Stor-Age False Bay RFC came back from a 0-10 half time deficit to run out narrow winners against the University of Western Cape at Constantia on Saturday. The final score was 19-17.
Displaying a distinct rustiness in their game, the residue of playing only two matches in seven weeks, the Bay contrived to make things difficult against a strong UWC outfit, who occupy a bottom half of the table position which belies their ability and worth as a team.
Forced to make a positional change at the eleventh hour with regular flyhalf Andri Claasen withdrawing because of a side injury, the mercurial Ridhaa Damon was shifted to the pivot position and promising talent, Darren Rix started at scrumhalf.
The Bay last played a fortnight before this match against Hamiltons, with the scheduled match after that encounter against NNK being postponed because of inclement weather. This appeared to leave the home team a little undercooked in terms of match play on the day. Visitors “Udubz” had no intention of letting the hosts off and took the contest to False Bay, with aggressive defence and a willingness to run the ball. Adding to this, the accuracy of the Bay’s execution was wayward with handling errors conspiring to break whatever momentum they attempted to build.
Indeed early on in the contest the Constantia outfit seemed to make inroads with their familiar pattern of bashing the ball up through their big forwards, creating some space for their backs to exploit on attack. Here lock Graham Knoop was at the vanguard as has been his wont throughout the season. But the defence of the students stood firm and with their loose forwards ferociously contesting the breakdown, especially captain and flank Matthew Ford, they frustrated any Bay attempts at phase play and errors soon ensued out of frustration. Had the home side limited these, their scoring opportunities would have been plentiful and their exciting backs would have been given quality possession and space to exploit.
Perhaps it was the ploy of moving the ball to flyhalf and then playing back to a hard-running forward running on the inside which also created many of the errors. It appeared to be the case as False Bay resorted to more traditional pick and go type driving and made ground aplenty in the second half.
Nevertheless, UWC deserve the credit they received for contesting the game through structured defence and a willingness to run the ball. Their flyhalf Quade Langeveldt, was calm and in control and his boot and decision making had a positive effect on his team’s performance.
Both of the UWC tries were scored off False Bay errors and their ruthlessness in exploiting these was a major factor which kept their hopes of an upset victory alive until the final whistle. Their first try came as a result of a slicing break through the middle on the halfway line by centre Calvin Wiener, with fullback James Verity-Amm dotting down almost under the poles to the dismay of the home support. Langeveldt converted and then slotted a penalty to give his team a 10 point lead.
The Bay forwards were beginning to dominate the set pieces, the scrums in particular and eighthman Ryan Olivier crashed over for his first of a brace of tries off one of these.
Bay coach Johnno van der Walt must surely have had stern words for his charges at the break as they seemed to display a determination not always evident in the first half. Sadly errors still dogged their play but at least they were now beginning to capitalise on the domination of their forwards in the scrums. Their first half front row of Jonny Simpson, Vlam van Vuuren and Frank Charlie were dominant and certainly put their opponents to the sword. In the second half Charlie was replaced by Roberto Lupini with Simpson moving to tighthead.
The Bay took five consecutive tightheads, seemingly pushing their opponents back with ease, Lupini especially effective through his powerfully built, compact frame and tight technique. Olivier dived over for a try off a scrum after one of these heels against the head and Damon converted, to give False Bay the lead for the first time in the contest. A few minutes later Lupini was rewarded for his busy play with his maiden SLA try and Damon made it 19-10.
From the restart the Bay erred in not collecting the ball and a cruel bounce was collected by UWC scrumhalf Jason Cloete, who had an outstanding match, and fed centre Wiener to run 30 metres for a score which made it a two-point contest after Langeveldt eased the ball between the uprights.
UWC’s attempts to snatch victory in the dying seconds were in vain as the Bay defence held firm. False Bay themselves did not creep into a defensive shell and tried to bag the fourth try for a bonus point.
The visitors may feel that they deserved victory and even the staunchest Bay supporter would not argue the point too vehemently. Conversely, False Bay would contend that they triumphed despite being a little off key, proof of their quality. That too is a valid point not many would deny.
For Stor-Age False Bay flank Justin van Winkel and van Vuuren had outstanding games, as did Andrew Whittaker who carried the ball well. Locks Knoop and Mike Poppmeier produced sparkling moments as did centres Jason Pretorius and Jaques van Staden. Wings Justin Fillies and Taliep Johnson excited with little possession.
For UWC eighthman Patrick O’Brien joins his team mates already mentioned, Cloete, Langeveldt, Verity-Amm, Ford and Wiener as their team’s outstanding players in a strong team effort.
Stor-Age False Bay travel to the Green Mile at UCT on Staurday to face the current logleaders. Kick off is at 4pm.
STOR-AGE FALSE BAY DENY UWC
by Jon Harris