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9 September 2017

Photos: Courtesy Gavin Withers Photography

False Bay delivered mixed results in a double-header played at Constantia on Saturday. In the President’s Cup semi-final played as a curtain-raiser to the Gold Cup opener, the Bay’s second-stringers acquitted themselves well against a full-strength Hamiltons RFC but were soundly beaten nevertheless. Then, in the main match, False Bay’s Gold Cup outfit absorbed the pressure of a determined Roses United of Wellington in the first quarter to run out easy 43-19 winners.


In President’s Cup match, the Bay started well against their Sea Point rivals. There was a glimmer of hope that an upset was on the cards as a determined Bay outfit took the game to their opponents who appeared to be unsettled during this phase. That was not to last long as the visitors found their rhythm, with flyhalf Shane Vallender and eighthman Neil Cleghorne in the vanguard, tightened the screws and effectively shut the home side out in a 59-15 victory.


It is the second consecutive year that False Bay’s depth was tested with the main squad contesting the Gold Cup, SA Rugby’s national club championship, double-banking with the President’s Cup, the post-season knockout competition played in the Western Province.


With a sizeable crowd, including more than a smattering of visiting support, in attendance, the teams took to the field for the match of the day. The two clubs had met previously in a Presidents Cup match in 2015, when the Bay romped home but no one in attendance was expecting a repeat of that match. The visitors, with former Springbok Cornel Hendricks on the right wing, had come to play rugby and defeat was not a part of their plans. Hendricks’s presence was appreciated by the crowd, validation of the position club rugby holds in the landscape of the South African game.


The big flyer was utilised in a dual positional role as he shifted to left wing on defence in an attempt to contain a rampant Danie Roux who bagged four tries on the day. Sadly Hendricks’ attacking opportunities were limited and the attendance crowd were robbed of seeing his powerful running on the day. In reality it was the Bay’s sound defence which limited Hendricks’s opportunities as the ball seldom went past the centres.


The Wellingtonians exerted substantial pressure on their hosts in the opening quarter, ending level on the scoreboard after the opening twenty minutes. Captain Graham Knoop and his Bay troops are a mature and organized bunch and all too aware that a rugby match is made of a lot more time than that, and they absorbed the pressure during this stanza and then turned the screws which had their boisterous travelling support stunned.


The Constantia outfit had secured the four-try bonus point by time half time was called by guest referee, Argentian Damien Schneider. The whistle man had an outstanding match, managed proceedings exceptionally well with a willingness to let the game flow while maintaining a firm grip. The bonus point was one thing, a full house of five was paramount and the half time score of 24-7 was not going to be enough if the home team slipped into neutral in the second stanza.


Coach Johnno van der Walt kept his team focused and by the hour mark, the Bay had wrapped up the match with a further two tries. That said, Roses United never gave up and kept the pressure on the home side. They were full value for their efforts and never gave up. They did reduce the deficit to 19 points through tries by Damian Engeldoe and Elshaun Davids before Demolition Danie powered his way over for the last of his four tries and the Bay ultimately finished easy 43-19 winners.


Gold Cup 2017 could not be more different to their 2016 campaign for False Bay. An unknown quantity last year, the Bay also had a reformatted competition to mask their presence. Previously the Gold Cup was a tournament played over a short period of time at a central venue, but 2016 saw the competition change format to four pools of four team, with a top eight knockout phase. This season has the Constantia club tagged as a team to beat, having been losing finalists last season and van der Walt and his wily assistant coaches have their hands full in the pool stage.


The team board a coach on Thursday night to start a twelve hour journey to Kathu in the Northern Cape to face IMT Sishen on Saturday. The steel miners are guaranteed to be a physically challenging team, and Knoop’s charges will need to be focused on the task at hand to return victorious.


False Bay host Namibian Champions Western Suburbs on Saturday 30 September at 3pm.

- Jon Harris

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