False Bay RFC stood up from a first minute try and early onslaught to subdue a determined home team in their 47-10 victory over Kuils River on Saturday. The half time score was 19-10.
Kuils River demonstrated warm inter-club spirit by agreeing to a minute’s silence before each of the four matches in honour of Bay stalwart, Mark Seaward who had passed away unexpectedly. This was a remarkable gesture as it is rare that a visiting team is granted such a courtesy.
Playing into a stiff breeze blowing squarely behind the backs of the “Kuila”, the Bay fielded the kick off on their 25 and set up a ruck a few metres up, from which flyhalf Andri Claasen had to clear his lines. Fiery flank Earl Johnson had other plans and charged down Claasen’s kick which was pounced upon by fellow loose forward, Chris van Niekerk for the score. Centre Ezran Consul converted and the Bay were reeling.
A few minutes later, the visitors were scrambling as the wind played havoc with an up and under from flyhalf Gareth Pennings, barely escaping another try being scored.
It looked as if the home side, whose lower teams all suffered heavy losses, had a shock in store for the more fancied False Bay.
After the early game jitters, captain Michael Poppmeier seemed to settle his charges and the Bay set about building their victory, which was by no means certain for at least the first half. The Constantia outfit, a wonderful balance of youth and experience, never seemed to panic and stuck to their pattern.
The wind, although not obvious to the spectator, did have an effect when one considered the flight of the out-of-hand kicks and it was obvious that this, as well as the Bay’s conditioning, would be a factor in the second half.
False Bay struck back with a try by scrumhalf Ridhaa Damon, which Claasen converted. The teams were deadlocked for a while until Consul calmly converted a penalty from the tramlines. It was to be the Kuila’s last score of the match.
The Bay played a structured game and as they worked through the phases, Kuils River’s defence seemed to become fractious, with gaps and opportunities opening after phase four or five. The fact that the Constantia boys built up this number of phases and more is testimony to their work rate and accuracy, the latter still a long way from where they would like it. In fact, had they been more accurate in their execution, the score would surely have exceeded the half century mark by far.
Fullback Byron Mohr rounded off an exciting counter attack which started from just inside the Bay half to allow False Bay to take the lead for the first time. Bustling eighthman Andrew Whittaker, who had an outstanding game after replacing the starting scrum anchor, Brent Stevens scored the Bay’s third a few minutes later. Claasen added the conversion to give the half time score of 19-10.
The break brought no certainty of victory to any of the travelling support. In last season’s contests, Kuils River launched late rallies in the second half which had False Bay scrambling to hang onto their lead and this team looked as if they were capable of doing the same. Kuila have an innate passion which never dies and when fanned by even the slightest breeze of hope, ignites a raging fire that is hard for most teams to dampen. When this happens at Jagtershof, that fire is hard to control now matter how good the lead.
False Bay seemed prepared for this and smothered their opponents. Their pack was dominant and it was all too evident in this contest that the new scrum rules, by virtue of interpretation on the day, punishes the dominant scrum. With the Bay front row of Jonny Simpson, Vlam van Vuuren and Wesley Chetty completely in the ascendancy, the Bay found themselves being penalised for a superiority they legally earned.
Nevertheless, this was only one facet of their dominance and their all round superiority started to pay dividends, which began to show on the scoreboard.
The space created by their phase play allowed their backs to attack. They have two very exciting wings in Taliep Johnson and Danie Roux. The former was outstanding as he ran at pace and showed his elusive footwork, eventually being rewarded with a well-deserved try late in the contest. The latter was dogged by a lack of opportunity and one almost felt sorry for him as he was on the receiving end of some passes which limited his threat as an attacking force.
Centre Jason Pretorius, big and strong was another who caught the eye. He possesses the attributes of a quality centre with sound defence and silky attacking skills. Flank Graham Knoop caught the eye with ball in hand, as did lock Ryan Olivier. Both scored tries in the Bay’s seven try spree. As usual, starting flanks Justin van Winkel and Lukhanya Nomzanga were outstanding and replacement prop Frankie Charlie reveled with the ball in hand.
Coach Johnno van der Walt is an honest man and will not fluff over the areas which need attention. Uncharacteristically, the Bay’s lineout was at times wayward and their passing sometimes inaccurate, resulting in lost scoring opportunities. They also turned over too much ball on the ground. These, had Kuils River been able to convert to scoring opportunities, may have caused the ignition of the fire previously alluded to and presented the visitors with a different scenario.
That is harsh speculation and it was the positives of False Bay’s play and preparation which delivered this comprehensive victory. They are a fit, well-coached unit and it is this fitness which will deliver the rewards as the season progresses.
For False Bay, tries by Damon, Mohr, Whittaker, Pretorius, Olivier, Johnson and Knoop. Claasen converted 6 of the tries.
For Kuils River, van Niekerk scored a try which Consul converted as well as a penalty.
False Bay travel to the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday to face the Maties.
Kick off is at 4pm and they invite their supporters to come and show their support.