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by Jon Harris


DirectAxis False Bay RFC stunned Durbanville-Bellville when they downed the National Community Cup Champions at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 26-20 after the home side led 23-13 at the break.


Before the contest started, both teams observed a minute’s silence in honour of club stalwart, Francois Hechter who unexpectedly passed away earlier that week.


Unbeaten in their four SLA matches leading up to this fixture, DirectAxis False Bay’s Cinderella season was expected to be placed under fine scrutiny by Durbell, who were playing in only their third match of the competition.  The visitors are a complete team which plays accurate, fast and physical rugby. Their big forwards are experienced, fit and tough with a simple but effective gameplan of flooding the breakdown to turn the ball over and with scrumhalf Marnus Hugo who can take the ball up or clear from the back as efficiently, Durbell was always going to be a tough prospect for the Constantia outfit.


As we know, it takes two to make a contest and the large crowd in attendance were treated to a spectacle of rugby which was a fine advert for the Club game in the Western Province.


The opening few minutes were a typical sparring session. Raymond Olivier, Durbell’s kicker sounded an early warning to the Bay as he narrowly missed a 40 metre attempt, which would have cleared the bars even if he had placed the ball on the halfway line. His accuracy was a little awry on that occasion but he calmly slotted a penalty a few minutes later to open the scoring.


Almost from the restart DirectAxis False Bay centre Jason Pretorius, who had an outstanding game, charged down a clearance punt by flyhalf Janco Gunter, which fellow centre Byron Mohr was quick to snap up and trot over for a try. Bay flyhalf, Andri Claassen was not successful with the conversion but did slot a penalty a few minutes later to give his team a five point lead over the visitors.


Durbanville-Bellville immediately set about negating the lead, using their powerful forwards to good effect, working their way up into False Bays red zone through a series of phases. Hooker Hanno Snyman swivelled off the back of a driving maul for a try which Olivier converted to take a 2 point lead.


The intensity of the rugby was immense, contact was brutal and pace was at full throttle. DirectAxis False Bay’s defence has been impressive this season and was simply outstanding on Saturday. It needed to be with the intensity and purpose which the visitors showed. The Bay scrambled defences when necessary, pinched or rushed defence on other occasion and always used the double-hit at collision point, which proved to be a trump and allowed the home side advantage when proceedings were at deuce. Here Brent “Slinkie” Stevens continued his impressive form, fearsome in contact and always crossing the advantage line when in possession.


Moments after the visitors took the lead, the Bay almost wrested the lead back when fullback Mustaqim Jappie collected the ball on his own ten metre line and ghosted his way through a number of tackles, offloading an inside pass which was dubiously slapped down by a defender just metres from the Durbell line. Jappie possesses silky skills, fantastic hands and a step which befuddles the most wily of tacklers. He is a newcomer to SLA and is making an indelible mark at this level, fast becoming a darling of the home crowd.


It is however totally unfair to single out individuals or their efforts, and if that is to be done, it has to be in the context of a specific act in the game. An exception to that rule has to be Ashley Wells, a flyhalf in a prop’s body. He displayed the full array of skills with which he is blessed and popped up literally all over the pitch, his organisation of defence impeccable on the day.


Claassen regained the lead for the home side with another well-taken penalty. DirectAxis False Bay then stunned the visitors with a brace of tries which had them reeling before the break. Pretorius scored what was certainly the try-of-the-day. Started on the extreme left side of the pitch, the ball was handled by a number of players and eventually given to bustling wing, Danie Roux on the right flank. Roux, with forty metres to the line and less than five of width to overcome four defenders, covered thirty of those metres and negated four attempted tackles before offloading to Pretorius. A few minutes later, Bay captain Michael Poppmeier scored off a set piece, which Claassen converted. Olivier had earlier raised the flags for a penalty attempt and the teams changed at 23-13.


Durbell were always going to be a totally different kettledrum of potjiekos in the second half. With scrumhalf Hugo a constant threat around the edges, their forwards started stringing some high quality phases together and with the help of some injudicious play by the home side, in which they earned three yellow cards, Durbell started to apply pressure. As in the opening stanza, the Bay defences remained resolute and it was in fact the referee who broke their defences when he awarded Durbanville-Bellville a penalty try, False Bay having collapsed a maul on the way to the line. The try was fair but the assistant referee’s call for foul play by a Durbell player was overruled and the try stood when in fact it should have been rescinded.


Indeed the intensity of the contest appeared to be taking a toll on the man in the middle, no wonder as it was at melting point, not in terms of foul play but rather the quality of the contest. The more pressure Durbell seemed to pile onto False Bay, the more the home side stood rock solid, even with thirteen men on the pitch.


As the visitors drew within 7 points of the Constantia outfit, whose numbers were dwindling, migrating to the plastic chairs in the sin bin, the more nervous the home support became. Durbanville-Bellville upped their efforts even further but were met with stubborn resistance. Replacement flank Andrew Whittaker epitomised these efforts, setting about the field like a wind-up toy. But it was a wonderful cameo performance by replacement flank Willie Kotze which deserves a mention. In the dying minutes he made two steals which were telling in the context of the game. First he got himself under the ball as the visitors drove over the line and then as Durbell began to rumble forward in a maul, he worked his way through to rob the ball carrier of the ball with a power display of upperbody strength.


Moments later the contest was over and the celebrations began.


Outstanding players for Durbell were Hugo, flyhalf Gunter, Olivier who impressed with his counter-attacking skills, flank Marius White who was a constant threat at the breakdown and lock Adie Theron who won quality lineout possession and shone in the loose.


DirectAxis False Bay’s halfbacks Ridhaa Damon and Andri Claassen again caught the eye. Pretorius and Jappie were exciting with ball in hand. Wells had his best game in a Bay shirt, eighthman Ryan Olivier again stood out and locks Poppmeier and Graham Knoop were a force in tight and loose.


DirectAxis False Bay have a bye on Saturday and then host Villager at Constantia on Saturday 30 May at 4pm. Games start at 1.30pm and the excitement of a Southern Suburbs derby between longtime rivals returns to Constantia after a short absence.


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