In a blustery squall, hosts False Bay stunned Stellenbosch University to paddle in to a 21-8 victory in Constantia. The Bay led 8-3 at the break.
False Bay are not unaccustomed to victory over the Mighty Maties in the past 10 years, their record probably reflecting a greater win than loss score card.
What is extremely unique, probably the first in living memory, is the four victories out of four matches on the day over Stellenbosch. A loss for the Maties’s first team is not a regular event, and when it does happen, victories over their opponents in the supporting programme is guaranteed. Saturday saw what can only be described as an unverified first in local club rugby, the no-win return on the day for Stellenbosch.
Starting off with the under-20 clash, a mouth-watering clash on the programme, which lived up to expectations. The Bay disappointed themselves in the opening half, an error-ridden display which saw them cross with a 0-5 deficit.
A few minutes into the second half, their task became exponentially more difficult as they were reduced to fourteen men, the result of a red card. The Bay Boys dug deep, tigerishly defending their territory with passion and then stunning their guests with a well-taken try to clinch the first victory of the day.
A few minutes later, on the main field, the referee in the third team clash drew the curtain on another close encounter, and False Bay’s thirds stood tall, 14-7 victors.
The Bay’s Second XV were unbeaten going into their clash with the Maties Second XV, wearing the easily recognisable Victorians strip. The home team certainly showed some jitters throughout the contest but managed to hang on to their unbeaten tag with a 18-12 victory.
It is not the first time this season that the main contest arrives and the Bay are three out of three by the time the first whistle is blown for the main contest, and it is not the first time either that the victories stopped just there, so hope among the sparse crowd was reserved.
Matches on the day all kicked off earlier to allow spectators and players the opportunity to watch the much-anticipated Springbok clash, a switch which allowed this match to take place in relatively calm, dry conditions compared to the massive downpour which arrived at the time of normal commencement time of the second half.
Instead, those braving the conditions on the sidelines were treated to an enthralling contest which dished up entertaining rugby despite the soggy conditions.
False Bay, chasing a top-two finish in the round robin stages, were a well-prepared outfit, comfortable in their respective roles, while Maties were perhaps a little underdone, having recently resumed their campaign after returning from a mid-year break.
From the outset, it would be fair to identify the False Bay front row as the foundation on which this victory was built, this despite the loss of David Geffen in the first minute through industry. Forgive the tangent, but the front row including replacements, put the Maties premier line to the sword, right to the final minute. This dominance served to not only provide a sound base but inspired the twelve others on the pitch to greater heights.
The Bay took the lead, courtesy of a penalty by stand-in pivot, Dylan Frylinck, in the absence of the injured maestro, Ewan Adams. The Bay forwards, with marauding locks, Godwin Mangenja and Busanda Mabena at the fore, had Maties on the back foot. They extended their lead to eight with a try in the corner by fullback Luke Jacobs at the end of a well-worked phase.
Inspired, the Bay continued to attack. Stung, Maties did what they do best – counter-attack and raise the intensity. They were rebuffed by outstanding defence, another outstanding feature of the home side’s play on the day. They managed to claw some ground under the belly when flyhalf, Jurian Matthee converted a penalty, giving the score line its half-time look.
Just a few minutes before the break, the heavy rain heralded its arrival with a blustery squall, which grew heavier as the match progressed, yet somehow these two quality outfits succeeded in delivering quality rugby in quite atrocious conditions.
For a 15-minute spell, Maties had the Bay pinned against the wall, only to be frustrated by resolute defence. That determination could not hold forever, and Maties levelled the scores with a pushover try in the corner by scrumhalf Christiaan Smith. The platform for a typical Maties throttling of their opposition was set. The score at 8-8, wind at their backs, and the renowned Stellenbosch killer-instinct poised for execution, a last quarter route was what all previous scripts read.
Pinned by the weather and swarming opponents, False Bay defended relentlessly, clawing their way back onto attack and Frylinck gave his team a six-point lead with two penalties on separate excursions into the Maties quarter-zone.
A six-point lead was far from enough against the renowned Maties, even in near-storm conditions which had descended upon Constantia, but six soon became thirteen when replacement centre, and new daddy, Muji van der Hoven, chased down a kick at the end of an attack that had started in the Bay’s half, and scored an exhilarating try, converted by Frylinck.
Drenched referee Rasta Rashivenga called an end to proceedings and False Bay had completed an extremely rare clean-sweep over Stellenbosch University.
False Bay travel to Groote Schuur on Saturday to face Ikeys. Kick-off will be at 4pm, but as earlier described, the thrill is in the full programme.
• Jon Harris is a member of False Bay Rugby Football Club.