Brakkies Top Dogs In The North – At Last !


Time to get the scoreboard moving !  Bosch scrumhalf Robbie Davis eludes both a would-be
tackler and Bishops captain Jean Pienaar (right) on his way to scoring the opening try
in his team’s 30-26 victory at the Piley Rees on Saturday.  (photo: Greg Nates)

Brackenfell held their nerve to withstand a fiery late effort by visitors Tygerberg to win their FNB Classic Clash 30-19 on Saturday 27 August 2016, the hosts’ first victory in the seven years of the derby’s official existence.  At the same time the hosts confirmed their place at the top of the 2016 WP Premier B standings.

When the early morning mist lifted, a clear, sunny and unseasonably hot day welcomed the very large crowd, many of whom were former scholars of the biggest high school in the Western Cape, convinced that this was to be the day for which they had been waiting so long.

As if the occasion wasn’t sufficiently emotionally charged, it also represented the last official interschools of two of the gentlemen whose inspiration saw to the establishment of the event.  Brackenfell principal André Pretorius and Tygerberg deputy principal (then acting principal) Fanie de Goede will both have retired by the time the next derby is played.

Tygerberg went straight onto the attack from the kick-off, using a penalty for offside to set up a five metre line-out, but lost possession, allowing lively Brakkies left wing Siya Ntuntwana to make thirty metres up the touchline.

Despite being caught in possession, the hosts stole back the ball, scrumhalf Branden de Kock taking play to the Tygers’ 22 metre line.

Early match nerves then cost the visitors dearly, a wild pass giving full-back Keith Chiwara a gift of an interception.  Having made forty metres, he sent flyhalf Quan Eymann clear to open the scoring.  De Kock’s conversion bounced back off an upright. (Brackenfell 5 Tygerberg 0 – 4 minutes)

The Brackenfell forwards mauled the ball upfield, forcing the Tygers’ kingpin, full-back Tiaan Henecke, to clear directly into touch.  A great take off the top of the line-out by lock Byron Bantjes led to a rolling maul with influential flank Le-Klue Everts claiming the try, which De Kock converted.  (Brackenfell 12 Tygerberg 0 – 8 minutes)

Henecke soon launched into one of his mazy trademark breaks, but a penalty against his forwards let Brackenfell push them back to their 22 metre line.  In turn, two consecutive penalties in as many minutes against the hosts saw them forced back to the half-way line.

More overoptimistic Tygerberg passing could well have spelled disaster for the green-and-whites, but a Brakkies knock on saved their bacon.  Even then when Tygers lock Tiaan de Witt secured clean line-out ball, a handling error spoiled any chance of progress for his side.  Further lapses in concentration then ended up costing the visitors a penalty which De Kock steered just wide.

Play was confined to the midfield for several minutes as both sides were happy to let the frenetic early pace subside and an unfortunate clash of heads saw the hosts’ captain, flank Ruan Combrinck, forced to leave the field for a lengthy period. 

Brackenfell regained their equilibrium first, courtesy of a penalty which was advanced ten metres, but, to their immense frustration, failed to capitalise on another line-out throw in.  Fortunately, this didn’t break their concentration and De Kock gratefully slotted a 33 metre penalty to widen the gap between the sides. (Brackenfell 15 Tygerberg 0 – 25 minutes)

More fine line-out work by De Witt helped create a half-gap for Henecke.  Eymann’s relieving kick triggered a brief exchange of aerial ping-pong, punctuated intermittently by poor handling.  Great driving by Man of the Match Everts gave Ntuntwana room to move on the left and, when he was stopped via a high tackle, Eymann established another attacking line-out.

Tygers inside centre Ettiene Spies then threatened, breaking 35 metres down the midfield, but his speculative kick-ahead was returned with interest by Chiwara and, when the visitors infringed at an ensuing scrum, De Kock raised the flags with a second penalty to give the hosts a comfortable lead. Half time : Brackenfell 18 Tygerberg 0.

Turning over possession from the restart, Chiwara and Ntuntwana were at the core of a Brackenfell counter-attack, which was spoiled by a handling error which allowed Henecke the chance to clear the Tygerberg line.  The visitors then stole the line-out put-in, releasing inside centre Ettiene Spies on another penetrative run.

Henecke increased the pressure with a raking touchfinder from a penalty, but a fumble as the result of overeagerness caused a temporary setback.  The Tygers full-back then seized on a wayward clearance by De Kock to make good ground before feeding Spies, who dotted down in the left-hand corner to open the visitors’ account.  (Brackenfell 18 Tygerberg 5 – 43 minutes)

The age-old maxim that a team is always at its most vulnerable after it has scored was illustrated by the comedy of errors which followed.

The defence moved to take the Brackenfell restart, but inexplicably allowed it to bounce, affording lock Jean-Louis de Lange the simplest of opportunities to gather and dive over.  (Brackenfell 23 Tygerberg 5 – 45 minutes)  

That wasn’t the end of the misery, either.

De Lange made several yards with a powerful drive from the kick-off, but the Tygers’ defence managed to usher the attacking pod out on the corner flag.  Further disaster followed for the Parow side as the disappointingly flat clearance from the line-out was easily charged down, no. 8 Sean-D van Binsbergen collecting to stretch the hosts’ lead.  Eymann added the conversion. (Brackenfell 30 Tygerberg 5 – 49 minutes)

To their credit, the visitors struck back within four minutes.  As is most often the case, Henecke set things in motion, the ball eventually going into touch in the Brakkies’ 22 metre area.  When the hosts were penalized, the ball was quickly shifted to giant prop Handré Jooste who drove over for his seventh five-pointer of the season.  Henecke further reduced the deficit from an acute angle from the tee.  (Brackenfell 30 Tygerberg 12 – 53 minutes)

At this stage, it was all Tygerberg as they attacked relentlessly, largely guided by Henecke’s sublime tactical appreciation. 

Despite conceding a penalty for holding on, from which De Kock was able to drive play back to the visitors’ ten-metre line, the visitors kept up the pressure until Henecke launched onto another of his scintillating breaks, covering sixty metres untouched to score a try which he promptly converted.  (Brackenfell 30 Tygerberg 19 – 60 minutes)

Hardly surprisingly, both sides desperately reacted by throwing everything into attack, with play largely contested in the middle of the field.  De Kock missed a penalty as well as an audacious attempt at a dropped goal before his forwards rumbled the ball up, only to lose it through poor handling.

Tygerberg drove play back, but conceded a scrum when the maul was held up.  Chiwara made a crucial tackle when he caught Henecke in possession from the kick ahead, the pressure forcing a knock-on when the full-back offloaded the ball. 

Awarded a penalty for a dangerous tackle, Tygerberg put everything into a determined final effort, but conceded possession when they couldn’t release the ball.  Brackenfell held their nerve to take the scrum, giving De Kock the simple task of clearing the ball into touch to the welcome accompaniment of the final whistle.  Final score : Brackenfell 30 Tygerberg 19.

While this was hardly the most attractive match of the season – which is only to be expected, given the stakes – it was nevertheless a captivating hour and a half of thrust and counterthrust, played in the admirable spirit of mutual respect that has come to characterize such northern suburbs derbies.

A day and a half of often tense but always friendly rivalry may have seen bragging rights move several kilometres to the north for the next twelve months, but every single spectator will have returned home with happy memories of the climax to the winter sports programme.

Not only is sport in a good place alongside the N1, but good manners, mutual respect and good-natured camaraderie are also as healthy as they should be. 

In truth, the post-match reception, under the careful direction of ageless Petri Stoffberg, could hardly have complemented sports organizer Stokkies Truter’s arrangements surrounding the various codes better.  Then again, that is only what one has come to expect from tireless hosts of their ilk.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but it bears mention nonetheless: the referee, Jacques Pienaar, who is one of the most respected local officials and enjoyed a faultless outing, matriculated at Tygerberg !  

The weeks ahead:  The publication of the different “Season in Review” articles will begin in around a fortnight.  Adults: relax; learners, it’s study time ! Article thanks to Uncle Stoop