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by Jon Harris

In a highly entertaining encounter at Kenilworth, Stor-Age False Bay resisted a strong comeback from hosts Primrose to run out 46-36 winners on Saturday. The half time score was 15-5.


Derbies are always tough encounters and the rivalry between these clubs has always delivered the excitement expected but often in acrimonious fashion. Not so on Saturday. Rugby was the winner on Saturday as both teams focused on the task at hand and the spectators were the beneficiaries as they witnessed an enthralling contest.


The home side seemed to have done their homework on their opponents as they managed to disrupt the Bay’s lineout in the opening quarter. Indeed they opened the scoring after two False Bay handling mistakes in succession led to a five metre lineout. Flank Sizwe July scored off the back of a rolling maul.


July’s participation in the contest was limited as he later received a yellow card for tripping False Bay’s standout player, Ridhaa Damon. He then received another yellow card, which meant automatic suspension from the match for a second foul, his indiscretion making the task of his team mates that much more difficult.


The Bay settled and struck back with a well-worked try by flank Brent Stevens. Opting for a scrum instead of a kick at poles, False Bay slung the ball left and then right which opened the space for the lanky flank to crash over under the poles.


Flyhalf Andri Claasen converted but he had hurt his ribs during the passage, which resulted in his departure later. The enigmatic Damon proceeded to show his freakish talent as he proved to be a reliable kicker after the former’s departure.


False Bay’s captain Michael Poppmeier, who had an enormous game, especially with the ball in hand, crashed over for the first of his brace and Damon later converted a penalty to give the Bay their 15-5 half time lead.


It was a satisfactory lead considering that Primrose looked dangerous whenever they had the ball in hand and only False Bay’s resolute defence prevented any further Rose scores in the half.


That defence did at times falter in the second half, especially in the loose play as Primrose exploited the space at times gifted them in general play where centre Ramiz Osman in particular caused havoc.


Soon after the restart wing Gafhoor Luckhan broke through the flyhalf channel off a set piece move and scored under the posts. Flyhalf Henry Wolhuter converted and his unfailing boot then became a major factor in the second half as he effortlessly slotted every attempt subsequently.


A two point contest and the Bay were stung into action. By now July was showering and his team courageously making up for the shortage in numbers. Bay wing Taliep Johnson, a former Primrose player, silenced the home crowd as he easily rounded his opponent to score a well-worked counter-attack try under the poles. A few minutes later, fullback Byron Mohr latched into a kick which had ricocheted like a pinball off two players, to sprint the forty metres for a try.


With the score at 29-12 and the Roses down to fourteen men, the visiting Bay support was hoping the home team’s resistance had been broken.


It was not to be. Fullback Xolala Payi was the first to score as Primrose countered off a Bay mistake and then centre Osman scored in similar fashion. Each of these tries the result of injudicious judgement and the Primrose counter attack struck back with tremendous pace which found the Bay defences wanting. Both of these scores were against the touchline and Wolhuter easily stroked these between the uprights. He then converted a penalty to reduce the Bay’s seventeen point lead to just three.


The Constantia outfit is a patient one, not prone to panicking. Eighthman Andrew Whittaker scored under the posts off a maul and Poppmeier bagged his second at the end of a barnstorming run started by lock partner Graham Knoop. Damon converted both as well as a penalty to give the Bay their final tally.


Primrose were not finished and continually sniped at the visiting defence. They were rewarded for the effective use of this ploy when replacement scrumhalf Jason Jantjies caught the Bay offguard when he took a quick penalty to score under the poles.


Referee Matt Kemp, who controlled the match impeccably, called an end to a quality contest a few minutes later.


The False Bay trio of Justin van Winkle, Brent Stevens and Andrew Whittaker were outstanding, as was scrumhalf Damon. Props Johnny “Mo” Simpson and Wesley Chetty scrummed exceptionally and carried the ball well. Both hookers, Vlam van Vuuren and Dane Jans contributed in no small way to their team’s efforts.


Standout players for Primrose were Wolhuter, who controlled the game well, flank Screech Masixole, a reliable source of lineout possession for his team and captain Hoosain Isaacs a typically tigerish hooker in the loose.


False Bay’s points were scored through tries by Stevens, Poppmeier (2), Johnson, Mohr and Whittaker. Claasen converted one and Damon converted 4 tries and 2 penalties.


Primrose try scorers were July, Luckhan, Jantjies, Osman and Payi, while Wolhuter converted four as well as a penalty.


False Bay has a bye this weekend and then host a resurgent Helderberg at Constantia on Saturday 21 June.


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