“No closer than that, Jean !” Brackenfell no.8 and captain Sean-D van Binsbergen (left)
keeps an eye on Durbanville counterpart Jean Aucamp (right) during his team's
84-17 away win on Saturday 13 May 2017. (Photo: Axnshots)
Hosts Brackenfell beat Bellville more comfortably than the 16-11 scoreline might suggest in clear, but damp and chilly conditions on Saturday 27 May 2017.
Northern suburbs clashes are never anything less than fiercely contested, but, while this was no exception, one couldn’t help but feel that the visitors were their own worst enemies, turning over far too much well-won possession to stand a realistic chance of winning the game.
Ironically, while sides were forced by injury to play their first choice scrumhalves at flyhalf, Brackenfell overcame the hurdle far more smoothly, making frequent use of their quick men out wide.
By contrast, Bellville found the adjustment increasingly difficult, especially when it became clear early on that the home team was intent on closing down dangerous centre Dan Aspeling, a strategy which worked so efficiently that the visitors seldom looked like crossing their opponents’ tryline.
While one might attribute the relative avalanche of handling mistakes from both sides early on to a slippery ball, the way the visitors turned over clean possession in the very first ruck, only to regain it in the same way seconds later – and then knock it on – established a tone of frustration that lasted for most of the rest of the match.
The Brakke quickly found their feet and left wing Marcqiewn Titus almost breached the Bellville defence. Unfortunately, the home forwards knocked on a quickly-taken penalty five metres from the visitors’ tryline and a penalty provided Aspeling the chance to relieve the pressure.
Brakke lock Jean-Louis de Lange stole possession at the line-out, but, on receiving a penalty, the locals chose to return play to Bellville’s danger zone for another throw-in.
The Bellville defence initially held firm, but gifted two successive penalties, the home pack drove over the whitewash for a pack try credited to tighthead Ronan Witten. Full-back Waylin Booysen raised the flags. (Brackenfell 7 Bellville 0 – 9 minutes)
The visiting eight went onto the attack from the restart, following lanky lock Xavier Haupt’s clean follow-up and take, actually crossing their opponents’ tryline, only for hardworking flank Dewald Pienaar to be held up and carried back.
Having taken a crucial tighthead in the ensuing scrum, Brackenfell were promptly penalized, allowing Aspeling to set up another five-metre line-out, duly taken by Haupt.
Another penalty saw Bellville appear to cross the line again after Aspeling had been stopped in his tracks on the break. This time the visitors swung the ball gained from the five-metre scrum wide to the right, but wing Jacques Robinson was forced into touch.
The hosts were conceding an alarming number of penalties in loose play, giving the cultured boot of Aspeling plenty of opportunities to repeatedly establish attacking platforms. However, when the burly centre was carried back near the tryline and Brackenfell were penalized for the umpteenth time, losing a player to a yellow card in the process, Aspeling opted for a shot at goal, which put his side on the scoreboard. (Brackenfell 7 Bellville 3 – 18 minutes)
Play became scrappy as the two teams appeared to compete over who could knock the ball on more often and more emphatically, Bellville winning this informal contest by conceding possession in a promising attacking position just outside the Brakke’s 22.
Booysen drove the visitors back briefly, but, when his forwards stole the ball at the line-out, an aimless kick ahead cancelled out the advantage by flying harmlessly over the touchline. Pienaar balanced matters by ferreting the ball out of a Brackenfell forward drive, but de Lange averted any thoughts of a Bellville try by carrying the ball twenty metres out of defence.
Ruck transgressions by both sides bracketed a promising attacking move by Adams. When Brackenfell scrumhalf Wikus Strydom put his team on the front foot, the Bellville defence held firm, but the backs strayed marginally offside, presenting Booysen with the opportunity to stretch the lead from the tee right on the break. Half time : Brackenfell 10 Bellville 3.
The visitors made a spirited start to the second half, Aspeling narrowing his team’s deficit to four points with a simple penalty from 22 metres out. (Brackenfell 10 Bellville 6 – 36 minutes)
Although the home backs were beginning to display their trademark sidestepping, Bellville continued to apply pressure, which was only relieved when they conceded a penalty for illegal scrumming.
After a generally anonymous first half the hosts’ captain, no.8 Sean-D van Binsbergen made twenty metres with a typically aggressive surge, which ended with his side being awarded a kickable penalty, which Booysen pushed wide. Even so, there were a few nervous moments as Bellville struggled to cope with the ball in their in-goal area before safely dotting it down.
The Brakke maintained the pressure, Titus again looking very sharp down the left, but a clean line-out take by Bellville lock Marlo Conradie allowed his flyhalf on the day Ruan van Schalkwyk time to clear the ball to safety.
As the hosts’ confidence grew visibly, Booysen took play back into his opponents 22 metre area with a well-placed grubber. Bellville were penalized for not releasing the ball in the ruck following the line-out, giving Booysen the chance to restore the seven-point lead. (Brackenfell 13 Bellville 6 – 46 minutes)
Two further punishing drives by van Binsbergen on either side of a great touchfinder by his flyhalf Keegan Joubert put Brackenfell into another attacking position and, just after referee Jaco Smith had spoken to both captains about the number of transgressions, he had no hesitation in handing the ball to Booysen. The full-back obliged. (Brackenfell 16 Bellville 6 – 51 minutes)
Bellville briefly showed a rare attacking spark – they had long since resigned themselves to using the heavily-marked Aspeling as nothing more than a dummy runner – but another knock-on brought to an end a promising backline movement before it could inflict any real damage, a forward drive suffering the same fate barely a minute later.
Bellville full-back Aubrey Coetzee and left wing Dillon Ekland did combine to threaten the hosts’ defences, but the situation was rescued by more effective foraging by van Binsbergen. The visitors continued to press with stocky hooker Cheslyn Kupido prominent, but some penetrative backline work was stymied by more poor handling.
Even the loss of Kupido couldn’t prevent the Bellville backs from making inroads, Robinson seeing his endeavour ruined by a ruck transgression.
As time ran out Emile Janse van Rensburg’s lads turned defence into a last-gasp attack, with Adams almost breaking through.
The tireless centre finally got his reward when Aspeling joined the line to send Adams through with a sublime pass. Not even a despairing attempted tackle proved enough to stop him from dotting down in the last movement of the match. Final score : Brackenfell 16 Bellville 11.
Although Bellville must shoulder much of the blame for this defeat, their poor ball retention skills alone costing them dearly, Brackenfell do deserve much credit for the unflustered way they dealt with the absence of flyhalf Quan Eymann and no.15 Raven Smith, two vital cogs in their machine.
Both teams face interesting assignments this coming Saturday. Bellville host a Swartland side that ran up 40 points in Oudtshoorn this past weekend and the Brakke will need to be have their wits about them if they are to extinguish the fire burning in the hearts of plucky DF Malan this season when they play them in Bellville.