False Bay delivered an early season surprise when they reversed a ten point deficit to narrowly beat their more fancied opponents, Schotshe-Kloof Walmers at Green Point Fields on Saturday. The final score was 11-10 after the Bay trailed 10-3 at the break.
The match, scheduled to take place at SK Walmers’ home base Green Point Track, was shifted to their alternative base at a very late stage, possibly because of the International Food Fair taking place at the nearby CT Stadium. It was a hot and balmy afternoon with an abundance of human activity bringing a buzz to the neighbourhood.
SK Walmers finished sixth in last year’s Super League A competition, while the Bay’s very successful Super League B winning campaign is well documented on these pages.
The contest was of great interest to the Constantia based club’s supporters, as it was an immediate and truer reflection of where False Bay stood than their 8 try romp in a friendly against Helderberg a fortnight earlier.
With the Bay’s three competitive teams already having banked victories, the visitors were quietly hoping for a similar result from their flag bearers. Playing on a narrower field encased by a thick bank of spectators, False Bay seemed to suffer from a lack of cohesion and accuracy in the opening quarter. They tended to play a loose game and seemed to keep the ball alive through at times reckless passes and back flips.
This allowed the home team to settle down and their confidence grew as a result. The fast and elusive Walmers backs posed a very real danger to the visitors as they swooped on dropped passes or passes which invited interception. Veteran maestro, Adnaan Osman opened the scoring for the hosts with a well-taken drop goal.
A few minutes later, the SKW backs counter attacked and flyhalf Shafiek Judaar’s chip over the defences was superbly rounded off with a try in the corner by right wing Jainodien Meyer. The impeccably accurate Osman slotted the conversion from the touchline and the hosts held a 10-0 lead with barely a quarter of an hour gone.
The score seemed to stun the Bay, who settled into a more structured pattern, using their big forwards to good effect. It may have taken them half an hour to strike this form, but the Bay pack then proceeded to dominate the home forwards, bleeding them of energy already sapped by the heat. Their experienced and big front row of SP Blakely, Vlam van Vuuren and Frankie Charlie put them to the sword in the scrums, softening their opponents up for a front row equally as powerful and unrelenting, who took over in the second half.
Behind the dominant Bay pack, the Bay’s own maestro, Ridhaa Damon controlled the game with intelligence. Left wing Taliep Johnson was elusive and full of running. His right wing counterpart, Danie Roux appeared subdued in the first half but made up for his shyness with a second half of powerful running and menacing ball carries.
The SK Walmers pack contested everything, with lock Madeeg Davids in the vanguard. This giant of a man stood back for no one and seemed to singlehandedly stop a number of False Bay’s ominous looking forward drives.
However, as the contest wore on and his energy waned, he lived closer to the line of foul, eventually paying with a yellow card for collapsing a mall. If one was to be critical SKW were perhaps guilty of negative play, slowing the ball down from rucks with impunity and this perhaps allowed them the resources and time to effectively defend their line.
False Bay also had themselves to blame for a stagnant scoreboard. They seemed to employ an erratic policy in terms of when to attempt goal or take touch kicks for penalties. Oddly, the more difficult kicks were attempted as a penalty conversion while the easier attempts were cleared into touch in the hope of scoring a try. Davids ensured that he got in the way of all of False Bay’s drives towards the line and deserves a commendation for his efforts.
The second half saw the Bay introduce a brand new front row as well as a new scrum half. Wesley Chetty, Dane Jans and Jonny Simpson replaced the starting front line while Darren Rix moved in at scrumhalf with Damon moving to fullback. These substitutions proved to be masterful.
The new front row placed enormous pressure on the home side come scrum time and their added mobility served the Bay well in the loose. Young Rix, barely 20 years old, seamlessly stepped into the enormous shoes of Damon, giving nothing on any front.
It was however the performance of Damon at fullback that was simply all masterful class. This man is an educated rugby player, with vision and all the necessary skills from positional play to running skills, even to out of hand kicking. His forty minutes of playing in the number fifteen jersey was thoroughly entertaining and the pivotal performance on which his team’s victory was built. It was off a counter attack from his own half that Damon set up the powerful Roux to score in the corner to take the Bay to within two points of the hosts. Flyhalf Andri Claasens had earlier converted a penalty to reduce Walmers’ lead to seven.
With a few minutes left to play and Claasens having already missed two attempts at goal, False Bay were awarded a penalty about 40 metres from the home tryline. Claasens banished his demons and the all intrusive badgering of the home crowd and slotted the winning kick, albeit one of those that dipped and floated like a prop’s practice attempt.
For False Bay captain Michael Poppmeier was formidable in the lineouts and prominent in the loose. Flanks Justin van Winkel and Lukhanya Nomzanga were industrious and hardworking. The Whittaker brothers Justin and Andrew brought a hard edge to the contact aspect of the contest when they were introduced. Indeed, all the replacements performed exceptionally well as indeed quality replacements do, making this a fine squad effort.
For SK Walmers Osman was class, as was flyhalf Judaar. Davids for the better part of the contest was a colossus.
False Bay travel to Stellenbosch to face Victorians on Saturday. Kick off at the Danie Craven Stadium is at 4pm.