In an odd twist to the season, False Bay RFC lost their unbeaten status not once but twice on the same day. With their senior squad travelling to Brakpan for their Gold Cup fixture, the Bay’s depth was tested when they hosted Stellenbosch University’s Victorians in a President’s Cup semi-final at Constantia.
Both teams represented their club as the First XV in their hard-fought defeats. Brakpan were 26-19 victors on their home pitch while Victorians were made to work for their 29-17 victory.
With the Bay’s Second XV delivering an exciting 20-19 win over Vics in the main curtain-raiser, the scene was set for a tussle of note. Vics coach Louis Blom has tasted victory in his last 10 matches and had set his sights on reaching the final to be played at Newlands on Saturday, Heritage Day.
False Bay coach Pieter Benade was keeping his cards close to his chest, quietly confident of the threat his team posed.
With a strong mix of experience and up and coming players, the sparse crowd braving the cold wind were treated to an entertaining battle of running rugby.
The home team opened the scoring when wing Kendrick Sass latched onto a spilled ball on the halfway line and cantered through for a try. Vincent Kayster made it a goal and then later gave the Bay a 10-point lead with a penalty.
Victorians were stung by the score, False Bay energised by the confidence the lead gave them. But Blom is a former tough man of Western Province rugby and expects his charges to deliver in the physical facets of the game.
The Vics forwards, in particular locks Basil Liebenberg and Robert Kamhoot upped a gear.
For the Bay, the contest presented the ideal platform for young and very capable talent to step out of the shadows and attract the attention they deserve. With opportunity comes responsibility and the Bay lads certainly stood up.
With prop Wesley Futter, locks André Lategan and Pallo Manual and flank Ross Beckett in the vanguard, the Bay took the challenge laid down by Victorians’ increase in intensity. The visitors did, however, wrest the lead through well worked tries by Kamhoot and flyhalf Jonty Bredell, who converted one, to give his team half time honours with a 12-10 lead.
Soon after the restart, flank Daniel van Zyl, probably Victorians’ standout player on the day, crashed over for a try. Bredell converted to make it a two-score lead. Cynics may have expected a capitulation from the home side, after all their opponents are SLA Top Six finishers, accustomed to the intensity of that league.
It was not to be as Leighton Bezuidenhout, a strong runner with almost no centre of gravity broke the opposing defence to score under the crossbar. Flyhalf Martin Sauls converted to bring the Bay to within two points.
Vics were finding space on the outside with wing Morné Taljaard and fullback Reinold Benade prominent and in the fourth quarter the extra space proved telling, the visitors running in two unanswered tries to give them victory.
The second score added distance on the board, perhaps not a fair reflection of the day’s proceedings.
Other players to catch the eye for False Bay were hooker Grant Muller and fullback Luke Jacobs while centre Malcom Kayes stood out for the visitors.
Vics now face Maties in the President’s Cup final at Newlands.
False Bay’s Gold Cup squad travelled to Brakpan for round two of the Gold Cup. Always expected to be a physical contest, the boys from the Cape managed to gain a valuable bonus point in their loss against a Brakpan team which has not lost a home game in three years. The final score was 26-19.
The Bay now travel to Harare for the third match in their pool stages and will face Old Georgians who had a bye last weekend.
* Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.