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14 October 2017

Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography

False Bay RFC progressed to the semi-finals of the Gold Cup with a resounding victory over Progress of George at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 37-13 after the hosts lead 16-9 at the break.


No matter how well a team performs in the round robin pools, all that is required in the knock out stages to progress to the next round is one point more than the opposition on the scoreboard at the end of a match. That is part of the reason why these games can be dour slugfests, teams sparring with each other, punctuated by penalty kicks. The Gold Cup in its current format over the last two seasons appears to have turned this trend on its head, with most knockout matches producing sparkling, running rugby. Indeed, in the other Cape quarter final played over the past weekend, Tygerberg RFC nearly caused an upset as they were rebuffed time and again in the final minutes against College Rovers of Durban at Florida Park. The “Tigers” narrowly lost 23-27 to end a successful maiden Gold Cup campaign, delivering a handsome return as wild card entrants.


Losing finalists in last season’s Gold Cup, False Bay earned the privilege of hosting their quarter-final match against the South-Western Districts club champions. Resting some of his players after a particularly tough encounter against Rovers the week before, coach Johnno van der Walt had faith in the depth of talent available to him and was repaid handsomely. The Bay lead from beginning to end, breaking the duck on the scoreboard in the fifth minute and keeping it rolling throughout the contest.


The opening score went to fullback Kyle Martin, whose booming boot was a factor out of hand as well as from the kicking tee. Burly eighthman Ryan Olivier, who produced another sparkling performance, crossed for his team’s first of four tries and Martin completed his team’s first half scoring with a conversion and two further penalties.


The Constantia outfit’s dominance was apparent from the outset and was evident in the pattern of play adopted by the visitors. Referee Sindile Ngcese, who handled the game with authority and clarity, had his hands full policing the off side line in the first half. Ironically, when the visitors opted to let the ball do the work, they certainly showed their prowess on attack. It is often said that defence wins matches and this may have been the tactics of Progress, but on the day their opposition were ruthless with ball in hand.


Their forwards set a sound platform from which to launch attacks; their defence was unrelenting and determined; and they were not afraid to run the ball when given the chance. Progress were determined to cross their opponent’s line, their enterprising running met with resolute defence time and again, although they did succeed in crossing the False Bay line late in the contest, an attractive score by right wing Ethen Williams. Their diminutive flyhalf with a booming boot, Henry Wolhuter had twice converted penalties in the first half, and Jerome Roelfse completed his team’s scoring with a conversion.


Olivier scored the second of his brace for the Bay and was joined on the scorecard as try scorers by Carl Kohne and the ubiquitous Danie Roux. Martin converted one and evergreen Adnaan Osman converted the two tries.


The win set up a repeat of last year’s Gold Cup final between False Bay and Impala of Rustenberg, this time as a semi-final with one of the teams earning the right to appear on consecutive Gold Cup Final match-day programmes. Last year’s contest in Rustenberg saw the Cape side, playing their fifth match out of seven away from home, wilt in the Highveld sun in the face of an Impalas onslaught which was steely determination as much as quality team-work. The hosts were intent to take cup honours having lost the season before when the competition was played as the Community Cup.


There is no denying home ground advantage at this level of rugby. The quality of rugby produced is undeniable but travel is rare enough for these players to remain a factor and the Phillip Herbstein Fields in Constantia remain a happy place for False Bay. The quaint, characterful grounds is expected to be filled to capacity as club rugby fans attend a match which promises a high return for the minor investment of time.


The visitors have a sound, effective pack complimented by a big, strong backline. By contrast the hosts have a competitive but not particularly big pack of forwards with a talented backline which works cohesively.


The hosts may represent the hopes of their members and supporters but for Saturday alone, clubs from around the Peninsula are expected to band together in support of the remaining Cape team left in the competition in their quest for glory and a trophy for the Cape.


Kick off is at 3pm with a match between the veterans of False Bay and Durbanville entertaining the crowd in slow motion at 12.45pm.


All are welcome. Parking will be available on the B-field.

- Jon Harris

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