Motorvaps False Bay exited the 2023 African Rainbow Community Gold Cup when they succumbed to a powerful Naka Bulls from Pretoria in a physical encounter at Constantia on Saturday.
The final score was 24-10 after the visiting Bulls led 12-3 at the break.
False Bay, carrying the hopes of the Western Cape in the revived competition, had progressed to the quarter final stages through earlier victories over Heidelberg RFC from the South Western Districts, and then Boland’s Wesbank RFC a week earlier.
Having qualified for the tournament as defending Super League A (SLA) champions, the Constantia outfit were up against it in so many ways.
The Pretorians dominated proceedings in the first quarter of an hour, the Bay hardly touching the ball in this period. Right wing Brandon Swart proved to be a handful during this passage of play, crashing over for a try which sounded some alarm bells with regards the threat he posed.
Naka Bulls kept the pressure on the home side, almost camping in the Bay’s quarter, but their handling was at times inaccurate, a spilled pass on attack gave lock Ryan Olivier the opportunity to hack it up field and lead a counter-attack which ended when a flying Mustaqim Jappie grappled with an interception pass but could not control the ball. That breakaway would have taken some much-needed wind out of the visitors’ sails, which were starting to show signs of heavy breathing.
The near miss resulted in a scrum for the visitors on their own ten metre line and two penalizable actions resulted in the Naka Bulls scoring near the poles. The first was their front row escaping censure for pulling out of the scrum, instead the visitors were allowed to attack with that illegally won ball.
Then from desperate defence on their line, the Bay saw try scorer Hansie Graaf play the ball from an off-side position to put his team 12 points ahead after converting his fortuitous try.
The match produced some exciting passages of play, the Bay’s forwards manning up to their opposition, who were sometimes brutal in contact. False Bay’s dominance in the scrum was a source of frustration for the visitors, who opted to pull out of the scrum when the pressure came through from props Nizaar Nazier and Tahriq Allen working in concert with hooker Neil Rautenbach.
The visitors were penalised for this ploy on occasion but not nearly as much as they transgressed. Nevertheless, False Bay opted to exploit their dominance in this facet, on two occasions opting for scrums deep in their opponents quarter instead of shies at goal or line kicks. On both occasions they relinquished possession.
On the stroke of half time, after having their visitors on the racks to no avail, flyhalf Ewan Adams broke his team’s duck on the scoreboard with a penalty.
Five minutes into the second half False Bay were reduced to 14 men when centre Joshua Florence was expelled for foul play. The visitors were showing serious signs of fatigue already at this stage. Nevertheless they extended their lead to 16 when centre Xavier Human flummoxed defences to score alongside the uprights. Graaf converted.
With the score at 19-3 and 14 men on the paddock, the Bay needed to get their scoreboard rolling. The inter-provincial aspect of a competition such as this is to be referenced and perhaps it is the application of the laws which differs from region to region. Highly rated referee AJ Jacobs appeared not to notice on three occasions the failure of Naka Bulls to retreat 10 metres from the point of penalty, instead immediately playing the ball carrier mere metres from the penalty spot. Two of these occasions were in the red zone, which is an automatic banishment to the sin bin for 10 minutes. The officials did not notice these transgressions and on one occasion the ball was turned over by the visitors on their own line. It’s a moot point, but censure of these transgressions could have resulted in at least one penalty try, the levelling of playing numbers to 14 men, and the exertion of pressure on the visitors who were starting to puff a bit.
At the end of it all, play was deemed to be legal and that is all that counts. With the score at 19-10, Bay fans may have been persuaded to accept the loss as a fair reflection of proceedings, but a last minute try to the visitors added a slanted impression of a one-sided contest.
“We were not perfect”, said coach Ashley Wells, “but this group of guys showed that they care for each other and their club. I am immensely proud of them”.
False Bay’s season draws to a close. Players, coaches and administrators retreat to rest and plan for next season.
- Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.