With the cancellation of False Bay’s pre-season friendly against Durbell due to the latter’s preparation for the Community Cup, filler fixtures had to be secured.
The Bay’s Seconds, Thirds and U20As participated in the Jan du Toit Day at Kraaifontein, while the FIFOs went to Masi Mphumele in Noordhoek for their rugby day, narrowly losing 18-22 to the Masi First XV.
The Thirds beat Kraaifontein 20-0 as an introduction to the Second XVs match against a Durbell Third XV. False Bay’s U20s then followed the Seconds and returned 17-5 victors against Kraaifontein’s U20s.
Coaches Ryan van Niekerk and Garth Turvey naturally used the fixture to tinker with combinations and evaluate depth of talent. Of course considering the disparity, if the Durbell Third XV were able to stretch the Bay Second XV, it would not auger well for the season ahead. Looking at the half time score, which was a narrow 15-13 lead to False Bay, it would not be remiss to gather a skewed impression.
The truth was in the watching of the contest. Played on a scorching hot day, False Bay dominated all facets of play and left a number of scores on the dry and dusty pitch. This is not a negative observation, what more would one expect from the first outing as a team?
Many clichéd boxes were ticked and the players enjoyed a contest which was invaluable in terms of situational play. Durbell harried at the breakdowns, tackled ferociously and launched attacks on the Bay defences in a true test of systems.
The closeness of the half time score was due to the prodigious boot of the Durbell flyhalf, who put everything over from within 50m and then intercepted a pass on his own 25, running 15 and punting ahead a kick which literally stopped and waited in the in-goal area for either defender Yusuf Williams or the Durbell right wing to get there first. The lanky and very fast right wing won by a half a length to score his team’s only try, which the flyhalf converted.
But even to the Durbell support, the Bay’s dominance was obvious and it was only through some handling errors and ordinary goal-kicking, that False Bay did not break the half century mark.
To mention handling errors almost criticises but this is by no means intended. These lapses came through innovative passing and running lines. When it worked, the impact of ball carrier offloading was there for all to see and either resulted in one of False Bay’s five tries or desperate defence robbing them of another.
Other facets were well under control so to speak. Scrums were exceptional as one would expect with the personnel available. Lineouts secure and a source of good attacking ball and a pressure zone on opposition put in. At the back, defence was solid and attacking lines well angled and executed.
Even the accuracy of the Bay’s game is where the coaches would expect to be at this stage of the season and as it progresses, so will the efficiency of this unit which will undoubtedly entertain with their play this season.
Mentioning names would only serve to make the Coach’s job more difficult considering it is pre-season friendly but many delighted and excited with their performances. No one disappointed. Gary Topkin was a brute on the charge. Hooker Grant Muller fresh out of last year’s Under 20s stood back for no one. Wesley de Wet put in some big hits. Justin Whittaker was all power and shone in the lineouts, while brother Andrew delivered his usual high quality performance.
Those coming on at half time soon got in on the action. Kenny Africa carried well and prop Robbie Lupini caught the eye with his loose play and solid scrumming, although suffering an apparently unfair yellow card for overzealous clearing of the ruck.
Eighthman Simon Askew was devastating off the back of the scrum and his offloads in the tackle led to some telling breaks by the runner on his shoulder. Sylvester Maquinha was ever present and versatile. At scrumhalf Tyrone Bloor a constant threat, bagging a brace of tries on the day. Yusuf Williams at pivot was controlled and Sheldon Chen Son exciting on the run with his frenetic and elusive attacking style.
Evergreens Hyron Thyse at centre and Brendell Brandt at fullback showed class and experience, the former constantly breaking the line and feeding those around him.
Mentioning these names does no justice to the others in the team and the coaches must feel encouraged that the squad is showing very real signs of gelling so early the journey, with everyone pulling their weight.
Try scorers for False Bay were Bloor (2), Chen Son, Brandt, Askew and Williams converted one.
Special mention should go to the referee who handled the match very well.
Next Saturday False Bay host UCT in the Annual Mark Jordaan Day. First matches kick off at 2pm at Constantia.