False Bay RFC overcame a determined Hamilton RFC at a wet, cold and blustery Stephen Grounds on Saturday. The final score was 5-0, with the scoreboard handlers not being bothered in the second half.
No Capetonian complains about the rain since our recent drought but the irony of last season’s delayed start due to the lack of rain on matchdays such as this wet Saturday is not lost. Of course, in terms of rugby, a soggy game levels the playing fields somewhat and as False Bay experienced a fortnight before, last minute scores can so easily wrest the result from one’s grasp. Saturday was similar to that experience at Constantia against Tygerberg.
The day got off to a cracking start with False Bay’s Under 20 outfit surprising their more fancied Hamilton opponents by winning their encounter 20-16. The Hamilton U20s are made up predominantly of the WP Academy players, ironically based in Tokai, and had only lost one match to date. Although the pitch was wet, the squall had not yet set in and the contest produced sparkling rugby. Another loss would have had a double-edged cutting effect on the team, that of two losses in a row and the other a more difficult run to qualifying for the knock-out stages.
“The win over Hamilton was massive for us in the context of the season”, says False Bay Under 20 coach Mark Lindenberg. “As a coaching staff we were immensely proud of the lads as they carried out the game plan really well, managing to maximize our strengths in tough conditions that did not really suite us. We got the right ball carriers into the right areas and kicked well to control the territory better than we have in the past”.
The young Bay lads were organized on defence which frustrated their opponents more as the match progressed as their strong ball carriers were nullified to a large degree.
It was a massive team effort, with a victory well deserved but Lindenberg will not allow his charges to get ahead of themselves, this Saturday’s opposition no pushovers at all.
As the afternoon progressed and the weather worsened, the Bay collected three out of three victories but it was clear from these matches that even in ideal conditions, the Sea Point outfit was not going to roll over and have their tummies tickled.
With a single try being the only score on the day, the effect of the weather is obvious but this was not the only factor influencing scoring opportunities. The defence of both teams was outstanding. Hammies were fired up, after all this was a derby and they still hurt from what they felt was an unfair result in their 10-10 draw the last time the two teams squared up at the same venue two years ago. Some big tackles from both sides were felt even in the clubhouse, Bay flank Lukhanyo Nomzanga and lock Graham Knoop outstanding.
In the scrums Hammies appeared to have the edge, even on the soggy pitch, their tighthead Ethienne Swannepoel the spearhead, backed up by hooker Mark Fairhurst and loose head Nathan Meilhon, who caught the eye in the loose too.
The Green Point Stadium towers over the pitch and as the weather worsened and light faded, it looked greyer and greater. Bay wing Danie Roux scored the only try of the game as he cleverly used the wet pitch to great effect by sliding over the goal line from a few meters out, the last time the referee needed to take his notepad out for points scored. Admittedly False Bay did have one or two other scoring opportunities but as the match progressed the ball became increasingly difficult to handle and credit is due to both teams, their handling of the orb outstanding in the conditions.
In the dying minutes of the game Hamilton were on attack and the opportunity to wrest the match from the Bay was very possible. They were awarded a few penalties which were goalable but the kicking conditions were atrocious and three points would not overtake the Bay’s five, and of course give their opposition the opposition to restart and play the game in their half. The Bay had been using the wind to great effect to pin their hosts in the own half for the majority of the second half, so a fightback from a restart was tough. Going for touch had its own challenges. The wind made the throw-in a lottery and the Bay’s defence, both around the edges and out wide, was outstanding and the hosts found themselves being rebuffed on each attack.
The referee called an end to a match that could have gone either way but which the analysis would show that it was a deserved win for False Bay.
“Each week is a big week”, says False Bay captain Thabo Ngcongo. “Saturday was a massive day for the club, it was the first time the First XV won at Hammies in 15 years and I think it was the first time ever that every single team walked away with a win at Hammies”.
False Bay host Brackenfell at Constantia on Saturday. The Bay head the SLA and the visitors are in fifth position, another tough encounter for the Constantia outfit. Matches kick off a half an hour earlier than normal with the Under 20s starting at 1pm and the main game at 3.30pm. All are welcome.