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In the second of their Varsity tests, DirectAxis False Bay RFC suffered a somewhat surprising 39-18 defeat to Maties at Stellenbosch on Saturday. The Bay trailed 18-19 at the break.


The encounter was a much anticipated clash, the Maties hitherto unbeaten in their nine matches to date. The Varsity Cup Champions had enjoyed an extended break from rugby which left them with a torturous schedule to complete eight matches in four weeks, although cynics would say that their dept has been bolstered by the absence of their Victorians club draining their depth. That is a frivolous diversionary comment, the match proof that both teams were committed to the contest, the result delivering worthy victors.


With a large crowd in attendance, the Bay took to the pitch for the first time this season having their Seconds, Thirds and Under 21 teams all on the losing side, the senior teams dropping their unbeaten tags in very close encounters. Thabo Ngcongo’s warriors steely-eyed and determined to take the game to their opponents. This they did with physical forward play and expansive running in the backs.


The Bay’s scrum, back to full strength dealt well with their younger opponents, overshadowing them in this phase. This may have been a contributing factor to the rather odd and out of character behaviour of some of their front row warriors, who sometimes focussed on the man instead of the ball, off the ball skirmishes flaring up on occasion. To be fair, the students needed to show their battle-scarred, wisened opponents that they were by no means pushovers, all too often the youth of university teams exploited by the older players on the Club rugby circuit.


False Bay flyhalf, Ewan Adam opened his team’s scoring with a break close to the line, converting his own try. He later added a penalty to keep his name as the sole False Bay points scorer. Maties, never a team to stand back and ponder what went wrong, stuck to their game, flyhalf Reinard Fortuin unleashing his backline with crisp distribution or testing the advantage line himself. They struck back with a try by fullback Adriaan van der Bank, who converted to reduce False Bay’s lead to three points.


The Bay, spreading the ball to give their backline some space stunned their opponents with a well-executed try by wing Mustaqeem Jappie, a fifty-metre counter attack which enthralled even the most diehard of the opposition fans. Adam later added two penalties to his tally, to give the Bay their eighteen-point first half haul.


All the while the Stellenbosch students stuck to their structure and game plan, hot on the heels of the Bay. Fortuin scored a try, duly converted by the accurate van der Bank, and Maties were a mere six points behind their guests with the half time break approaching. The Bay would have valued that lead changing sides, but it was not to be as Maties eighthman Joe Swart scored under the poles, and van der Bank gave his team the lead with the conversion. Swart, a classical number eight, roaming the field in defence and attack was one of Stellenbosch’s outstanding players on the day.


A one-point difference at the break and the second half promised to be another closely contested, physical and entertaining forty minutes of quality rugby.


That it was, the difference being the ability of the students to finish off their plays and accumulate points in the process. By their own admission, False Bay were inaccurate in this department, and frustration followed.


With the score at 32-18, not only diehard Bay fans, there in numbers, were of the belief that two goals were possible to equalise and position themselves for a stolen victory. False Bay were relentless in their attack, enjoying territorial advantage and exerting pressure on their opponents, which converted into penalisable transgressions. Those much-desired tries were not to be, solid defence which stunted the Bay’s attacks and aggressive primary phase play by the students, blunted the Bay’s attacks and the final nail was slammed into place with a fifty metre try at the death.


False Bay are joint second on the SLA table and play their final match, the third consecutive match against students on Saturday. They host a determined and talented University of Western Cape at Constantia and although the students will be playing their second tough match in four days (they faced Maties last night), UWC will arrive confident of their chances, their exciting brand of rugby enough to challenge the hosts.


First games kick off at 1.30, with the main game starting at 4pm.

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