Setting the Norm

Norman Henshilwood's Dexter McLachlan tries to shake Plumstead's Leighton Bell during their match last week.

Norman Henshilwood High School’s first rugby team came out tops in a fiery derby affair against Plumstead High in a Western Province 2A league match, at the weekend.

Normies coach Mogamat Jakoet said they anticipated a tough match against their longtime rivals, and that everything went according to plan for his side.

Meanwhile, Plumstead coach Neville Foster said he had hoped his boys in red and green would click and pull it together, but they lacked in the final pass and couldn’t capitalise on their chances.

On the day, Norman Henshilwood’s under-14, 15 and 18 teams clashed with Plumstead. The under-14 and 15s lost 14-7 and 24-0, respectively, and the under-18 first team won 24-5.

“Derby matches are always unpredictable and tough. And, we had a lot of preparation done in the week leading up to the match.

“Some of the key things were getting the ball through the hands, letting the ball do the work and ensuring that our rucking is effective,” said Jakoet.

“Even though we were locked at 5-5 at the break, we played most of the rugby and it was just a matter of time that the boys started to click. It was good to see them run out in the second half and execute what we drilled at training. The line-outs worked in our favour because we were effective. We stole five of their line-outs and we dominated in the scrum,” he said.

Normies gear up to host Melkbosstrand High on Saturday August 13, and Jakoet said they will start with preparations on Friday.

“Again, we will look to starve our opponents of possession. Keep it tight and let our backs do the work. Leading up to this game, we’ll be doing a bonding session from Friday and the players will be sleeping at the school.

“We’ll be having a couple of training sessions and team building exercises,” he said.

For Plumstead, Foster said they went into derby hoping to implement their own style of play because they knew nothing about their opposition.

“We’ve always had a close rivalry with them. This was the first game we played against them this year, and we usually play a friendly pre-season match,” said Foster.

“It’s always difficult to assess school opposition because the team dynamics change every year. But, I know their coach Jakoet very well and predicted he would instruct his players to play the ball up with the forwards and swing it out wide.

“Before the game I told the boys to look to tackle up front with the forwards before we change our tactics. But, things just didn’t go our way on the day.

“We created our chances but we never took it, and they punished us when they had theirs. Going into the break we still had a good chance, but they were the better team and ran away with it,” he said.

Last week, Plumstead High hosted English touring side Calday Grange Grammer School, but lost 37-5 to a very physical team.

Foster, who has an abundance of rugby experience under his belt, said the boys are going through a rough patch and they need to stay focused.

“I’ve been involved in the sport for many years. I played under Nick Mallett when I was at False Bay RFC.

“I’ve been at the school for the past 12 years and got involved because my sons attended the school,” said Foster.

“It’s difficult to build and have a consistent first team because every year the team changes. We are trying to develop some of the younger players and play them earlier in the first team, but it’s tough in the under-18 league because it’s very physical.

“There have been years when we’ve done really well. For next year, we will start the pre-season early and try to bulk up the current under-16 players because they all very small,” he said.

Plumstead High’s first team have no fixture scheduled for this weekend, and will look to take full advantage of this as they regroup to face Scottsville High, next weekend.