Preseason preparation for the upcoming WP SLA rugby season continued as Hamilton SP RFC 1st team squad travelled to the Bay on Saturday 11 March 2017 after an impressive 33-14 mid-week win against an Argentina 1st Division Club – Biblioteca Mariano Moreno.
Taking on the 2016 Champions was always going to be a tough one, though Hammies were the only club to take points off False Bay in last year’s pulsating draw at the Bay. With 10 senior players not available due to injury, Head Coach – Niekkie Viljoen and his staff selected a very solid 25 man squad for this friendly outing.
In a match of two halves, False Bay took the lead midway through first half with a converted try and scored a second near halftime from a Hamilton error when we did not find touch from our 22. Leading 14-0 at the break, False Bay were looking comfortable. To make matters worse for Hammies, hardworking flanker, Dale Wilson was stretched off with a dislocated elbow and was rushed to hospital.
Hamilton RFC – second elbow injury in just two preseason matches (Louis “Panda” Jordaan is recovering from surgery that he sustained against the Argentinians).
Whatever got said at the break by the coaching staff definitely made an impact on the second half and the game. Hamilton’s produced a dominant performance from the break and the referee had no option than to award a penalty try after sustained pressure by our pack after several dominant scrums in the 22 metre area of False Bay. Within 15 minutes of the second half, Hamilton’s were level on points. This came after False Bay missed touch and fullback, Shane Valender started a counter attack on his 10 metre line. He fed the ball inside to the “back of the match” flyhalf – Siya Alam who broke up field and carried it a good 30 metres before offloading to debutant winger, Tshepo Manaka who was tackled after a backwards fumble. A quick ruck went blindside just outside the 22 metre line of False Bay and hooker, Robbie Trueman offloaded to Siya Alam who perfectly timed an inside pass that sent Shane Valender clear to score a very good try.
Locked at 14 all and with 25 minutes played in the second-half, Hammies continued to put tremendous pressure on the backline of False Bay. Under this pressure they succumbed when by flyer, Valentino Wellman brilliantly intercepted on halfway to give Hamilton the lead for the first time in the game. Leading 21-14 with 10 minutes left on the clock, the victory was sealed as we continued to put sustained pressure on the False Bay lineout in their 22 metre area. Several pickup and drive movements with ruck phases saw Tshepo Manaka pick the ball up from a quick ruck and dive over for the fourth Hammies try to extend the lead to 26-14.
Five minutes later, False Bay scored their only points of the half with fast pick drive and offloads through the middle that saw Hammies old boy, Taps Tsomondo score his side’s third try of the game. Lead on the day with a brilliant performance by stand-in Captain, Neil Cleghorn, Hamilton RFC ran out winners 26-19 in a terrific show case of WP SLA rugby.
The tremendous work ethic that has been put in by Fitness Coach, Graham Bentz definitely contributed to the success of both Hammies 1st and 2nd teams who were both down 14-0 during their respective wins. Let us also acknowledge the fantastic work that our new Backline Coach, Koos Eksteen has put in thus far. As was said by our Head Coach and I quote – “lets remain humble in our victory and work even harder to achieve our goals for 2017”!
On Saturday 18 March 2017, the 140th annual Derby between Hamilton and Villagers will take place at home. I am sure Niekkie Viljoen will take confidence into this titanic clash after his team’s solid performance against the 2016 Gold Cup runners-up, False Bay RFC.