False Bay go down in tight north versus south battle

False Bay FC were edged out by a passionate Tygerberg RFC in a closely-contested Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) Super League A match, at Constantia on Saturday.

The final score was 8-10 after the Bay led 8-0 at the break. It was a rugby day eagerly awaited by so many. The two clubs have enjoyed a close relationship over several years, which extends to competition on the pitch and warm camaraderie off it. This club-day had just that much more adding to the occasion.

False Bay’s Third XV were unbeaten going into the fixture, their opponents having lost only one match to date. As if that was not enough, the under-20 fixture, in the build up to the main match, promised to be a thriller, and the two second teams both took to the pitch unbeaten, the real likelihood of one exiting vanquished with that record in tatters.

False Bay’s teams had registered wins, their Seconds and Thirds with their unbeaten tag intact and the Under 20 A team with a healthy victory in the bag and the local support was quietly confident of it being a clean sweep for the home club, Fortress False Bay, the graveyard of practically all visitors over the last number of seasons.

With a swirling wind and intermittent rain falling on an already sodden pitch, knowledgeable rugby folk were reticent to forecast a result, the wet conditions a renowned leveler in any contest between favourite and underdog. The weatherman had suggested rainfall would taper off by the time the two teams squared off, but forecasting is not an exact science and the squalls merely served to test the skills of the players. It was to be a quality contest with high skills levels delivered by both despite the conditions.

The opening quarter hour was characterised by the defence of the “Tiere”, the standout feature of their game, as they repelled the persistent attacks on their line. One such foray saw the Bay break the defences of their opponents and they appeared on their way to score when the referee called them back for an infringement. Number 31, while having a tidy game for the most, did make some bemusing calls, especially in the second stanza of the contest.

Bay fullback Adnaan Osman opened the scoring for his team in the 17th minute with a penalty. The first 40 minutes saw False Bay in control, the spirited defence of Tygerberg a massive obstacle in their way to crossing the line. Indeed, they opted on a number of occasions to secure a lineout from a penalty instead of kicking, such was their ascendency, but it was the sheer doggedness of the Tygers defence that kept their line unbroken. False Bay’s try came from a sweeping move off a lineout on the Tygerberg ten-metre line, ending with centre Morne Small wrong-footing his opponent to score. Both teams endeavoured to play running rugby, in total contrast to what the coaching manuals may advise for conditions such as these.

The visitors were full of rugby and bravado.

They had a plan, wily coach Anton Moolman not a man to arrive unprepared, and they stuck to it. Their big forwards relishing the contest. The front row battle was eagerly anticipated, the Tygerberg trio having put their opponents to the sword in their matches to date, including the esteemed Hamiltons and Dur-Bell front rows. The Bay’s Dave Geffen, Vlam van Vuuren and Wesley Futter dominated their opponents for most of a contest where both managed to scrum well on the soggy pitch. An eight-point half-time lead was never going to be enough and with the swirling wind predominantly behind the visitors, False Bay felt the pressure to score mounting. After all, Tygerberg are renowned for simply never giving up until the final whistle. The Tygers defense was unrelenting. By example, they contained False Bay’s try-scoring machines, wings Danie Roux and Chadleigh Cloete, the former shut down as soon as he received the ball, especially in the dying stages when he is at his most lethal when his team is down.Big centre Gideon Taljaard reduced the home side’s lead to five points with a penalty. This is when Tygerberg are at their most dangerous, and the Bay’s frail lead seemed to lose effect as the home team’s efforts to score off their quality possession were rebuffed by a team possessed. Adding to this, the Bay were becoming a little desperate, rushing their execution in the face of a defense which closed down their space rapidly. The travelling support, sensing something was afoot, were delirious when flyhalf Stewart Jacobs stretched over the Bay line at the end of a multi-phase attack which was courageously rebuffed by a determined Bay defence which found that last tackle to be one-too many. Taljaard converted to give his team a two-point lead. With literally minutes to play, False Bay launched relentless attacks on the Tygerberg line and it was only courageous tackling and some adjudication leniency in their favour, which kept their line whole in those last minutes.The contest ended with the visitors triumphant. An entertaining match, let no credit be taken from Tygerberg in their victory. They came prepared, they stuck to their plan, and they scored more points than their opponents on the day. False Bay currently lie third on the SLA table, one point behind DurBell, their opponents on Saturday in Durbanville. The match promises to be an entertaining encounter, equally anticipated as this past weekend. Again, it is not just a club day hinging on the main contest, the Seconds, Thirds and Under 20s of both clubs vying for league honours at the end of the season. First games kick off at 1.30pm and the main game starts at 4pm.