It was expected to be a massive clash between two unbeaten teams at the weekend and it was False Bay who hung onto the unbeaten tag when they trumped Tygerberg 30-20 at Constantia. The half-time score was 18-8 in favour of the home side.
Well over 2 000 enthusiastic supporters from both clubs, in equal measure, crammed into the Philip Herbstein grounds. Tygerberg, fresh from their midweek contest against UCT, were playing in their third match in seven days and were expected to wilt a little against the Bay who were coming off a bye.
From the first shrill blast of the referee’s whistle to the last, the contest at Constantia was every bit as exciting as anticipated. Played in a good spirit, the two teams threw everything they had at each other, neither standing back for the other, delivering quality rugby throughout.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring when centre Riaan O’Neil scythed through the Tygers defence to round off a move he had started 40 metres earlier.
The Zimbabwe Sevens International impressed throughout the contest. He was a handful on attack and solid on defence.
A few minutes later, eighthman Ryan Olivier crashed through the centre to score a try of brilliant simplicity off a set piece. Fullback Adnaan Osman converted.
The visiting support were silenced and the home crowd were left wondering if the “seven-day bogie” had hit Tygers. They weren’t left to wonder for long as the visitors almost immediately struck back with a try by flank Dale Wilson after they opted for a line kick off a penalty.
The Tygers roared, placing themselves within striking distance of the Bay. The Constantia outfit knew all too well that they had to put some daylight on the scoreboard as it was clear Tygerberg had no intention of capitulating and would be inspired by a narrow scoreline. They showed patience in execution but at times their accuracy was lacking resulting in wasted scoring opportunities.
Osman converted two penalties for the Bay and Alroy Brandt swept one over to give the half time score of 18-8.
The Constantia team started the second half with new purpose and vigour, but it was the visitors who scored as Brandt crashed over in the corner.
The Tyger was amongst the pigeons and Bay supporters were nervously chewing their fingernails as their team’s lead was halved. The travelling support by contrast raised their vocal intensity, lifting their team’s spirits.
A five-point game with half an hour still to go and Tygerberg were showing no signs of fatigue. False Bay showed no signs of panic though, focusing on their systems and accuracy, working their way back into Tyger territory, recycling the ball and testing defences.
Their patience paid dividends when flank Jody Reineke crashed over at the end of a move which involved a number of phases. The score gave False Bay a 12-point lead and the contest appeared to be over until an error in execution of a clearance kick by a flyhalf in a prop’s body was charged down and Brandt collected his brace of tries as he capitalised on the gifted possession. Flyhalf Steward Jacobs converted and a five point lead against a team with their backs up was way too close for comfort.
It was a piece of rugby brilliance which started in False Bay’s own half that took the game away from Tygerberg. Replacement scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck started a counter attack, fed to wing Mustaqueem Jappie, who challenged the Tygerberg defences for 20 metres and then passed to Frylinck who had looped around.
With 20 metres and lots of work to go, the dynamo sniffed the opportunity and finished off with a swan dive which sounded the end of the Tygers challenge.
It was a quality contest with no quarter given, relentless attack met with resolute defence. Bonecrushing tackles contrasted by deft handling and elusive footwork from both teams. It was a result that could have gone either way and in the words of the visiting executive, Tygerberg gave their all but on the day they were beaten by a team which deserved the victory.
The crowd may dispute that summation depending on the ferocity of their passion for their club, but no one can deny the entertainment value of the contest.
For Tygerberg, Brandt, centre Niezaar Roos, Jacobs and Wilson caught the eye throughout the contest. For False Bay Osman, O’Neill, Reyneke and captain Graham Knoop were outstanding, while Frylinck’s cameo role broke the hearts of the visitors. The flyhalf in a prop’s body is still paying penance.
False Bay travel to Rosmead Avenue on Saturday to face Primrose. Kick-off is at 4pm. Their next home game is on Saturday June 4 when they face Hamiltons at Constantia.
* Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.