the numbers. We will need to be extremely focussed for this game as I expect it to be a typically physical encounter.” Coach Gunner Hughes said.
Villager FC looks forward to hosting Rangers RFC and invites all past and present members as well as families and friends of our current players to Brookside on Friday night. Fixtures begin from 7pm with the u20s and 3rds and culminate with the 1st XV game at 9pm.
1st XV vs Rangers RFC:
|Villager 1st XV||Rangers 1st XV||Brookside A||21:00|
|Villager 2nd XV||Rangers 2nd XV||Brookside A||19:45|
|Villager 3rd XV||Rangers 3rd XV||Brookside B||20:00|
|Villager u20||Rangers u20||Brookside B||19:00|