BAY BOUNCE BACK & BEAT BELHAR
by Jon Harris
STOR-AGE False Bay RFC, fresh from a near-giant killing performance against the Maties last week, continued their strong form with a convincing win over visitors, Belhar at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 32-20 after the visitors led 10-8 at the break.
After the disappointment of losing a game that by all opinion was theirs, motivation to emulate that performance may well have been in short supply. The team had clearly prepared well for their first home match which had the added allure being wing Danie Roux’s fiftieth First XV cap.
The first half was a low intensity affair as both sides seemed to feel their way around their opposition. Belhar were expected to run at False Bay from all angles and positions on the pitch and at times this did happen but not to the extent one would have expected from a backline as talented as theirs. By contrast, the Bay seemed to pace their guests, saving themselves for a sprint to the line.
Indeed it took fully a half an hour for the opening score when Belhar flyhalf Adrian Roberts goaled a penalty for his team to take the lead. Counterpart Andri Claasen struck back for the Bay with a penalty of his own. False Bay took the lead for the first time in the contest when flying wing Taliep Johnson scored the first of his three tries on the day.
Almost immediately Roberts, who scored all of his team’s points on the day, intercepted a pass on the False Bay ten metre line and cantered over for a gift try. This was a harsh reminder to the Constantia outfit that loose play would not go unpunished and tightened the knots in the stomachs of the Bay support exponentially.
Whatever was said in the halftime huddle seemed to have an effect on the home team. They came out far more focused. Where their first half was peppered with inaccurate passes and basic errors, their execution improved somewhat as did their intensity, which the visitors appeared to struggle to contain. The powerful False Bay forwards started to deliver a far more commanding performance, not that their first half was under par. Instead they drove with more authority, gaining yards in the process, complementing their uncompromising defence and superiority in the lineout.
Johnson scored his second soon after the restart. This wing has pace aplenty and possesses a sidestep which can cause whiplash. In full cry he is exciting and a perfect foil for his wing partner Roux, who is more combative by nature.
The Bay machine was beginning to roll smoothly. Big forwards such as Ryan Olivier, Michael Poppmeier, Graham Knoop and Vlam van Vuuren were starting to punch holes in the Belhar defence. Flank Lukhanya Nomzanga is in sublime form, his bone-crunching tackles causing the spectators to whince with his ball carries equally as effective. This superiority opened space and opportunity. Olivier, at eighthman crashed over from a set piece under the poles. Claasen converted and the Bay ejoyed a ten point lead.
Belhar’s Roberts was having none of the talk of capitulation and reduced the deficit to three with his second try and conversion.
In the fourth quarter, one got the feeling that if the Bay could score a try it would break the back of the spirited Belhar team. Johnson delivered that moment with a 40 metre elusive run to the line for his third try, his team’s bonus point fourth, which Claasen converted. Replacement scrumhalf Darren Rix scored his maiden SLA try a few minutes later.
Respected referee Jonathan Kaplan officiated on the day and as a measure of the regard in which he is held, the questioning of decisions by players was virtually non-existent. His relaxed style of being an unobtrusive adjudicator allowed the game to flow, where all too often stoppages break the momentum of proceedings. Belhar did appear to enjoy leeway in terms of the offside line courtesy of this approach and had he been more pedantic, they would have suffered an increased number of penalties and subsequently points. It was a pleasure to watch this master of the whistle and the SLA is blessed with his presence.
Standout players for STOR-AGE False Bay were Olivier for his carries, Nomzanga for his uncompromising presence on the ball, Poppmeier and Knoop for their lineout work and tight loose. In the backs Ridhaa Damon delivered his customary master performance, centre Jaques van Staden looked strong on attack as did Roux and Johnson. Centre Jason Pretorius showed class before his early departure and his replacement Angelo MacKaiser caught the eye with his workrate uon entering the contest. Belhars’s Roberts brothers, Adrian and Cheslin on the wing stood out for their team.
For STOR-AGE False Bay Johnson (3), Olivier and Rix scored tries. Claasen converted two as well as a penalty. Adrian Roberts scored two tries, two conversions and two penalties.
STOR-AGE False Bay travel to Durbanville on Friday night. Kick off is at 9pm with first games starting at 6.30pm.