In a much-anticipated clash of two of the top contenders of SLA2019, DirectAxis False Bay produced an impressive performance to easily beat hosts UniMil at Milnerton on Saturday. The final score was 29-16 after the visitors led 19-6 at the break.
The Bay’s second half of their campaign is a true test of worth as contenders for the knockout stages of the season, where the top six teams enter the phase where a team’s campaign is only guaranteed to be as long as their next match. They have in recent weeks encountered Tygerberg, Hamilton’s and Brackenfell, and the Pelicans, as the Milnerton-based club are known, were guaranteed to push the Bay to their limits.
Before the main event arrived, the Constantia club’s Under 20s, Thirds and Seconds all delivered convincing wins. False Bay’s Second and Third Teams are both unbeaten to date and head their respective tables, but a First XV loss would serve to take the shine off those victories somewhat if the hosts were allowed to have their way.
That was not to be as captain Thabo Ngcongo’s band of warriors effectively shut their hosts out in the first half, all but sealing the result by time the teams changed ends. Their dominance was built on the foundations laid by their forwards. In the scrums, the Bay’s front row of Msizi Zondi, Vlam van Vuuren and David Geffen put their opponents to the sword in the scrums, often scrumming their larger opponents back. Zondi impressed in this phase and then dazzled with his mobility, popping up in support in the most unexpected positions. His try in the first half demonstrated his nous in support and his twenty metre sprint to the line, leaving defenders scrambling, was impressive for its pace alone.
UniMil opened the score with a penalty by fullback Alroy Bran, but the Bay soon struck back with a try by wing Mustaqeem Jappie, converted by fullback Adnaan Oesman. The former was at his elusive best, keeping the defences busy while the latter was steady and a handful with the ball in hand in broken play. The try was a fifty metre counter-attack, ominous in its ruthless execution.
The hosts appeared overwhelmed by the intensity of the Bay’s first half play, a fast-paced, physical game aimed at putting them on the back foot and tiring their forwards out. Flamed-hair lock Graham Knoop, setting the standard in this policy of physicality scored the Bay’s second try.
False Bay’s nine point lead was then reduced to just six when Brand converted his second penalty but one never got the sense that the Pelicans were clawing their way into the game, False Bay’s defence solid and at times brutal. Centre Riaan O’Neil hit a rich vein of form, his defence outstanding and his attack both elusive and incisive. His industrious play was rewarded with a try which was converted by flyhalf Ewan Adams. The pivot had an outstanding game, distributing well and never shy to attack the advantage line.
After the break, the Bay extended their lead with Zondi’s try and Adams added the conversion together with a penalty kick. The hosts at 29-6 down never relented and fought gallantly, their determination rewarded with tries by wings Dean Tattersall and Lourenzo Shandt.
Next up for the Bay is UCT at Constantia. The students have returned from mid-year vacation determined to compete for top position on the SLA come the end of the round-robin stage. The Ikeys currently lie third on the table behind False Bay at the top and Durbell who are in second. The students do have one game in hand, which reflects a slightly skewed picture of the standing, but extrapolating the points would be churlish as the league is very competitive amongst the top seven, with Maties lurking in the shadows, having contested six of their fixtures to date, five behind the Bay.
UCT were made to work for their oats on Saturday in their match against Brackenfell, sealing a narrow 27-25 win in the closing stages of their game. There is a long friendship and rivalry between UCT and False Bay and Saturday’s contest is also played for the Mark Jordaan Trophy, in honour of a very popular stalwart of both clubs of the Eighties.
Kick off at Constantia is at 4pm but rugby enthusiasts would be well-advised to get there in time to watch the much anticipated Under 20 clash, guaranteed to enthral. This match starts at 1.30 pm.
All are welcome.