After losing two on the trot against teams they could have, and possibly should have won against, Villager FC now face a momentous battle to regain their foothold on the top of the WP SLB Log, as well as keep their promotion hopes alive, when they face off against the “Other Villagers” at Brookside on Friday night. Kick-off is at 21h00.
With their losses to St George’s and Hamlets in successive weekends, the question is on everyone’s lips: Can Villagers pull it off? In losing those two games, the league which at one stage looked to be a two horse race between Villager and Sir Lowrians, is now wide open with up to five teams now vying for the top three spots. It is no exaggeration that this weekend is hugely important for those five clubs, the results will have a huge bearing on the final log standings and who gains promotion or not. However what does not change is that Villager still controls their destiny and can still finish in pole position should they claim two bonus point wins over the next two weekends.
Although there are numerous other permutations to the log depending on a wide variety of factors, the fact remains that Villager will need to win their last two games to secure their place in the SLA next year. However with Pniel Villagers and Sir Lowrians on the horizon, Andrew Hughes’s charges will need to be ruthlessly effective for an entire eighty minutes.
“Without a doubt we let ourselves down last weekend at crucial moments in Mamre, but if you consider where we were last year, the fact that we are still in contention for promotion is a huge achievement already,” says Hughes. “As a club we have been phenomenal this year, yes we have a very good first team and possibly should have won the last two games, but I am massively proud of where Villager is at the moment.”
Whilst some may believe Villager is content with their current lot, Hughes believes otherwise. “Without sounding defeatist, I don’t believe there is any pressure on the team tonight,” says Hughes. “When my staff and I came to this club we had a three year plan to turn this club around and if we gain promotion this year then great, but we are building for a sustainable future where we will not only remain in the SLA but be competitive too. There is no point gaining promotion into the SLA one year, only to slide back down again the next. A club is built on more than just the 1st XV, the u20s and thirds are just as important, if not more so.”
With that being said, Villager is intent on turning their recent results around, but their job will be made that much more difficult without the services of livewire flanker Jannie Bester, fullback James Allderman and centre/wing Brent Sanders, who are all missing for the second week in a row. However with the presence of the veterans, Troy Lee, Oupa Williams, Andrew Wilkins and Ashley Clarke in the forwards and the experience of Tim Marsh, Stuart Pattison, David Radloff and Blane Hansen in the backline, Villager still boasts enough firepower to get the job done.
However for Villager to overcome the expected physical onslaught from Pniel, the youngsters in the side will need to not only handle the pressure but to be able to hit back with a ferocity that has perhaps been lacking from the Brooksider’s game of late. Although Villager does rely heavily on the experienced players, it is the younger generation who will need to make their presence felt too if they are to finish the season the way it started.
If one considers the vast improvements made by forwards Scott Pitcher, Adrian Cleophas, Kwaks Ngwanya and Brodie Blows this year, there is no reason why they all cannot develop into great Villager players in time. It is testament to their character and capabilities that they have become the players they are today, their passionate style of play bodes well for the future, but they will need to be more than passionate tonight if Villager are to triumph. Whilst Ryan Germishuys, who has already stamped his mark on the club via his devastating runs with ball in hand, needs to be just as devastating in all facets of play to become the player the Brookside faithful know he can be.
Whilst the youngsters in the backline, ably directed by scrumhalf Daniel Anderson, has all the potential needed to become one of the better units in club rugby. Jethro Valentine’s skilfulness is unrivalled, whilst James Allderman, although out injured, has a bright future ahead. Although shuffled between his preferred position of scrumhalf and wing, Christo Terblanche’s uncanny ability of evading defenders and reading the game is testament to his talents, whilst Brent Sanders, who is currently overseas, is perfectly placed to make the centre position his own in the coming years.
As is always the case the bench represents more than merely seven sullen players watching the game from the side line, they represent the strength of the club as a whole. The stronger the bench the stronger the club’s depth is. When one considers last year’s 1st XV did not have a bench for the majority of the season, Villager are in a much better space as a club to still be able to call upon players such as Adrian Cleophas, Ayden Coetzee, Luke Westgarth Taylor and Eddie Ntaka in the forwards as well as Geoff Van Ryneveldt, Gary Mundel and Neil Du Toit in the backs, says a lot about the changes the club has experienced this year.
Villager FC looks forward to welcoming Pniel Villagers and their supporters to Brookside tonight, all games promise to be hard fought affairs with much to play for. The 2nd XV fixture will be an interesting one to watch as the fight to finish first comes down to the wire, whilst the main game at 21h00 looks set to be one of the most explosive this year as Villager FC need the win, whilst Pniel are still in the hunt to finish third, the last promotion position albeit in a play-off game.
We encourage all Villager FC members to join us tonight at Brookside for the penultimate game of the league season; we need all the support we can get at such a vital juncture in the clubs history.
Villager FC vs Pniel Villagers RFC
1. Troy Lee 2. Scott Pitcher 3. Ryan Germishuys 4. Richard Williams 5. Kwaks Ngwanya 6. Brodie Blows 7. Andrew Wilkins 8. Ashley Clarke (CPT) 9. Daniel Anderson10. Tim Marsh 11. Blane Hansen 12. David Radloff 13. Stuart Pattison (V/C) 14. Christo Terblanche 15. Jethro Valentine
Fixtures vs Pniel Villagers RFC:
|Villager FC 1st XV||Pniel Villagers 1st XV||Brookside ‘A’||21:00|
|Villager FC 2nd XV||Pniel Villagers 2nd XV||Brookside ‘A’||19:45|
|Villager FC 3rd XV||Pniel Villagers 3rd XV||Brookside ‘B’||19:35|
|Villager FC u20||Pniel Villagers u20||Brookside ‘B’||18:30|