And away she goes ! Livewire SACS scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu gets his backline away in the game
against Selborne at the Kearsney Easter Festival. (photo: Sharon Laurenson)
Boland Landbou were made to pull out all the stops to beat a very spirited SACS side 28-18 at Windmeul on Saturday 16 April 2016.
The hosts seemed to have learnt from last week’s match against Paarl Gym, whose late spurt broke Landbou’s hearts as Oloff Bergh and Deon Carstens’ men also only found their feet in the last fourteen minutes, scoring two tries to snatch victory from the Young Ikeys.
It wasn’t only the very warm conditions in which the game was played – after a cool, overcast start to the day – that had the large crowd sweating as the home team struggled to gain any sort of ascendancy in the face of ferocious first-time tackling and inventive backline play by the Newlands side.
The SACS kick-off was taken by local favourite Athi Magwala, who made a few hard yards before flyhalf Janlu Steenkamp had the opportunity to clear downfield.
Any thoughts the visitors might have had of an early attack were dashed by a dropped pass in midfield, but another seemingly aimless kick ended up in the hands of fiery Liam Larkan, filling in in his original position of hooker for the injured Lance Steytler.
The move may have suffered a similar fate to the previous one, but SACS had made it abundantly clear that they were intent on moving the ball around at every opportunity.
Next the Young Ikeys kicked into open territory, but Magwala and Carstens were equal to the threat on defence.
Ten minutes in a long Landbou kick finally looked like bearing fruit as they caught the visitors’ defence in possession eight metres out and a skew line-out throw gave the hosts a scrum in a fine attacking position. Carstens took at first receiver and fed Steenkamp who was only just held up by the SACS defence.
In turn no. 8 Alex Halvorsen, who otherwise had an uncharacteristically subdued first half, lively scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu and right wing Zolani Masembathe had the visiting supporters on their feet.
Landbou managed a try-saving turn-over, right wing Duren Hoffman taking the ball back into the SACS 22 metre area. Having managed to wrest possession from a SACS line-out, hooker François Bruwer fed Steenkamp, who neatly sidestepped past a tackle before offloading to inside centre Henlo Marais who slipped over for Hoffman to convert. (Boland Landbou 7 SACS 0 – 18 minutes)
Magwala again gathered the kick-off efficiently, giving Steenkamp plenty of time to clear, but a storming response by Larkan upped the threat level and a penalty advantage provided outside centre Jordy Hop with the chance to open his team’s scoring with a well-judged kick. (Boland Landbou 7 SACS 3 – 21 minutes)
When the home defence was penalised for holding on in a ruck shortly after the restart, Hop coolly reduced the deficit to one point from 40 metres. (Boland Landbou 7 SACS 6 – 23 minutes)
Confident running from defence by SACS inside centre Nic Redelinghuys was spoiled when a kick ahead later in the move went straight into touch. Both Hop and full-back Justin Bendeman put in penetrative runs, but Hoffman succeeded in bringing play back into the middle of the field.
The next SACS threat was defused by Landbou full-back Louis Frylinck, which resulted in some determined driving by the Farmers’ pack and, when another pinpoint grubber by Frylinck saw SACS caught in possession, it was only an offside decision against captain and flank Heinrich Brendel that prevented the hosts from adding to their score.
After fielding a speculative Dlepu grubber, Frylinck then gave Hoffman room to stretch his legs, but more disappointment followed when, given a penalty in the SACS 22, the hosts opted to set up an attacking line-out, but surrendered the advantage with a skew line-out throw.
The first period came to a close with workmanlike SACS flyhalf David Hayes finding a useful touch after a Landbou scrum turned over possession. Half Time : Boland Landbou 7 SACS 6.
SACS ran into a revitalized Landbou defence after the break, Redelinghuys being stopped in his tracks after a short dash. Unfortunately a Carstens clearance bounced badly for Hoffman, causing the hosts increasing frustration and, taking advantage of this hesitation, Halvorsen put in a determined run to dive over in the left-hand corner. (Boland Landbou 7 SACS 11 – 39 minutes)
A move spearheaded by Larkan ended with Hop caught in possession, giving the Farmers the chance to counterattack via a long clearance which set up a line-out 15 metres from their visitors’ goal-line.
Showing more of the form which has seen him become a firm favourite with the home supporters, Carstens took the ball wide from the resulting scrum before releasing a short pass to Steenkamp who dotted down close to the posts, leaving Hoffman with a simple conversion. (Boland Landbou 14 SACS 11 – 44 minutes)
The Young Ikeys replied with a strong run by Bendeman, the move being taken further by Larkan, whose grubber was knocked on, giving the Newlands lads a whiff of the goal-line. Although a wild pass curtailed their immediate prospects, they were playing advantage and thus had a five-metre scrum to fall back on.
When captain and lock James Brewer was held up just short, Hayes slipped a sublime inside pass to Hop, who sliced through to score under the crossbar. His conversion was successful. (Boland Landbou 14 SACS 18 – 49 minutes)
Landbou were visibly reeling and allowed Hop to break through virtually immediately after the resumption, but, as luck – maybe fate – would have it, a despairing tackle managed to dislodge the ball from his grasp as he was crossing the line. Undeterred, he played an integral part in the next attack, which was defused only by a huge Steenkamp clearance.
With the Farmers going sideways rather than forwards, it took a fine break by Marais to sound a wake-up call, sending Carstens in for a well-deserved five-pointer to which Hoffman added the extras. (Boland Landbou 21 SACS 18 – 59 minutes)
It was only at this stage that the boys in black allowed their true abilities to rise to the surface.
A kick-ahead saw the SACS defence caught in possession, resulting in a penalty for holding on to the ball. Hoffman persuaded his captain to allow him to kick for goal from the halfway line, but his attempt faded at the last second.
Just to prove that the very idea of kicking out of defence was anathema to them, Hayes and Masembathe combined to take play back up to the middle of the field, but a knock-on turned over possession.
Hoffman duly broke and, when he was tackled, Brendel was on hand to drive over the line to settle the outcome of the entertaining match. Hoffman’s fourth successful conversion ended proceedings. Final score : Boland Landbou 28 SACS 18.
SACS may have lost, but they showed plenty of class, maintaining a delightful open style of play throughout, much of this stemming from the inventiveness of the tall, wiry Man of the Match Jordy Hop. For this team, running the ball is not what they with a view to occasionally outwitting their opposition, it’s their default gameplan.
Despite being somewhat outweighed, their pack gave as good as it got throughout and may even go one better when Larkan can be employed at the side of the scrum again.
On Saturday they visit Paarl Gym. They might not win, but they will definitely capture the hearts of the knowledgeable spectators surrounding the Kriel turf.
The Farmers showed glimpses of what they can do with some characteristic ebullience in the closing stages, but the palpable sense of uncertainty that characterized so much of their performance must be causing some concern. Next week’s home fixture against Strand will be no cakewalk – the Helderbergers have an unblemished record in six starts this season.
In closing, what a pleasure it was to be treated to such a wonderful day of incident-free rugby in such spectacular surroundings ! Both schools will surely look back with pride on how well they acquitted themselves, regardless of what the scoreboard said.