Motorvaps False Bay travelled to Milnerton eager to improve on their three-consecutive-match winning streak but returned without the win that would have kept their Top Six qualification hopes alive. The final score was 21-7 to Union-Milnerton, after the visitors led 7-6 at half time.
Uni-Mil, on the back of a schedule which saw them face Stellenbosch on Women’s Day and then the Bay three days later, held a five-point advantage on the Super League A table after both teams had played 12 matches. A Bay victory would see Millies drop below the Constantia club on the table. Victory was crucial to both teams, which augured well for a keen contest.
Uni-Mil have been regular Top Six finishers over the Past number of years since their return to the top flight after a slump that saw them contesting in the nether leagues barely a decade ago. Their goal-setting has been sound, their achievement of these spot on.
Saturday’s contest showed just how much Millies wanted the victory. The hosts, with a big pack of forwards and a robust style of play never relented in their attacks on Bay lines, but were repelled relentlessly by resolute defence.
They opened the scoring when wing Alroy Brandt converted a penalty. The Bay continued to take the game to their opponents but their stodgy play broke their rhythm and stymied their attempts at scoring. The Uni-Mil defence was sound and their counter-attack, especially after turning the ball over, often saw False Bay pushed back into their half, and it would be fair to say that the hosts held territorial advantage in the first half.
Any former front-row forwards who appreciates the contest within the contest that the scrum is, would certainly have savoured the battle between UniMil loosehead Tiny van Wyk and Bay tighthead, Tahriq Allen. The former, who normally plays on the right pillar of the scrum, was clearly moved to the left to negative the latter’s power. It was a move which was not a success as the gargantuan van Wyk battled to master the technique required to scrum against a shorter opponent, and was eventually called out for scrumming outside of his opponent. Nevertheless, it was an enthralling battle between two experienced props.
The old debate of go-for-touch or take-the-points raged late in the first half as the visitors were awarded a goalable penalty but opted to go for the seven pointer. This would have increased their lead to 10-3 and in perfect hindsight it was perhaps a risky option considering that the Bay’s line-outs were not clinical and by no means guaranteed to succeed. The line-out did not succeed and Millies were able to reduce the half time deficit to one point when Brandt converted another penalty.
The third quarter was no less closely contested as the first two but proceedings were set upon its head when the referee awarded a penalty try to Uni-Mil for an apparent hindrance of the home side’s wing who was in pursuit of a cross-kick behind the try line.
Match video clearly showed that the chasing wing was not played without the ball and had in fact given up pursuit, tumbling to the ground in frustration instead. Furthermore the ball had bounced away from him and, as required by law, there was no certainty that a try would have been scored. A penalty try is an automatic seven points and False Bay were down by 13-7. It was a ruling which could have resulted in a different decision had the assistant referee, who gave no indication of foul play, been consulted.
Whatever the circumstances, the ruling had been made; the Bay were down to 14 men for the automatic yellow card; and they allowed their resolve to be deflated. The hosts hammered the final nail into Bay’s coffin, with a score by flyhalf Kyle Kermis, late in the half.
This weekend sees a mix of home matches for the Bay. Friday Night Lights, the popular match evening at clubs around the Peninsula, features three matches. One of particular interest is when Western Province under-21 faces a False Bay Invitational XV in a practice match. The Province young guns are coached by former Bay head coach, Johnno van der Walt, who has been involved with the Western Province under-19 and -20 teams as an assistant this season and takes the reigns as head coach of the under-21 squad.
The other two matches see False Bay face their DurBell and Helderberg counterparts. Matches begin at 7pm.
False Bay has a bye this weekend and their final league match of the season is against St George’s on Saturday August 26. Their Second XV and Thirds both have a top-three finish guaranteed while the under-20 As have hopes of competing on a national platform.
The club as a whole will strive to close the season on a collective high, one where success has perhaps not been mirrored in the log position of their flagship team, but a successful season has been encountered nevertheless.
• Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.