Fresh from their second win in the competition, Trying Stars face what will certainly be their biggest challenge of the season when they travel to Despatch to face the logleaders in the EP Grand Challenge on Saturday (May 16).
The Alexandria rookies stunned the more fancied Uitenhage side Progress 39-15 in Alex last weekend, with wing Raymond Daries crossing for an impressive four tries. Naturally, his finishing played a major role, but in their first season in the top flight, Stars have not been disgraced as a team.
They put up a fight in losing their opening match 45-27 to PE SAPS and then beat fellow-newcomers Windvogel 20-15.
Reflecting on their progress so far, club president Neil Wentzel said their objective for the season was to maintain their status in the top-flight of EP domestic rugby and they were looking no further than the next game.
“What we do after each game is that we put that match behind us and then place our focus only on the next match,” Wentzel said. “We have had a good run, but we are determined to take it just one match at a time.”
Formed in 1969 in Alexandria, Wentzel said many of their players, who came from rural areas, were unemployed and extremely poor but that they all had a huge passion for rugby.
“Playing the game is a chance for us to keep our boys off the streets and to give them something positive to do,” Wentzel said. “We are enjoying the challenge of playing in the Grand Challenge, but we know the match against Despatch is going to be tough.
“But we go out each week determined to give a good account of ourselves and that is what we will be doing against Despatch on Saturday.”
Despatch’s smallest winning margin this season has been by 34 points when they beat Spring Rose 45-11. Rose are the only team to have kept the top dogs to under 60 points so far and that says it all for the challenge which looms for Trying Stars.
Progress, meanwhile, will be trying to get back on the horse when they host Harlequins at the Central field in Uitenhage and know it will be no easy task against the visitors. The Uitenhage outfit have been patchy this season, having won two and lost two, while Quins are starting to pick up some momentum.
PE SAPS, the only unbeaten team along with Despatch, face one of their tougher matches of the season when they host Gardens at Kemsley Park. While the policemen were competing in the Community Cup, Gardens reached the final of the Eastern Cape Super 12 competition and will be looking to show their worth after losing the title encounter to EL Police.
The PE team will certainly start as favourites, but Gardens will be fresh after a week’s break and they will be looking to add to their two victories so far this season.
NMMU Madibaz look to be back on track after beating the Brumbies 33-10 in Grahamstown and will fancy their chances against the visiting Park team. After a narrow win over Brumbies in their opening encounter, Park have slipped to two defeats in a row and it will take a big effort to upset the varsity side.
Windvogel will be looking for their first win in a home game against the Brumbies, while Crusaders could feel the backlash at Saders when they take on a Kruisfontein outfit, hurting from the Despatch hiding last week.
In the remaining game, Spring Rose will be aiming to make it four wins in five games against African Bombers, who, by comparison, have been struggling with only one victory in four matches.
The fixtures (kick-off 3.30pm) are: Windvogel v Brumbies at Windvogel, NMMU v Park at South Campus, SAPS v Gardens at Kemsley Park, Progress v Harlequins at Central field, Despatch v Trying Stars in Despatch, Crusaders v Kruisfontein at Saders, African Bombers v Spring Rose in Zwide.
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