BAY RUN AMOK
8 July 2017
Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography
False Bay RFC ran a hapless Pniel Villager ragged in their SLA2017 match at Pniel on Saturday. The final score was 85-8 after the Bay lead 38-8 at the break.
False Bay were ruthless against a club struggling to be competitive in the top-flight. The Stellenbosch-based club was one of two to be promoted to the SLA at the end of last season. Uni-Mil, the second club gaining senior status this season has fared reasonably well to date, lying mid-table after eight matches. Pniel Villager by contrast occupy last position after nine matches and are relegation-bound. The two clubs are a case study of survival in the top flight of the WP league. While Milnerton recruited well during the off-season, Pniel suffered a talent drain which left them high and dry and ill-equipped to face the big guns in the SLA. Even more daunting is their "Fear Factor Fortnight" starting next weekend wherein they face Victorians, Maties, Uni-Mil and Brakenfell over a period of fourteen days, enough to scare the wits out of any team, let alone a struggling one.
If anything the team from the other side of the Helshoogte Pass have character and they certainly showed this in the opening quarter of the match against SLA Champions, False Bay. Although the Constantia outfit took an early twelve-point lead in the match, the hosts never stood back during this period and caught their guests napping at a five-metre lineout and captain Brandon Smith crashed over for a try. Fullback Ruaan Jacobs later increased his teams tally to eight with a penalty conversion.
It was to be the last time that the hosts troubled the scoreboard minders as the Bay applied a stranglehold on possession and procedures, notching up a further eleven tries in what can only be described as a one-sided rout. With far more challenging opposition awaiting the Constantia outfit in their last four matches, False Bay coach Johnno van der Walt sought a comprehensive and emphatic victory through adherence to the game plan.
Hit by the late withdrawal of prop Ashley Wells who was drafted into the Western Province Currie Cup squad, the Bay showed their supremacy in all departments, and handsomely boosted their points difference on the table in the process. Wells' replacement Wesley Futter thrived on a rare start for the Bay's senior team, featuring prominently in the loose play throughout the contest. Lock Jan Ferreira shone with his no-nonsense tight loose play, while skipper Graham Knoop delivered a top-shelf performance and flank Taps Tsamondo wooed the crowd with his energetic and busy game.
At the back, scrumhalves Dillon Frylinck and Ridhaa Damon produced their standard quality fair and centre Riaan O'Neil refuses to deliver a substandard performance, improving each week while forming a formidable partnership with Karl Kohne. Wings Mustaqeem Jappie and Roemark Smith were a handful and found their way to the tryline during the 13-try rout.
The Bay hit the top of the table with this emphatic victory. Stellenbosch University has played only five matches thus far compared to the ten of False Bayand the eleven of UCT. It would take a calamitous implosion of standards to see the Maties drop two league matches from their remaining nine.
The Bay have four games remaining and are looking for twenty log points to secure a definite entry into the national club championship, Gold Cup 2017. They were runners-up in last year's competition and would like another crack at the cherry. "Entry is not guaranteed for us, we have four very tough matches ahead of us", said van der Walt.
False Bay host perennial tough nuts, Victorians and then Durbell at Constantia. They travel to Brackenfell and UWC to finish their league campaign. Each of these matches is a challenge in a unique way. Durbell are resurgent, Brackenfell are tough on their own turf and UWC are a very competent outfit with a night game being an added leveller.
"Should we get 20 log points we will end on 63 points for the season," said van der Walt.
It is a season full of intrigue. Maties have nine matches in six weeks including Hamiltons, Durbell and Tygerberg, not an easy schedule. Victory and bonus point collection in each outing is central to their quest for league honours.
Indeed, van der Walt should be comfortable with the performances of his team. They appear to be hitting their straps at the right time of the season. Their set pieces are sound, improving on each outing and their defence is looking the part and they remain a try-scoring threat on attack with their mindset.
"The next few weeks are going to make or break our season", says the wily coach.
Exciting times indeed.
- Jon Harris