BAY PASS TOUGH TESTS
DirectAxis False Bay withstood two supreme tests of their ability within three days when they overcame Victorians at Stellenbosch and then SK Walmers at Constantia on Saturday. The Bay overturned a 0-22 deficit to beat Vics 31-22 and then withstood a constant onslaught from a determined Kloof outfit to scrape home 11-10 on their own pitch to retain their unbeaten record of 6 out of 6.
It’s often said in the Super League A that the best way to play student teams is through hard, physical forward play, the assumption being that the younger players wilt under the constant physical contact. This strategy was the obvious and only way for the Constantia outfit, their big forward pack amongst the best in the league. It appears that that particular communique did not reach former WP hardman Louis Blom, coach of Victorians. His young, big and powerful charges, led by locks Basil Liebenberg and Lourens Fick simply blew their opponents away in the first half hour.
Liebenberg especially carried the ball with ferocious assuredness, inspiring his fellow forwards as they created space from which their backs attacked almost at will. Centres Altus Momsen and Willie Smal wreaked havoc during this period. It was not all the doing of the home team however, as False Bay contrived to complicate their lives by failing to clear their lines when afforded the opportunity. Half an hour gone and the Bay had hardly seen a blade of grass in Vics territory, 22 points behind through tries by flank Mitchell Karstens, scrumhalf Jacob Louis, and Momsen. Flyhalf Jonty Bredell converted two as well as a penalty.
DirectAxis False Bay began to gain some composure through phase play and arresting the tendency to put themselves under pressure. Flyhalf Andri Claasen converted a penalty to reduce the points-difference to within the teens. Once their forwards started getting back into the game, nippy scrumhalf Dylan Frylinck could take advantage with his sniping runs. Eighthman Ryan Olivier, showing a welcome return to form opened the Bay’s scoring when he opportunistically took a quick tap from a penalty and crashed over under the poles barely ten minutes before the break. The score was the hope the travelling support needed and the inspiration the Bay desperately needed and the teams changed at 22-10.
False Bay simply dominated the second half from beginning to end, their forwards now executing the play expected from them from the first whistle, marshalled by Frylinck and then the maestro Ridhaa Damon. Central to this was a simply remarkable display of scrumming from the Bay front row of Wesley Chetty, Vlam van Vuuren and Ashley Wells, one which would have earned the respect of the most cynical Old School prop who tut-tuts at every modern-day scrum. Wells especially was ruthless as he played the role of a classic tighthead, and the psychological effect of being dominated in the scrums had a domino effect on the hosts’ performance.
Bay struck back with a well-executed solo try by veteran centre Byron Mohr, who showed his opponents a clean pair of heels as he worked the 30 metres to the tryline. The Bay took the lead about halfway through the second stanza through a penalty try which Claasen converted. A precarious two-point lead against a team renowned for playing rugby until after the final whistle was never going to be enough but the Bay were determined to keep their lines intact and instead attacked relentlessly. They scored their fourth try for a bonus point just about on full time, as centre Riaan O’Neill, who had an outstanding game waltzed over for the score. Claasen did the necessary and an outstanding comeback from behind was over.
With their forthcoming opponents, SK Walmers watching in the stands, False Bay were under no illusions about their home fixture against the Schotsche Kloof club, who clearly believed that they could triumph on the day. Again the results of the Bay’s Second and Third Teams both exceeded the half century (as against UWC) yet no one in attendance believed that trend would continue come the main contest.
Coach Johnno van der Walt, showing his faith in his full squad, confidently applied his rotation policy. SKW, big, strong and focused took to the pitch, a determined outfit with a sound game plan and everyone aware of his role.
What ensued was eighty minutes of gruelling rugby, the physicality not only limited to the forwards. Both sides entertained with some exciting loose play in contrast to the close encounters in the tight loose. Kloof, with locks Madeeg Davids and Abubaker Davids in the vanguard kept the pressure on their opponents while centres Danwill Erasmus and Meekaeel Hartley constantly questioned the Bay defence with their scything power runs.
Wednesday’s physical encounter showed in the Bay’s performance, their game error-riddled and erratic at times. While that is a valid and fair observation, it should not detract from the performance of the visitors. They are a well-drilled team and each player knew his role to the letter. They constantly questioned the Bay’s defensive lines and cleverly caused delay at the breakdown, hampering fluidity and frustrating the Constantia team’s efforts somewhat.
False Bay lead 8-0 at the break through an excellent try by Chetty and a penalty by Claasen. SKW however stunned the local support by taking the lead through a try by Erasmus. Flyhalf Yasir Davids converted this and later a penalty too. The Bay bench entered the fray and appeared to rush the execution of their play in their efforts to regain the lead.
Fullback Adnaan Osman, a former Kloof star, crowned an outstanding performance when he converted a penalty to give the Bay the winning lead. False Bay, deep on attack in the closing stages broke the Kloof defences to send wing Mustaquim Jappie for a try which he completed with a voluptuous swan dive sending the nervous Bay support into raptures. Unfortunately the final pass was belatedly ruled forward and the narrow scoreline remained.
False Bay have a break this weekend to rest weary bones in preparation for another extremely tough encounter when they host Tygerberg at Constantia on Saturday 21 May. The “Tygers” are enjoying a remarkable season and lie one position under False Bay on the SLA table.