BAY BLAST INTO GOLD CUP KNOCKOUTS
8 October 2016
Photos: Gavin Withers Photography
DirectAxis False Bay RFC qualified for the knockout stages of the Gold Cup when they blew away a game White River 94-7 at Constantia on Saturday. The half time scoreboard read 47-0.
Needing victory to secure second spot in their pool, the Bay were hoping for something of a miracle to secure a home quarter-final. Pool-leaders, Brakpan were hosting the Bay’s newly adopted rugby cousins, Old Georgians of Harare at their ominously nicknamed Highveld home, “The House of Pain” and a Zimbabwean victory would have suited the Constantia club perfectly.
It was not to be however and the Bay now travel to Pretoria to face Pretoria Police at Loftus Versveld, a curtain-raiser to the Western Province versus Blue Bulls Currie Cup encounter.
Lowveld champions, White River arrived in the Cape confident in their capabilities and ready to deliver a shock result. By contrast DirectAxis False Bay were refreshed from a timeous bye and were keen to deliver a convincing performance, all too aware of the need to bolster their points difference just in case the Harareans caught the “Panners” on an off day. Unfortunately for the likeable men from Nelspruit, they met a False Bay outfit which produced some of their best rugby this season for eighty minutes of an entertaining contest.
The Bay’s intent was obvious from the outset. Spread the ball wide, clear the ruck quickly and play at a pace which would have the visiting forwards gasping for breath and it worked perfectly, their forwards gaining ascendancy from the outset and the Bay backs shredding the visiting defences at will. Here centre Riaan O’Neill stood out amongst a group of standouts, as he scythed through the White River line, using pace and clever running lines to good effect. Outside him, wing Danie Roux revelled in the space and between them these two scored nine of the Bay’s fourteen tries.
An unsung hero in most of False Bay’s performances has been lock and captain Graham “Snoopy” Knoop and he was simply outstanding on Saturday. His early pilfers of opposition lineouts compounded the pressure they felt and his powerful ball carries set the tone for his team mates up front.
The Nelspruit outfit were by no means innocent bystanders, never giving up and the manner in which they started the second half epitomised their approach to the game and they were rewarded with a try by burly centre Dewald Pretorius.
Despite the lopsided scoreline the crowd were treated to a very entertaining rugby spectacle, none the less through the calm handling and presence of one of South Africa’s top referees, Rasta Rashivenga. It is an encouraging endorsement of the quality of the Gold Cup that the country’s top referees are grabbing the opportunity to be involved on the pitch, Craig Joubert having refereed a previous match in Durban. Rashivenga’s firm control and clear communication contributed to the spectacle in no small measure.
No matter their further progress in this competition, False Bay’s success has been remarkable, hard-earned and well-deserved. "You don't just have or build a good team and go out and win a League, it doesn't work like that”, says Knoop. “Nor is it ever the right time or the so called ‘your year’. That's nonsense”, he continues. “One slip up in the Super A League and you're out of the running. We focus on the small things, and trust that winning will be an eventual by-product.
“The Gold Cup holds unfamiliar challenges for us. Grounds we've never played at; teams we've never seen; crowds; referees and touch judges we've never encountered, and these elements can play a massive role in determining the outcome of a match, even if you are at your best. So with this understanding we continue to focus on the small things and try to get them right.
“The Gold Cup is an incredible competition and we fully appreciate the opportunity in front of us", he says.
Meanwhile False Bay’s Sevens team got their WP Sevens Series off to a winning start at Goodwood Sports Ground on Saturday. Pieter Benade’s “Blitzbay” won all of their three matches and hope to continue this form throughout the tournament over the next five weeks. The next round takes place at the same venue on Saturday.
DirectAxis False Bay’s quarterfinal match at Loftus Versveld will be televised by Supersport on Channel 197. Kick off is at 3.10pm.
Scribe: Jon Harris