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In a highly entertaining match played at the Phillip Herbstein Fields in Constantia, Motovaps False Bay RFC fell just a few points short of surprising their visitors, Stellenbosch University. The final score was 22-19 to the students after the hosts led 12-10 at half time.


Two years ago, when the Bay last hosted Maties in the Super League A, the Constantia club delivered a whitewash as all four teams facing the Maties on the day, delivered wins. By the time the referee started the main contest, Motovaps False Bay had won all the three matches against the Maties on the day. The day started with an emphatic win by the False Bay Under 20 A team, which retained their unbeaten record for the season with an emphatic 27-5 win.


The day of rugby was played in beautifully sunny Autumn weather, enthusiastically absorbed by a large crowd which framed the field along all four borderlines. The atmosphere was electric, the spirit convivial, and the quality of the rugby of an outstanding quality, an advertisement for the club game in the Cape.


Stellenbosch, big and powerful up front, with a pacy backline, proved to play a more traditional game of using the forwards to create some space off first phase ball. Their scrums and lineouts were areas of dominance, the former ironically an area of strength of False Bay. Within the opening three minutes, Motovaps False Bay relinquished a free kick off a scrum on their quarter line. Quick thinking scrumhalf, Warwick Jones sniped while the packs were still disengaging, it was so quick. He headed up the right flank, play swayed back to the left touchline and again right, where wing Riaan de Lange, a constant threat throughout the contest, opened his team’s scoresheet.


It was a try of efficient execution and it had the mainly False Bay partisan crowd mumbling in surprise. It also had the effect of instilling some concern in said crowd that if the Bay did not lean down and pull up their socks, it could easily be a long afternoon. That concern was unfounded as the Constantia boys took the game to their guest. Playing a game almost the opposite of the Maties, one of spreading the ball, rapid inter-passing and changes of direction, which had the Stellenbosch on the back foot. When the students had ball in hand and tried to run at their hosts, False Bay’s rush defense stymied any enterprise Maties may have planned to display.


After conceding the de Lange try, False Bay struck back when lock Joh du Toit raced through a gaping hole in the defensive line to swan-dive for a try, which fullback Ewan Adams converted. That vibrant crowd were now brisling with confidence, even after Maties flank Edrich Viljoen crashed over for the first of his brace of tries, to give his team the lead.


Maties, with a massive pack of forwards, began to dominate the set pieces. Their tight five were impressive in the primary phases. After the first half hour, where scrum laurels were probably shared, the students began to exert tremendous pressure on Motovaps False Bay’s very effective scrum, to dominate this phase. In the lineouts, lock Matt Grey was a tower of strength. Yet False Bay never wilted. They took the game to the students, running at them, changing direction and inter-passing to wrongfoot the defense. False Bay’s own lineout was steady, lock du Toit and eightman Shaine Ordison securing quality possession.


Trailing by three points, the Bay were slicing through the Maties defenses, the pace of their game beginning to influence the students, ironic considering that university rugby is renowned for its pace. Perhaps it was the gamble of fielding a massive pack instructing with a policy of subdue and contain, who were beginning to puff a bit as the half progressed. Perhaps it was the change in tactics introduced, where the kick and charge game prevalent in their previous matches, was now replaced by a very effective and mostly accurately executed running game plan.


Whatever the reason, the home side took first half spoils when centre Darren Jaftha soared up the left sideline to score, a try converted by Adams.


Forty minutes of a second half to come, and a slender two-point lead meant that the hordes of supporters were guaranteed a nail-bighting remainder to this exciting contest. Maties found themselves in the False Bay half, gifted with the yellow card expulsion of a pillar of their defense, Lukhanyo Nomzanga. A five-metre scrum to Maties saw the keen-eyed Jones, who had played a pivotal role in his team’s first try, stepped inside a wing retreaded to pack down at flank for the all-important set-down, to waltz over the line, which flyhalf Tommy Smook converted.


Again, a nervous mood descended over the grounds, but Motovaps False Bay never capitulated. Keeping focused on the execution of the game plan, they attacked the Maties defencive line, only to be repelled time and again. The visitors struck what appeared to be the final blow when flank Viljoen crashed over in play resulting from a scrum. The score gave Maties a ten-point lead with no more than five minutes to play. All too often Maties turn the screws on their older opponents with their 80 plus minute game, adding daylight to the scoreboard in the closing stages. The boot was on the other foot this time as False Bay narrowed the left-wing Daniel Hayes streaked in for a try in the corner, crowning an exciting Bay counterattack. Replacement flyhalf, Dylan Frylinck calmly dissected the poles to reduce the Maties lead to three points.


It was a nervous two minutes to the final whistle for the Maties, as displayed in the tired raising of the arms by some of their warriors. Whatever the interpretation of these gestures, the score probably fairly reflected the result, although the romantics in attendance would probably have preferred a draw. One thing was sure, the quality and suspense of the contest contributed to an outstanding day at False Bay.


This Saturday, Motovaps False Bay are at home again when they host Kuils River. The U20As start the day at 1.25pm. Entry is R20 per adult and per car. Scholars enter free of charge. All are welcome.

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