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23 October 2016

DirectAxis False Bay RFC progressed to the final of this year’s Gold Cup when they overcame defending champions Durbanville-Bellville in their semi-final at Durbanville on Sunday. The final score was 41-35 after the visitors led 24-6 at the break.


It was a series of firsts for Gold Cup with both semi-finals taking place on a Sunday and being televised live to boot. The Cape derby was first to kick off in the early afternoon of a hot Spring day.  Knockout stages can so easily produce dour rugby as all that is required of a team to progress is one more point than the opposition, no bonus points for the number of tries scored or the losing margin. Playoffs tend to be a battle of attrition played off the opposition’s errors.

On this hot afternoon, the estimated crowd of five thousand were treated to some scintillating rugby in a contest which underlines the entertainment value of the club game and echoes the clarion call of this segment of SA Rugby of its return to a meaningful role in the game in the country. The club game in the Western Province is believed to be the best and this contest strongly supported this popular assertion.


Hosts Durbell, serial late starters to a season appeared to be peaking at the right team and home ground advantage seemed to be the deal breaker for the pundits. False Bay by contrast are newcomers at this level and after securing the Super League A in September, the cynical view was that the Gold Cup may be a step too far or too high. This enthralling combination encouraged local club fans from across the Peninsula to attend in their thousands, many without favour and eager to enjoy a contest of note, and they were not disappointed.


With one of the country’s top referees, the popular Rasta Rashivenge, in attendance, the players knew that little leeway would be on offer especially with able assistant referees Egon Seconds and Francois Pretorius prowling the touchlines and the experienced Joey Salmans as TMO, an unknown feature to most of the players. The Constantia outfit had a number of decisions go against them in the opening stages, quite fairly, as they courted mischief specifically the off-side line. It was Durbell who opened the scoring from a penalty kick by flyhalf Tiaan Radyn.


From the restart the Bay placed their opponents under pressure, their efforts met with sound defence and a solid clearance kick by Radyn. From the ensuing lineout, False Bay hit up and folded out twice, sucking the defence in and with some slick passing wing Danie Roux was able to waltz over unhindered for his team’s first try. Flyhalf Andri Claasen converted and then later added three points with a penalty conversion.


False Bay maintained the pressure on their opponents, especially amongst the forwards where the rolling maul was used to great effect. Referee Rasta awarded the Bay a penalty eight metres from the Durbell line for a scrum violation, the ever-alert Ridhaa Damon, spotting a disorganised defensive line, cantered over for the Bay’s second score. Claasen made it a goal.


Durbell were determined to strike back and found themselves on attack deep in the twenty two metre area of their guests but relinquished possession, eighthman Ryan Olivier effecting a turnover. From the counter-attack the visitors took the ball up, swinging it “cost-to-coast” as an expansive move is popularly called. Centre Riaan O’Neill, spotting a gap, sliced through the Durbell defence, his swan dive to score in no ways matching the gracefulness of his forty metre run. Claasen converted to give the Bay their half time tally. Radyn had earlier converted a second penalty for the hosts.


Durbell are renowned as a fourth quarter team. They become stronger as the match progresses, almost unplayable in the last twenty minutes as they build dominance. False Bay were all too aware of this, their bench crucial to negating Durbell’s customary second-half stranglehold.


Within a minute of the restart the hosts had struck through a try by centre Etienne Swarts. False Bay in no small measure contributed to this well-taken score as they fluffed the kick off receipt, the ball spouting loose and becoming the property of the hungry “Durbies’ marauders. Uncharacteristically, Radyn missed the conversion, the swirling wind complicating matters somewhat. Claasen clawed back three points when he converted a penalty for False Bay but minutes later Swarts stepped inside the cross-covering Bay defence and powered his way over for the second of his brace of tries. Fullback Raymond Olivier converted and then added another three to his team’s tally with a penalty conversion and Durbell were six points behind, the last quarter looming.


The Bay maintained their shape and worked their way back into their opponents’ quarter. Replacement scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck, a ball of energy and ever the opportunist, managed to raise the bar even higher than Damon had set in the first half and his industrious efforts paid off when he dummied and scored alongside the poles. Claasen converted and the Bay extended their lead to thirteen points, a two-score buffer in real terms.


Durbies were not interested in capitulating. They’re a proud and determined bunch and were intent on banking a Gold Cup double. They struck back with a try by captain and prop Ashton Constant, who had an outstanding game on the day. Spotting a gap the size of a barn door, the burly scrum anchor picked up the ball from a ruck and sprinted for a 25 metre score which pleased all in attendance.


Six points the difference and the hosts, the very busy flank Brendon Esterhuizen in the vanguard, announced their intentions. False Bay struck back with an exceptional try by replacement flank Willie Coetzee, who cut through a number of tackles and stretched over the line to apply pressure on the whitewash. Fullback Adnaan Osman added the two and the Bay’s thirteen point lead was restored with barely four minutes left to play.


Whatever cliché is most fitting, Durbell were not finished. Esterhuizen reached through a solid defensive line as Durbell repeatedly drove around the edges, Mr Rashivenge not requiring any assistance in deciding a fair score. Olivier converted and Durbell were again within six points of victory. One dropped ball, one intercept and the Bay were going home, Durbell travelling the following week.


False Bay’s character showed and they worked their way out of danger and time was called on an enthralling encounter of exceptional quality.


For False Bay prop Ashley Wells, locks Brandon Wood and Graham Knoop and flank Brent Stevens stood out amongst the forwards. At the back Damon, Frylinck, Claasen and O’Neill caught the eye.


For Durbell, Constant scrummed well and enjoyed a number of good carries, eighthman Conray Pretorius and centre Swarts were outstanding. Esterhuysen would probably have received man of the match had there been such an award, he was sublime.


False Bay now travel to Rustenberg to face Impalas at Impala Park on Saturday. The match will be televised live by Supersport at 3-15pm.


Meanwhile False Bay’s Sevens team, Blitzbay, continued their good form, winning three out of four of their Round Three matches at Goodwood Sports Ground on Saturday. They faltered in their fourth match, losing in the last minute to the accomplished University of Western Cape.


Round Four of the WP Sevens takes place at Goodwood Sports ground on Saturday from 10am.  


- Scribe: Jon Harris



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