BAY HEADN FOR GOLD CUP
9 AUGUST 2017
Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography
False Bay RFC qualified for Gold Cup 2017 when they won their last two league matches, played over five days last week. The Bay first dispatched Brackenfell 43-10 last Saturday and then sent UWC packing in similar fashion five days later. The score at the University of the Western Cape was 46-20.
Needing six league points from the two matches to end the challenge of rivals Hamiltons's challenge for the coveted Gold Cup spot, the Constantia outfit bagged a full house of ten points and in the process nullified the Sea Point's clubs efforts to contest the National Club Championship which starts on 9 September.
The Bay's last two matches posed something of a challenge for them as both teams are by no means the whipping boys of the SLA and one false step would have allowed the ever-present Hamiltons a chance to wrest Gold Cup qualifying honours from them. Coach Johno van der Walt kept his charges focused on the task at hand, and delivered a full house of points from these two tricky outings, in the process leaving Bay followers wondering why the concern in the first place.
First up was Brackenfell who appeared to be swamped by the Bay in the first half before mounting a third-quarter rally wherein they showed their quality before the Constantia team delivered a fourth-quarter reminder of their power. Five days later in blustery, chilly conditions on the UWC campus, False Bay secured the one point they needed to qualify for the Gold Cup early in the second half of a game which they dominated from beginning to end, going on to take all five league points on offer on the day. The students were by no means absent, delivering entertaining rugby which earned them a four-try bonus point.
False Bay now repeat last season's demanding test of their depth as they compete in not one but two end-of-season competitions as they contest the President's Cup simultaneously to the Gold Cup.
"This year's league has been tough on the bodies", says van der Walt. "We are happy that we have a 4 week break until we start our campaigns"
The prolonged break is fortuitous in the context of recovery from niggling injuries but can break the momentum the team has built up over the last number of weeks. "We are so thankful and excited to be competing in this prestigious tournament again. Qualifying two years in a row is also very special for us", he said.
The Super League A title is realistically heading back to Coetzenburg after the Maties obliterated Hamiltons 73-7 in a power-display of quality fifteen man rugby at Green Point on Saturday. They delivered a consummate performance as they defeated a team many felt were capable of causing an upset. Ending second in this year’s SLA does not detract from the success of the Bay's season. They drew against Hammies at the beginning of the season and then lost by one point in the fourth minute of injury time to the Maties in a match which delivered more than eighty points.
While league tables do not have comments columns, the Bay's achievements this year are as remarkable as that of their league-winning 2016 season. Being champions makes a team a different target as they shift from being a popular underdog to a scalp hunted week in and out. Graham Knoop’s team handles this responsibility admirably, Hammies and Maties the only non-victories of their 2017 season. The team's maturity has been evident, maturity which will stand them in good stead during the demanding Gold Cup campaign.
Their depth will also be tested as Pieter Benade’s team contests the WP President's Cup starting in September. There are exciting times ahead for the Bay boys, on platforms to showcase their talent and the depth which the Bay has nurtured is itching to show their wares.
- Jon Harris