Bay women stretch Royal Navy

Simamkele Jaho, left, takes on the defence with Nikiwe Mama coming up in support.

Every one of the sizeable crowd who made the trip to Constantia for the tour match between the False Bay RFC Women’s team and the Royal Navy’s Women’s team left the venue thoroughly entertained as the tourists hung onto their seven-point lead under intense pressure from the hosts. The final score was 22-15 after the Royal Navy led 15-5 at the break.

The Royal Navy’s Women’s team embarked on their first overseas tour, Cape Town their destination, which included three matches in our beautiful city. The first of these was against Stellenbosch University in the Tens format. Maties full-format season has not yet started but after the completion of the game, the teams combined to enjoy a short fifteen per side match. Their second match was a tough one against Busy Bees of Langa, which saw the local team take honours.

Reading the “ships log” of their tour, Capetonians would be proud of how the Mother City delivered what she does best – hospitality, numerous activities and natural beauty.

Saturday saw the visitors travel to leafy Constantia for their final match against False Bay, largely an unknown quantity and in the opening half it looked as though the sailors would overwhelm their feisty hosts. The visitors, fast and strong, camped in the Bay half in the opening stanza. False Bay in turn stood firm, countering whenever the opportunity presented but kicking out of hand into the stiff breeze was not an option which meant they had to run the ball into opposition territory. A difficult task for any team.

The RN Women scored out wide through left wing, Abi Ashby, a lieutenant by day, and a fine ball-carrier between the four lines. The tourists followed this up with another by number eight, Abi Sondack which was goaled by fullback Chloe Sopp.

Stunned but by no means down, False Bay fought back, their loose forwards, particularly number eight Sikhumbuzo Muchenzi and flank Briege Williams leading from up front, the former powerfully carrying the ball up, the latter’s pace and onto-the-pass running proving devastating. Indeed it was just that which saw Williams score an enthralling try after breaking on her own quarter line and using power and pace to score.

Game on until Sopp doused any first half hopes of the home support when she scored her team’s third try to extend their lead to ten, the halftime advantage.

What followed was thirty minutes of high quality, entertaining rugby from both sides. False Bay, apparently inspired by Coach Zoe Naude’s talk at the break appearing to have the desired effect. The Constantia Women narrowed the gap to five through a simply breathtaking try by the Bay’s own Cheslin Colby, diminutive Azar Phillips, who outstripped defences to score in the corner. This score, like Williams’s marathon dash, had the crowd on their feet and the seafarers stunned.

22-15 and False Bay were on a mission to share the spoils, launching attack after attack on the RN Women lines, were repelled through resolute defence. They were on attack, deep in RN waters, were threatening but a turnover saw the visitors launch an exciting (or nerve-racking depending on allegiances) counter-attack which was desperately stopped in the nick of time.

Referee Martie Mostert, an up-and-coming referee who a week earlier had admirably managed the Bay’s Second XV match against DurBell, called time on a thoroughly entertaining contest.

● Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC

False Bay tryscorer Azhar Phillips looks to brush off the defence during her side’s match against a visiting Royal Navy side.
The Bay’s Briege Williams goes on the offence during the match against the Royal Navy’s women’s side.
False Bay’s Sikhumbuzo Muchenje, flanked by Jenna Stuurman, left and Briege Willams, looks dangerous on attack.