After a promising but rusty start to their 2014 season against UCT last week, the evidence was more than apparent that False Bay had worked hard on their execution in their 43-10 victory over Helderberg at Strand on Saturday. The Bay led 31-0 at the break.
False Bay’s first outing against UCT indeed showed much promise but it was their error rate and the accuracy of their game which perhaps let them down on the day.
On Saturday, in what has become an annual home and away friendly against Helderberg, the Constantia outfit were far more accurate in a performance which was impressive in many areas.
In their seven to two try rout, the Bay demonstrated their counter-attacking potential with five of their touchdowns starting from around mid-pitch with hard and straight counter running, resulting in scores by their speedy wings Danie Roux and Taalieb Johnson. The former bagged a hat trick of tries in trademark never-say-die fashion. The latter has tremendous pace and an ability to seemingly change direction in mid-air.
In all honesty, False Bay’s performance was built on a slower opposition than the week before but to view this in isolation is unfair to a solid team performance with vastly improved disciplines in many facets and phases.
Lineouts for one were far better, with captain Michael Poppmeier prominent and their tackle rate a big step in the right direction. Here missed tackles were covered by sweep defence with the second line sometimes playing a vital role in defending the lines.
False Bay are blessed with a surfeit of good front row forwards, with veteran props Frankie Charlie and SP Blakely stubbornly holding onto their starter positions with powerhouse performances each week. There is no harm in that as they then hand over to young guns Garry Topkin and Jonny Simpson with hooker Dane Jans taking over from Vlam van Vuuren, who is in top form this year. They form the foundation of a pack which dominated their heavier opposition on Saturday.
The Bay broke the hosts back with a first half of power and pace. Helderberg were lethargic in the first stanza, making their challenge against a quality side even more difficult. Their forwards wilted against their visitors, losing a number of lineouts and being overshadowed in the scrums, rucks and mauls. Their out of hand kicking was poor, at times resulting in aimless kicks going to hand and then porous defence allowing runners like Roux to punish them.
Helderberg retreated to the changerooms at the break and were naughty in flaunting the referee’s kindness in allowing them a slightly longer break than permissible.
Their second half performance demonstrated why this was so, as they were a totally different side to the one which had just taken 31 points in the opening half. They tackled with far more commitment, their forwards took the game to the Bay and flyhalf Nickie van der Westhuizen seemed to take more control of their game. This resulted in tries by fullback Edwin Jaggers and eighthman JP Crawford, two standout players throughout the contest.
It would be remiss to imply that the Bay’s victory was built on counter attack. Their set piece domination was obvious and allowed phases to be played. Their defence was at time bone crunching, with eighthman Brent Stevens prominent.
Flyhalf Andri Claasens seemed to control the game with more confidence and it was exciting to see him break the line on occasions. He is a strong, stocky fellow and possesses a powerful handoff which he applied to great effect on the day.
Veteran Justin van Winkel is playing some of the rugby of his illustrious career and flank Lukhanya Nomzanga had the crowd grimacing at his jarring tackles and cooing at his ball pilfering skills at the breakdown. Scrumhalf Ridhaa Damon proved his versatility when he was shifted to fullback, delivering a commanding performance from this position. Starting fullback, Jason Pretorius pulled a hamstring on his way to the tryline and further endorsed his exciting potential with a strong performance on attack and defence. Diminutive scrumhalf, Darren Rix turned in a strong performance in his extended run this week.
Tries for False Bay were scored by Roux (3), Johnson, Poppmeier, Pretorius and centre Marc Davids. Claasens converted 4.
Helderbergs points came from tries by Jaggers and Crawford and van der Westhuizen converted one.
A special mention of veteran referee JC Fortuin. This accomplished referee has been the man in the middle at the highest level, yet finds the time and inclination to adjudicate club games, even friendly contests. Without these men, the game cannot take place.
False Bay start their SLA season on 3 April.