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It was a tussle worthy of that between two top teams in the league and it silenced a large crowd in the dying minutes, but hosts Motovaps False Bay RFC held onto their narrow lead for a 23-21 win over Durbanville Bellville at Constantia on Saturday. The hosts led 10-7 at the break.


With both sides unbeaten to that stage, and a long history of close rivalry serving as extra motivation, hundreds of spectators flocked to the Phillip Herbstein Fields, with five matches on the programme. The main curtain-raiser was a Currie Cup encounter between the Zimbabwe Goshawks and Boland, itself a tight and entertaining affair, which saw Zimbabwe register their first win since 2016.


The hosting of this match meant that the usual supporting act, The Bay Second XV, shifted to the B-field. Like the main encounter, this match produced high quality, thrilling rugby and False Bay exited the pitch 26-15 victors.


Durbell, having competed in an “unofficial Club Championships” over Easter Weekend, had seen more high quality action than their hosts, who had a stop-start run up to this match. The Durbell pack, enormous in height, bulk and physique, were obviously out to muscle their opponents but they surprised with their expansive play, centre Jacquin Marthinus simply outstanding on the day. A glance at their pack and one would have been forgiven if one assumed that the second half would be a challenge for the visitors. Their tight five were loose around the waist and seemingly out of condition, but coach Warren Petersen had perhaps sold the perfect dummy, as the last quarter of the match played out.


It was The Bay who opened scoring with a maiden try in amongst a rolling maul by hooker Kamva Mgwali, his delight at the score as enthralling to see as the score. Flyhalf Ewan Adams, who again shone in the contest, converted for the goal.


The irony of this contest is that despite the lack of daylight in the final score, action was continuous with few highlights. It would be more accurate to say that most of the action were highlights which contributed to the spectacle. One area of brutal conflict was the front row. A part of the strategy of big, heavy forwards in the first half hour appeared to be to soften the home side forwards up a little. False Bay’s front row, dominant in previous encounters, met up with two powerful scrumming front rows which ensured a split of the spoils, if not the edge going to the visitors. The tight-loose upfront was another area of close contest, and here flank Lukanyo Nomzanga, locks Busanda Mabena and Ettienne Oosthuizen and eighthman Ryan Olivier, who guided his pack impressively, shone for the Constantia boys.


The visiting forwards were impressive. Replacement hooker Adriaan Staples, certainly raised the tempo up front when he joined the fray in the second quarter. Flank Rubin Venter, lock George Olivier, both of whom scored tries, caught the eye throughout.


In the backs the Durbell flyhalf, lanky Lohan Lubbe, impressed. For False Bay, fullback Mustaqeem Jappie, wings Danie Roux and Chadleigh Cloete, and scrumhalf Niyaaz Johnson and later, Dylon Frylinck, were industrious and exciting on both attack and defence.


It was the second half however, which will be remembered, if only for the drama and tension the build-up to the final whistle produced. False Bay extended their narrow three-point half time lead when replacement hooker, Liam Larkin crashed over at the back of a rolling maul, in turn his maiden try on his debut. Indeed, it appeared as if False Bay’s coaching panel had discovered a chink in the visitors lineout armour, both their tries coming from lineout mauls. Adams converted the try and later a penalty to give his team a thirteen point lead and local support would have been forgiven to think that a steady stream of points may follow, considering the apparent lack of 80-minute conditioning of the visitors.


That was not to be, and Durbell’s bluff was effected. Their bench, particularly amongst the forwards, were fully introduced by now, and took the game to their hosts. With the wind at their backs they proceeded to exert territorial pressure and spent prolonged periods in the Bay half. Marthinus, a powerful runner difficult to contain,  crashed over for a try, goaled by Lubbe and the lead shrunk to within a goal. With the wind in their face and a rampant Durbell on their back, The Bay’s resolve needed to stand firm. Adams extended his team’s lead to nine points with a penalty, a crucial gap as it turned out.


Durbell had the taste of victory in their mouth and launched attack after attack on The Bay line, eventually breaching it when flank Venter crashed over for a try and Lubbe converted.


The cold afternoon just got colder. Visiting supporters fell silent as, their mental inspiration to their team occupying their thoughts, while their False Bay counterparts simply gave way to the silence of a nervous situation and willed the final whistle on. The Bay stood firm and referee Dylan Francke, who had a good game, called an end to an enthralling encounter, and in the process a start to home club celebrations.


The Bay travel to Parow to take on NTK on Saturday, however there will be action at Constantia as the False Bay Women’s team host the Royal Navy. The Bay Women play an entertaining brand of 15s rugby and it will be well worth the effort to pop down to the club and deliver a warm Cape Town welcome to the visitors from the Royal Navy. Kick-off is at 1pm.

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