BAY KICK OFF WITH VICTORY
2 JUNE 2018
DirectAxis False Bay RFC started their SLA 2018 campaign with a hard-fought 23-16 victory over rivals Hamilton’s at Constantia on Saturday. The half time score was 10-10.
With an incoming cold front scheduled to hit the area shortly after the delayed kick-off of 5pm, ample rugby entertainment had already been dished up with DHL WP’s 53-24 victory over the Border Bulldogs in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge match played as a curtain-raiser to the SLA clash between the two club giants. As it turned out, the pre-cold front conditions allowed the two Provincial teams to play an expansive, entertaining game which delivered a handsome return on the meagre entrance fee. The scenario of young children playing touch rugby behind the poles while two provincial teams locked horns and two club giants warming up for their first league match of the season, was the epitome of rugby as a community sport.
And so, it came to the main clash of the day. Hamilton’s have had the upper hand in clashes since False Bay’s return to the Super League A in 2014, the Bay winless since 2014 against the Sea Point giants.
Scrumhalf Dilan Frylinck took to the pitch alone, an honour earned on his fiftieth cap for his club. Meters behind captain Graham Knoop, proudly accompanied by Mathew of Miracle Kids Constantia, the chosen charity of the Bay First XV, took to the pitch. With the dark clouds of the cold front looming, the teams focussed on the task at hand, getting their respective campaigns off to a positive start.
What followed was eighty minutes of entertaining rugby played at a high pace with minimal errors, especially considering the wet conditions. The arrival of the much-anticipated cold front was ironic on the one hand and openly welcomed by spectators normally reluctant to be exposed to such heavy rain. The irony belonged to a drought-delayed season opener for non-university teams in pouring rain.
That all aside, it was time for the season to get underway, with a busy schedule of fourteen games in seventeen weeks ahead for most. It took three minutes for False Bay to open the scoring with a try off a ten-metre lineout, which saw wing Danie Roux crashing under the poles. Fullback Karl Martin made it a goal and later extended the lead to ten with a penalty.
Hamilton’s have a relatively new but highly rated pack and the Bay managed to exploit an unanticipated advantage over their bigger opponents. Indeed, the Constantia front row of Dave Geffen, Vlam van Vuuren and Wesley Futter put their opponents to the test and came out on top.
Ten points to the good and the Bay looked in charge but perennial league hunters Hamilton’s are no pushovers and had no intention of capitulating as the rain began to pelt down. Early in the second quarter they found themselves on attack with False Bay under severe pressure to clear their line. What ensued was remarkable. A Bay clearance kick was charged down and collected, and with a certain try about to be scored, False Bay pivot Siya Alam tackled the ball carrier from behind to dislodge the ball and keep the scoreboard clean. It was a scene reminiscent of the tackle effected by Sharks winger Deon Kayser on Stormers centre Robbie Fleck a decade earlier.
Hamilton’s were inspired and with the help of some aimless line kicking from the hosts, they escalated the pressure on the home side. Opting for touch kicks off penalties from which to launch their attacks, Hammies had a five-metre lineout. Threatening the Bay line, hooker van Vuuren was nabbed for cynical play and received a ten-minute breather in an icy cold sin bin. The visitors were awarded a penalty try, a mandatory seven points.
Minutes later fly half Rayhaan Lombard slotted a penalty to share the half time spoils.
The teams returned to the pitch drenched but focussed. It would not have been remiss to sense that the match would degenerate into an error-ridden mud fest as the rain continued to pelt down. Instead an entertaining forty minutes of quality rugby was delivered by both teams, with remarkably few errors in the conditions, the remaining spectators braving the conditions lapping up a contest played in conditions impossible to envisage two months earlier.
Bay skipper Graham Knoop stood up last from a maul and was awarded his team’s second try, which Martin converted. A seven-point lead against a quality outfit such as Hamilton’s was never going to be enough and the shivering of local supporters was not solely the result of the cold. Lombard reduced that lead to four with a penalty for the visitors.
Bay fullback Martin has a booming boot and he slotted a 45-metre penalty kick which restored his team’s seven-point lead. Veteran fullback Adnan Osman, slight in build and probably the antithesis of Martin replaced Martin and it seemed that the kicking advantage under the conditions was perhaps lost. Osman is a remarkable player, strong on his feet, wiry and wily, with a fine boot and calmly stepped up to convert a penalty from the same sand pile used by Martin a few minutes earlier. It was a score which carried gravity and although Lombard added one more penalty to his tally, substantial pressure was lifted with Osman’s kick.
The end was called to an entertaining clash with the score a fair reflection of proceedings, the Bay’s first victory over the Sea Point outfit since their return to SLA in 2014.
False Bay host Belhar in their next SLA match on Saturday at 4pm. All are welcome.