DirectAxis False Bay RFC withstood a persistent and dangerous Brackenfell RFC to run out 38-33 winners in an entertaining SLA match at Constantia on Saturday. The Bay led 24-21 at the break.
“Brakkies”, as they are affectionately known, entered the contest two games to the good of their opponents, courtesy of a stop-start season which has affected some clubs more than others. The visitors have had an erratic schedule which was expected to negatively affected the match fitness of their big forwards. Bay coach Johnno van der Walt had chosen rotate his players, a sound practice as all players in the squad and more are worthy of a start. The apparently more mobile Bay pack was expected to run the ball, limiting rucks and malls and keeping the Brackenfell forwards on the hoof as such.
The lads from the deep Northern Suburbs had other intentions instead and kept their hosts in check with quality ball possession and physical forward play. Their backline, not much different in appearance to their forwards, were no less physical and determined to come away with league points to further strengthen their claim on a Top Six finish.
False Bay opened the scoring with try by big eighthman, Dian Koen which was converted by Adnaan Oesman. Brackenfell did not allow themselves time to weep and took the contest back to their opponents, clawing three points back through a penalty conversion by centre Dan Aspeling. Minutes later they shocked the home support when burly scrumhalf, hard-to-stop Johan Herbst crashed over for a try which gave his team the lead, which Aspeling extended through the conversion. The score gave Brackenfell the lead for the first time in the contest, but when the Constantia lads wrested that away from them, it would be for the remainder of the match.
Evergreen Oesman scored False Bay’s next try, a sweeping effort started on their one ten metre line and ending after the entire backline handled the ball, in the right hand corner. Shortly afterwards, mercurial scrumhalf, Niyaas Johnson added to his impressive try collection for the season, which Oesman converted to extend the Bay lead to nine points.
The physical size of the opponents was impressive, but many with green blood were speculating when the legs of the visitors would turn to jelly and their mouths gape in the familiar pose of an athlete trying to entrap as much oxygen as possible. This simply never happened as it became apparent that the fitness levels of the visitors had been vastly improved by coach Thinus van Rensburg and that slump never seemed to materialise. Instead, Aspeling banked another penalty and then wing Daniel Oche grabbed a try.
With a few minutes of the first half to go, there was a paltry one point separating the teams until the elusive Mustaqeem Jappie crossed for the first of his brace of tries for False Bay. A six point gap between the teams looked a little better than before, until Aspeling converted a penalty to allow his team to change ends at 21-24.
Bay coach van der Walt had a power bench kicking their heals, which was always going to be his ace up the sleeve. He introduced some big guns in the form of Ryan Olivier and Graham Knoop, the fresh legs and physicality of those two upping the intensity, especially at collision time. Jappie got his second, which Oesman converted and then hooker Imraan Hendricks, enjoying a well-deserved but rare start, was rewarded with a try, his joy shared equally by his team mates. Oesman converted.
It was to be the last time False Bay were to score in the match, although it did seem as if they had done sufficient to close the match down. The only problem is that Brackies were having none of that. They had travelled a long way and were not about to leave Constantia empty handed. First, outstanding flank, Marcel Roux inspired his counterparts with a try, duly converted by Aspeling, and then Dewald Els got another for his team.
Meer minutes left on the clock, and with referee’s optional extra time to play, False Bay’s seventeen point lead had been whittled down to six and although deep on attack for the remainder of play, with the Constantia team laying claim to their opponents quarter, all that was needed to cause an upset was a spilled ball, a fly-hack and successful chase, and False Bay would have lost in extra time for the second time at home, ironically with the same referee in attendance.
It was not to happen, in fact that was just nervous fear-mongering thrown about in the Bay stands. Instead it was Brackenfell who, having weighed their options, opted to bank their two bonus points and not risk another Bay try which would have halved that haul. Level headed Herbst cleared for touch on his own five metre line and an end was called on a most entertaining encounter.
Outstanding for the visitors were the point scorers, together with burly lock Pieter Koegelenberg, and flank Pieter Spreeth. For the Bay their try scorers too impressed, as did lock Brandon Wood, centre Danie Roux and Riaan O’Neil, and Knoop.
False Bay currently head the Super League A table, two points ahead of Durbanville-Bellville. They have a bye this weekend and then travel to Milnerton to face third-placed UniMil who are salivating at the prospect of a home encounter against the Bay.