In an entertaining encounter at Constantia, DirectAxis False Bay eventually subdued a determined Uni-Milnerton to win 49-27. The half time score was 21-15 to the home side.
The final score is no indicator regarding proceedings nor dominance. The visitors have produced sparkling rugby in their previous seven matches and were poised to cause an upset at Fortress Constantia, the affectionate name for the Bay’s home pitch. Judging by their start, this certainly was on the cards and with the double zeroes displayed on the scoreboard for the opening quarter, Uni-Mil’s intentions were clear.
The visiting pack were fiery. Massive and confident in their set pieces, they posed a threat to the hosts, rocked that morning with the late withdrawal of their captain, Graham Knoop. It was news that would test the home team, as if the “Pelicans” as UniMil are known, was not challenge enough. False Bay coach Johnno van der Walt has effectively involved a broad base of players, which he has had to increasingly depend upon with recent injuries and Saturday was an excellent example.
On the one hand, there was a rampant UniMil who swamped the Bay in the first half with strong forward play and enterprising verve amongst the backs. Flyhalf Adrian Roberts was not afraid to run at the advantage line, which gave his outside backs some extra room for attack. Up front lock Roderick Dalton secured quality possession and eighthman Ruan Vermaak was not afraid to carry the ball. The visitors broke the scoreboard duck with a penalty kick by replacement pivot, Monty Dumond.
False Bay did not panic and stung their guests with a fifty-metre counter-attack started by fullback Adnaan Oesman. He handed the ball to centre Riaan O’Neil who had lots of work to do before putting scrumhalf Niaaz Johnson away for the score. Oesman converted and the visitors were reminded of the threat the home team posed on attack. Minutes later, flyhalf Siya Alem chipped over the Pelicans’ rush defence to collect and score under the posts. The conversion made it 14-3 and then before long Johnson scored the second of his brace within a blink of an eye UniMil were reeling at 21-3.
Lesser teams would have capitulated at this stage, especially as False Bay swamped their opponents, their forwards climbing in with passion. Throughout the contest their pack shone, lock Jan Ferreira and prop Wesley Futter producing yeomen work. Hooker Roan Dalzell, prop Msizi Zondi and the loose trio of Laiiq Felton, Thabo Ngongo and Ryan Olivier were outstanding too. The visitors were in no mood to give in so easily. Their forwards stepped up a gear and they struck back just before the break with two tries which stung.
First scrumhalf Lourens Pearson, who was outstanding on the day, escaped capture to score and then big centre Wion Robbertse sliced through the Bay defence to bring his team within six points, after Dumond converted one of these.
After the break, the heartbeat of the home support, if by now racing, redlined when Vermaak scored a try which was converted by Dumond. The goal gave the visitors the lead and convinced them that they had it within themselves to depart the field of play victorious.
The Bay did not panic and set about subduing their opponents. Replacement loose forward Michael Botha was at the vanguard of defence and attack, revelling in the challenge of the fightback. Zondi scored the first of his team’s second half tries, with Felton following suit minutes later. Futter was rewarded for his work rate with a deserved score and with Oesman in fine form, the Bay doubled their score within a short while.
With the Bay converting a one point deficit to a twenty-point lead within a few minutes, the threat of the visitors could surely be expected to subside. But not this team. Wing Shane Grundeling completed a well worked attack and scored for the visitors, a stark reminder to the hosts that there was no taking the foot off the pedal, not that that is their style.
Wing Mustaqim Jappie completed the try tally for the home side, which Oesman converted, to rack up the final score.
It brought an end to a highly entertaining contest, the brightly shining scoreboard unfair to the value the Pelicans brought to the spectacle. The home side’s efforts were perhaps unheralded for effort. Suffering a number of injuries over the course of the match, they played the last fifteen minutes with fourteen men as they reached their maximum allowable replacements. With a rampant UniMil striving for victory, their resolve and character showed and they banked the five league points.
False Bay travel to Florida Park to face Tygerberg on Saturday. First games are at 1.20 with the main game kicking off at 4pm.