False Bay RFC had to dig deep in their reserves to overcome Hamilton, who produced some gutsy performance, in their Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) Super League A match, at a wet, cold and blustery Stephan Oval in Green Point on Saturday July 6.
The final score was 5-0, with the scoreboard handlers not being bothered in the second half.
No Capetonian complains about the rain since our recent drought but the irony of last season’s delayed start due to the lack of rain on matchdays such as this wet Saturday is not lost.
Of course, in terms of rugby, a soggy game levels the playing fields somewhat and as False Bay experienced a fortnight before, last minute scores can so easily wrest the result from one’s grasp.
The day got off to a cracking start with False Bay’s under-20 outfit surprising their more fancied Hamilton opponents by winning their encounter 20-16.
The Hamilton under-20s are made up predominantly of the WP Academy players, ironically based in Tokai, and had only lost one match to date.
Although the pitch was wet, the squall had not yet set in and the contest produced sparkling rugby.
Hamilton under-20s were left frustrated by the young Bay’s organisation on defence as the match progressed as their strong ball carriers were nullified to a large degree.
As the afternoon progressed and the weather worsened, the Hamilton senior side became Bay’s third scalps out of three matches but it was clear from these matches that even in ideal conditions, the Green Point outfit was not going to roll over and have their tummies tickled.
With a single try being the only score on the day, the effect of the weather is obvious but this was not the only factor influencing scoring opportunities. The defence of both teams was outstanding.
Hammies were fired up, after all this was a derby and they still hurt from what they felt was an unfair result in their 10-10 draw the last time the two teams squared up at the same venue two years ago.
Some big tackles from both sides were felt even in the clubhouse.
In the scrums, Hammies appeared to have the edge, even on the soggy pitch, their tighthead Etienne Swanepoel the spearhead, backed up by hooker Mark Fairhurst and loosehead Nathan Meilhon.
The Green Point soccer stadium towers over the pitch and as the weather worsened and light faded, it looked greyer and greater. Bay wing Danie Roux scored the only try of the game as he cleverly used the wet pitch to great effect by sliding over the goal line from a few meters out, the last time the referee needed to take his notepad out for points scored.
Admittedly False Bay did have one or two other scoring opportunities but as the match progressed the ball became increasingly difficult to handle and credit is due to both teams, their handling of the orb outstanding in the conditions. In the dying minutes of the game Hamilton were on attack and the opportunity to wrest the match from the Bay was very possible.
They were awarded a few penalties but the kicking conditions were atrocious and three points would not overtake the Bay’s five, and of course give their opposition the opportunity to restart and play the game in their half.
The Bay had been using the wind to great effect to pin their hosts in the own half for the majority of the second half, so a fightback from a restart was tough.
Going for touch had its own challenges.
The wind made the throw-in a lottery and the Bay’s defence, both around the edges and out wide, was outstanding and the hosts found themselves being rebuffed on each attack.
The referee called an end to a match that could have gone either way but which the analysis would show that it was a deserved win for False Bay.
The loss for Hammies dented their hopes of post-season play-offs. False Bay host Brackenfell at Constantia on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3.30pm.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.