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13 May 2017

Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography

DirectAxis False Bay applied the pressure of a champion side as they systematically shut out a determined UniMil RFC at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 53-3 after the Bay lead 17-3 at the break.


Milnerton, at the end of their trying week of three matches against top opposition in seven days, played a high intensity, frenetic game in the opening half hour aimed at applying pressure to the Constantia team. They created sufficient opportunities for themselves during this period, their ordinary handling stifling these attempts at converting to points. On the flip side of that coin, DirectAxisFalse Bay’s defence was resolute, repulsing a number of attacks on their line, keeping their “tries against” column clean on the day.


The Bay did seem to suffer at the hands of match officials with a jaundiced eye, but this is a part of the game and with the prevailing focus on the tackle area it is only their interpretation matters. False Bay spent ten minutes early in the first half without the very influential presence of captain Graham Knoop and later, just before the break, lock Brent Stevens suffered the same ignominy.


Nevertheless False Bay absorbed the considerable pressure exerted upon them, later applying a hold over their opponents which squeezed the life out of them. “Millies” are a modern-day success story. Over the last decade they suffered a decline in fortunes which saw them enter a freefall from SLA status and ending up in what is effectively Division Four. The determination of a group of members saw the club climb the league ladder in spectacular form, regaining a spot in the top flight this season and they are acquitting themselves most capably.


False Bay was the third top tier club they faced in seven days, Hamiltons and Maties completing the triumvirate. Coach Ishma’eel Dollie had cleverly used his squad system, reportedly resting a dozen of his first choice players for his midweek fixture, clear indication that victory over the Bay was the prize. The tactic appeared to be a wise one considering the energy displayed by his charges but this is the Super League A, probably the toughest club league in the country and the Bay were not about to panic, even though the visitors opened the scoring with a penalty by flyhalf Adrian Roberts and they did seem to spend too much time in their own territory during this time.


Many of the Bay’s nine tries were fast-paced counter attacks from their own half and their opening score was typical of this venomous strike capacity. Fullback Karl Martin raced over the line at the end of a counter attack which shredded the Millies defences. Flank Michael Botha who delivered a gargantuan performance, crossed over for the first of his brace of tries. Debutant Carl Kohne got his first try for the Bay, a 95 metre counter attack off a spilled ball from a tackle, the ball doing the work as it was passed between the speedy backs. Flyhalf Andri Claasen converted to give the Bay their fourteen point half time lead.


Harsh as it may seem, the UniMil challenge had been accepted and despatched and the second half belonged to the hosts. Not that the visitors were spectators in that stanza, quite the contrary. They contested at the breakdown and scrummed well, even bagging two tightheads cleanly struck by hooker Leon Carstens. Frustrating for them was that their attacks were rendered sterile by a resolute and organised Bay defence, off set pieces or scrambled. Their lineouts suffered too, Knoop and flank Brandon Wood pilfering a number of their put ins. Wood has been a revelation at flank this year, his tackling and ball carrying still a hallmark of his loose play.


The Bay scored six tries in the second half as they upped the ante and showed their class. Centre Riaan O’Neill, outstanding the whole season thus far was rewarded with one for his quality game. Eighthman Ryan Olivier bagged two, continuing from his fine second half performance a week earlier. Wood got onto the scoresheet as did flank Taps Tsamondo. Replacement flyhalf Dylon Frylinck converted two with Claasen getting a second before his departure.


A rugby lesson it may have been but Millies did contribute to a largely entertaining match. Their halfbacks Lourens Pearson at scrumhalf and pivot Roberts performed well. Flank Norman Mukondiwa was devastating in contact and captain Eddie Theron rallied his troops well through his lead-from-the-front play. Prop Dave Geffin carried the ball well.


For the Bay scrumhalf Niyaas Johnson thrived in his first start in the position and then his replacement Ridhaa Damon took up from where he left off when he entered the contest. Botha, Olivier and Wood were outstanding as were centres O’Neill and Kohne. Mustaqueem Jappie never disappoints and Knoop astounds by delivering better performances each week. Flyhalf Andri Claasen’s tactical kicking was sharp, his longrange clearances delivering nett gains as UniMil were forced to seek touch from his exit kicks.


False Bay has a bye this weekend and then travel to Florida Park to face unbeaten Tygerberg RFC next week in what promises to be another top quality fixture.


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