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Jon Harris

Stor-Age False Bay RFC enter the mid-season break lying third on the Super League A table with their comprehensive defeat of Helderberg at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 41-10 after the Bay held a slender 10-5 lead at the break.


Expected to be a tough forward battle, the contest did not disappoint as the big visiting forwards fronted up to the much-vaunted False Bay pack. They contested every ruck and maul with hunger and their backs showed an equal desire to perform when given the ball. False Bay too were not about to be upstaged in any facet and gave as good as they got from their guests.


The home side patiently absorbed the Helderberg assault, confident in their game plan and, as later became apparent, the expected onset of rubber legs as the pace of the game took its toll on the bulky visitors. The visitors hustled and hampered the home side especially at the breakdown assisted by a fortunate freedom to cross the off-side line unchecked,  inspiring the boys from the Strand and they appeared capable of an upset on the day.


It was fitting that hooker Vlam van Vuuren should score the Bay’s first try on the day. Playing in his 100th First XV match for the club, he was his usual self, carrying the ball powerfully and a fearsome presence on defence. Minutes later elusive wing Taliep Johnson scored the first in his hat trick of tries after a trademark zig zag run of about 40 metres. The home side were ten points to the better and things looked ominous for the visitors.


They are made of far sterner stuff however and the two conversions left on the field by Bay flyhalf Andri Claasen made the scoreline look a little vulnerable when left wing Armien Bailey scored at the end of an exciting counter attack. Claasens’ counterpart, Nico van der Westhuizen appeared in no truer form, himself missing two conversion attempts.


After the restart False Bay scored a try through eighthman Ryan Olivier and immediately relinquished the advantage of the score when they fluffed the kick off gather. Helderberg flank Wikus van Staden snatched the dropped ball and scored after a bullocking run and driving assist from his pack, covering all of 30 metres.


False Bay stuck to their game and exerted pressure on their opponents through their set pieces. Captain Michael Poppmeier and fellow lock Graham Knoop disrupted the Helderberg lineout throughout the match. The ploy of absorbing the Helderberg pressure until they ran out of puff worked perfectly and the breach of the off side line at the breakdown gave the visitors further advantage as they appeared to match the home side up front while their fitness still lasted.


The Constantia outfit began to make deep inroads into their opponents territory as the match progressed and by the last quarter they were running willy-nilly at their lines, thriving on the space created. Johnson was wreaking havoc every time he had the ball, his opposing winger seemingly unable to deal with his deft footwork and ability to change direction on a coin. Indeed both Bay wings thrived on the space created by the Bay backline, especially the straight running of centres Jason Pretorius and Jaques van Staden and fullback Byron Mohr’s telling insertions into the Bay line.


The second half was an entirely different affair. The Bay forwards began to dominate all phases with Knoop at the forefront, ball in hand and difficult to contain. Alongside him, Olivier showed he had recovered from the flu which had hampered him in the last match on the way to turning in another impressive performance and bagging a brace of tries in the process.


By the start of the fourth quarter, False Bay were in complete control and almost toying with their tired opponents who, when given the chance, still summoned the energy to counter attack and launch themselves at the Bay lines. It was in the structure of defence that the fatigue showed and the gaps opened for False Bay to exploit. Their  seventh and last try demonstrated this perfectly as they launched a counter attack which had started in their own half, the ball passing through numerous pairs of hands before Johnson crossed for his third try.


With about seven minutes of play left, Helderberg centre Jaques Rossouw appeared to suffer a serious injury. With the result a fait accomplii and Helderberg still needing an unlikely two tries for a bonus point, the officials decided that in the cold winter evening the risk of further injury was a consideration and an end was called to the contest.


False Bay’s seven tries came from centurion van Vuuren, Johnson (3), Olivier (2) and Knoop. Claasens converted three.


Helderberg scored tries through Bailey and van Staden.


The WP Club Rugby season enters a month-long hiatus. Stor-Age False Bay play their next match on 19 July when they host Hamiltons at Constantia.


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