In the first match of a fun-filled, exciting day of Club rugby held at the bastion of the province Newlands, Durbell ran out close winners over a determined and competitive False Bay in the Under 20 final. The final score was 27-20 after the Bay held a 13-8 half time lead.
The President’s Cup is a knockout competition played between qualifying teams in the top leagues of the Union, culminating in a “day of finals” on the hallowed Newlands turf, a highlight of any young amateur rugby player’s career. Prior to the professional era Club rugby was keenly contested and Newlands was the weekly venue of 5 inter-club matches played on two fields in front of throngs of avid followers of the game.
Club rugby seldom features on a Newlands match-day programme and when given the opportunity it is undoubtedly a highlight of a club player’s career. Kudos to the Western Province Rugby Union for this initiative and a day filled with attractive, running rugby played over four matches in glorious Spring sunshine. The Under 20 teams of Durbell and False Bay certainly set the tone with a fast-paced and entertaining encounter.
The Northern Suburbs outfit were favourites, having easily beaten the Constantia lads in their early season match-up but False Bay were in no mood to capitulate and allow the Cup to find its first home in Durbanville.
In the opening quarter most of the match was contested between the two 25s and it was False Bay who showed more enterprise. Their flyhalf Cyprian Ainslie ran just about everything and they counter-attacked from any position. Durbell however, were the first to break the duck on the scoreboard when flyhalf Henri du Toit calmly slotted a penalty. Du Toit was the standout player for his team and his influence grew as the contest progressed.
Ainslie leveled the scores with a penalty conversion for the Bay but Durbell regained the lead with a well-worked try by right wing Jaysen Collins. The Durbell supporters were agog and an air of expectancy that a feisty challenge had been broken permeated amongst them.
The Bay, with scrumhalf Darren Rix and flank Shaun Garbers at the vanguard were in no mood to surrender. Rix, a First XV standout player of this season was a constant threat to the advantage line with his sniping runs, while Garbers harried and hassled at the point of breakdown, pilfering his fair share of turnovers.
A few minutes after the Durbies try, False Bay’s left wing Anthony Jones rounded his opponent to give his team the lead at the end of a breathtaking counter-attack started 40 metres out. Ainslie converted and a few minutes later banked a penalty to give False Bay an unexpected half time lead.
Almost immediately after the restart, Rix sniped around the edge of a ruck, unexpectedly catching the Durbell defence off guard and scored in the corner with Ainslie’s conversion giving the Bay a 12 point lead.
Durbell were stunned and testimony to their class they struck back. Their forwards began to establish a semblance of dominance which took slow effect on the Bay who appeared to be wilting in the midday heat. Compounding this, the departure of False Bay hooker Dihaan van Staden necessitated Garbers’ shift to the middle of the front row and robbed the Constantia team of their prime source of turnover ball.
To imply however that the Durbell comeback was a gift from their opponents would be churlish. With lock RP de Beer winning prime lineout possession and number eight Barno van der Westhuizen carrying well, Durbies systematically took control of the contest. Flyhalf du Toit grew in stature, his physical stature and ability to break the line similar to that of Bok pivot Handre Pollard.
Centre Wesley Cupido scored a scintillating try and moments later barnstorming Barno crashed over in the corner and du Toit leveled the scores. Each of the tries on the day were deserving of any frivolous superlatives but Durbell’s winning score was something special. Du Toit received the ball on the half and ran laterally to draw the defence and at the perfect moment, he sliced through the Bay defence to feed wing Arthur Festus, who had a bit to do before scoring the winning try. Du Toit converted.
The score was a fair reflection of proceedings although some may argue that the 20-20 deadlock would have been a more apt result.
Other standout players for False Bay were lock Tjoppie Louwrens, eighthman Reinard Spreeth and centre Mike Midgley, while Durbell were well served by flank Hannes Stofberg, scrumhalf Marshall Daars and fullback Francois Botha.
The 2014 season has now come to a close. An inter club Sevens tournament will take place at Brookside over the