Picture: Gavin Whithers and Son
The Bay easily dealt with a competitive NTK last Saturday and then travelled to an icy Stellenbosch on Wednesday night, before taking on St George’s in Strand in stormy conditions, at the weekend.
With the top six teams qualifying to contest for league honours in the knockout stage of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) Super League A (SLA) 2018, a top-two finish is much sought after to avoid having to play a quarterfinal.
The Bay moved to second spot behind Maties after this past week. The students have a three point log lead while the Bay have their noses barely one point ahead of third placed Durbell.
Wednesday’s encounter against Victorians was a massive banana peel in waiting. The students’ coach Louis Blom, the former hardman of Western Province rugby, did his homework for the contest.
Victorians drew first blood with a penalty by flyhalf Gerco Nortje, issuing a strong warning of pending danger from his boot.
The powerful Danie Roux, playing at centre in the last three matches, broke the shackles of a suffocating defence structure, to put the Bay into a 7-3 lead, after wing Karl Martin converted the try.
The students took the game to the visitors, at times pinning them in their own half for what seemed like ages. Wing Fredrick van Zyl finished a well-crafted try to give the students a one point lead. Later in the half, Nortje converted a penalty to extend his team’s lead to four points.
At times proceedings became a little combatant, both teams reluctant to flinch in the face of their opponents. Martin struck back for the Bay as they counter-attacked from barely into their opponents half.
By time he received the ball, Martin still had 20 metres of treacherous ground to cover, the sideline adding the extra defender. He scored in the corner and dissected the uprights for good measure to give his team a slender three-point lead.
False Bay extended their lead when lock Jan Ferreira stretched for the line and planted the ball against the base of the pole protectors.
Vics threatened the Bay try-line as half-time approached. False Bay’s defence stood firm but with barely a minute or two on the first half clock, scrumhalf Jurgens van Schalkwyk crossed the line to reduce False Bay’s lead to just three points after Nortjie got the conversion.
The False Bay coaching panel would have had some words of wisdom to share at the break but in essence the visitors were being stymied by a determined Victorians who were playing in-your-face rugby, behind the advantage line.
It was a sound tactic which, coupled with the ability to launch effective, blitz attacks at the Bay line, made Victorians a very dangerous outfit, a true character test for the Bay.
With four matches remaining after this one, False Bay needed a four-try win to move one point ahead of Dur-bell, the two teams vying for what is surely second spot with Maties currently unstoppable and registering massive wins recently.
With this in mind it was no surprise that captain Graham Knoop passed on the opportunity to convert penalties into three points and opt for lineout restarts in search of a seven-pointer.
False Bay’s bonus point try was Roux’s second and gave the Constantia team an eight-point lead. Flank Juan Venter crashed over for the hosts and the Bay’s lead was stripped down to three points.
The students continued their salvos at the Bay lines and in return the Bay parried and counter-attacked, one of which saw Roux, by now back on the wing, receive the ball on the halfway line.
He launched one of his trademark attacks at the Vics defences, to score a try which relieved all Bay hearts and broke those aligned to Victorians. Adnaan Osman converted.
Minutes later the referee called an end to proceedings, an enthralling contest, heartbreaking as it was for some.
False Bay then travelled to Strand to face St George’s for their third match in seven days. They beat St George’s 35-15.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC