DirectAxis False Bay hit the afterburners and tore the heart out of visitors Union-Milnerton in the SLA quarter-final match at Constantia on Saturday. They won 83-36 after leading 29-12 at half time.
The Bay last played a match on August 17th, almost a month before this crunch knockout clash. Milnerton last took to the pitch a fortnight later than their opponents and they appeared confident of causing an upset at a venue from a venue most visitors depart vanquished. Add to this that bonus points and number of tries scored are of no importance, having even just one point more than the opposition means progression to the semi-finals.
False Bay started off with an intensity which caught their guests off-guard, scoring their first try by scrumhalf Dylan Frylinck within the opening three minutes. Fullback Adnaan Oesman added the conversion. Moments later flyhalf Ewan Adams launched a counter-attack from sixty metres out which saw wing Mustaqueem Jappie score under the poles and the Bay were up by fourteen points after Oesman guided the ball between the uprights.
The final score may indicate a one-sided affair, something which could not be less accurate. Rocked by an opening five minutes, “Uni-Mil” settled and began to claw their way back with some structured phase-play. Their forwards held an advantage in the scrums. Just who collapses a scrum is often the subject of hot debate with no clear agreement amongst front-row pundits and the first few scrums of the day saw advantage going to the visitors. Gigantic Uni-Mil prop Tiny van Wyk, towering over his opponent Johnny Rafael, minute by comparison, enjoyed the benefit of the doubt and the Bay was repeatedly punished for collapsing the scrum. From this platform, the visitors exerted pressure on the Bay which resulted in a try by captain Edward Theron.
The apparent recovery of Milnerton after a frenetic ten minutes which saw the Constantia outfit completely overshadow their opponents, was starting to play on the minds of the passionate home support. False Bay continued to spread the ball, their obvious game plan of minimizing the breakdowns to tire their big opponents, opening gaps for their speedy and exciting backs. Frylinck, injured in the build-up to Jappie’s try had by now been replaced by Niyaaz Johnson, who scored at the end of an exciting counter attack. Ever-reliable Oesman added the conversion and the Bay had nullified Theron’s try for Milnerton.
The dominance of the Bay was built on some sound work in the primary phases of the forward game, locks Brandon Wood and Graham Knoop physical in contact and reliable as a source of lineout possession. Flank Lukhanyo Nomzanga, a silent but devastating operator was immense and prop David Geffen delivered an outstanding performance in the period when attrition was necessary to establish dominance.
Johnson’s try gave False Bay a sixteen point lead but the visitors were awarded a penalty try for repeated transgressions by False Bay in their red zone. The automatic seven points, accompanied by a yellow card to captain Thabo Ngcongo reduced the Bay’s lead to nine and their on-field personnel to fourteen. The card did not seem to put False Bay off their stride and wing Danie Roux extended his team’s lead with the first of his brace of tries. Oesman did the necessary with the conversion.
Oddly, Union-Milnerton appeared to be fading, something which became more apparent in the second half. Perhaps it was their game plan, which if one is allowed to be critical, was a little one-dimensional. They appeared to want to take False Bay on through their forwards, for the most opting to cut back to link up with their forwards for a battle of the contact zone. By contrast, False Bay spread the ball at every opportunity, pivot Adams outstanding on attack and at getting his backline away.
Although there was still a lot of entertaining rugby to be played in the second half, the match was over as a contest as the hosts scored two tries in quick succession in the first few minutes of the second stanza. Roux crossed for his second try and then False Bay were awarded a penalty try in similar fashion to that of their opponents.
Milnerton refused to capitulate, evidence of which was their four second-half tries. The second forty minutes saw the ball being thrown around with almost abandon and the Constantia lads crossed the Uni-Mil line for eight tries in this period. The darkest moment of the half was the serious injury to prop Wesley Futter, as play was stopped for a lengthy period which the stocky prop was stretchered off of the pitch.
If one had been asked if it would be plausible before kick-off that a team would score thirty six points in a quarter-final yet still lose by almost fifty, most would have scoffed in derision. Yet this match delivered that result and False Bay appear ready to challenge Maties for one of the spots in the Final to be played at Newlands on Tuesday 24 September. False Bay face Maties in one of the semi-finals at City Park on Saturday. The other is between UCT and Dur-Bell.