Villager FC, playing in the inaugural Presidents Cup, overcame a dreadful first half performance and a seven point deficit to beat Brackenfell RFC 18 – 17 in their semi-final clash at City Park on Saturday 20 September. Half time score was 3 – 10 in favour of Brackenfell.
It was always going to be difficult for Villager going into the semi-final of the Presidents Cup after the ecstasy and emotion of their SLB League winning performance against Sir Lowrians three weeks ago. Without having played since, and with numerous players unavailable through either retirement or injury, the “Dirty Whites” would face an uphill battle against the “Brakkies”, a team that had nothing to lose and everything to gain after their upset quarter-final win against St Georges last weekend.
It was patently obvious that Brackenfell were highly motivated for the fixture from the first whistle, and with Villager seemingly disinterested, Brakkies soon took control of the game playing into the stiff South-Easterly breeze. With their forwards dominating the collisions and their backs running the ball from everywhere, Brackenfell were first to score.
With a new flyhalf in the form of regular scrumhalf, Christo Terblanche, Villager took some time to get going on attack. With the wind at their backs, their attempt to play for territory was soon scuppered in favour of a running game, a tactic which played directly into the hands of Brackenfell. Although Villager claimed a monster 55 meter three pointer courtesy of Neil du Toit, it was Brackenfell who scored another try after the lethargic Villager defence failed to stop their big ball carriers from gaining momentum. Although the conversion was missed, Brakkies held a healthy seven point lead at the break after Villager missed a penalty attempt shortly before.
Although the rust and lethargy can be partly explained away, it was evident the Villager players were not particularly pleased with their efforts up to that point and with some choice words being shared at the break, Villager started the second half in fine form. With Terblanche finding his feet, his timeous pass to man of the match, Stuart Pattision, set up the centre to break the line and link up with fullback Louis Gabriel for the Brooksiders first try of the game. With the conversion by du Toit missed, Brakkies held onto their lead by two points.
The try by Gabriel had the definitive effect of changing the momentum in favour of Villager; their subsequent attacking endeavours proved their SLB champion status and had Brackenfell reeling on a number of occasions. Although many of these attacks went scoreless as a result of poor execution, Villager did claim the lead for the first time through star player Jannie Bester, who chipped kicked over the defence, juggled the ball and stepped two players to claim the first of his brace for the day. Not long afterwards Bester claimed his second after collecting another chip kick handing his side a slender, but vital, eight point lead.
Down but not out, Brackenfell put enormous pressure on Villager in the last quarter and were considerably unlucky not to have scored a few tries during this period. With only desperate last ditch defensive efforts by Brent Sanders, Brodie Blows and Donny Venter keeping Brackenfell from scoring, the pressure did eventually tell when they crossed the Villager whitewash minutes from the end of the game.
As has often been the case this year the Villager experience and patience eventually forced an error from the opposition in the final movement of the game handing them the win. As a result, Villager now faces Milnerton RFC in the Presidents Cup Final on 04 October rumoured to be played at Newlands Stadium. Times to be confirmed.
Apart from the 1st XV, Villager was also involved in the u20 President Cup semi-final against Goodwood RFC u20 also played at City Park. Just the same as the firsts, the unavailability of numerous stalwarts ensured the “Vikings” suffered from a lack of continuity and preparation. Although bolstered by some of the Shebeen Boys, it was not enough to overcome a highly motivated Goodwood side.
Out muscled upfront, the Vikings never really got into the game and were chasing shadows for most of the afternoon. A dire first half display, playing with the wind, saw Goodwood leading 15 – 0 at the break. A vastly improved performance in the second half saw the Villager boys play some exciting and expansive rugby, only for their good work to be undone by taking unnecessary contact and coughing up possession. A final score of 0 – 29 does not do the efforts of the Villager boys justice, but unfortunately the loss brings down the curtain on a successful Vikings 2014 season.
Tries: Jannie Bester (2), Louis Gabriel (1)
Pen: Neil du Toit (1)
Villager FC 1st XV
1. Adrian Cleophas 2. Scott Pitcher 3. Jarrod Amon 4. Luke Westgarth Taylor 5. Richard Williams 6. Jannie Bester 7. Payden Viviers 8. Ashley Clarke (CPT) 9. Daniel Anderson 10. Christo Terblanche 11. Blane Hansen 12. Brent Sanders 13. Stuart Pattison (V/C) 14. Neil Du Toit 15. Louis Gabriel