With three minutes remaining and Villager in the lead by three points, Hamlets secured one of the biggest upset wins in this year’s WP SLB when they sliced through the Brooksider’s defence to score the deciding try, consigning Villager FC to their second loss in as many weeks. The final score was 26 – 30 in favour of the home team after Villager lead 19 – 16 at half time.
For the second time in two weeks the Brookside faithful were left perplexed after another commanding performance in the first half was undone in little less than five minutes after Hamlets scored three tries to overturn a 19 – 6 deficit into a four point lead in the period immediately before and after half time. The complete lack of concentration by Villager is simply inexcusable when one considers the importance of this fixture after last week’s loss and the promotion hopes of the club.
After dominating the league for most of the year, Villager now finds itself in a precarious position on the log with only themselves to blame when the final analysis is told. For the second week in a row Villager have had over 60% possession and have created more scoring opportunities than has been necessary to win, however their lack of finishing, turning down the easy three pointers on offer and poor lapses of concentration at crucial periods on defence, has ensured they now sit second on the log tied with Sir Lowrians, who have a game in hand. The commanding position they once held is now teetering on the edge.
Although the Villager players will look back on this game and be hugely disappointed in the period before and after half time, the spirited Hamlets side were full value for their win on the day as they played their hearts out and defended their line heroically in the second half. The massive crowd and they noise they created in supporting their team was a daunting prospect from the start and it is easy to see why they boast a strong home record over the last few years.
Even with the home ground advantage and their festive supporters, one would be forgiven in thinking Villager were on course for a solid victory after flyhalf Tim Marsh opened his sides scoring account after a great individual effort saw him break the line and chip the fullback to score under the posts in the opening five minutes. Marsh converted his own effort giving his side a seven point lead.
Hamlets replied almost immediately with a storming run up the touchline, only to be denied by desperate defence by the visitors, but they were rewarded when Villager were caught offside which allowed flyhalf Robin Davids to convert the three pointer. Although the following period was characterised by some scrappy play by both sides, Villager held the ascendency which eventually culminated in a try in the corner for Winger Blane Hansen, his fourth in three games. Marsh missed the conversion, but crucially Villager led by nine points.
What was concerning during the lead up to Hansen’s’ try was the numerous penalties the home team conceded at the breakdown on their own line. Although referee Jarred Dorfman did penalise them, the lack of a yellow card after he issued the final warning to the captain did create some consternation among the Villager players and supporters. However be that as it may, the fact that Villager chose to go for the line rather than take the three points, on three separate occasions in the first half, proved foolish when all attempts failed to cross the whitewash.
Although Villager were dominant in the set phases, turning over the home teams scrums and lineouts almost at will, Hamlets were the ones who scored next after Villager were again caught offside allowing Davids to claim another three points, narrowing his teams deficit to six.
Villager would need to score next if they wanted to end the half with a strong enough lead with which to control the game in the second half. This they did when Ashley Clarke barged over after a lineout on the Hamlets five meter line, his power proving too much for the smaller home defenders. With the conversion by Marsh, Villager held a comfortable 19 – 6 lead with only a few minutes before half time.
What followed was one of the worst concentration lapses yet seen by the team this year.
It all started with a mid-field scrum near the half way line, quick hands and a few offloads created the necessary confusion amongst the Villager defenders enabling the kick through to be collected without challenge by fullback Issac Davids who dotted down in the corner with only scrumhalf Christo Terblanche attempting a futile last grasp tackle. With the conversion missed, Hamlets trailed by eight points but with momentum on their side anything could happen.
From the kick off, Hamlets, with their tails up, attacked with vigour catching the Villager players unaware only a minute from half time. A deft chip kick, which should have been collected by Terblanche, was allowed to bounce, landing perfectly for the on-rushing Hamlets supporting players. One pass and a footrace later Villager found themselves under the poles for the second time in as many minutes. With the conversion going wide, Villager went into the half with a slender three point lead, but crucially they surrendered the momentum with which they had enjoyed for most of the half.
With momentum in their favour, Hamlets began the second half where they left off by winning a penalty on the Villager five meter line after the visitors bungled the kick off. A quick tap in the corner and a dummy maul was all it was needed for the home team to claim their third try of the day through inside centre, Grant vd Kolf. With everything going in their favour it was no surprise to see the conversion sailing through from the touch line. With the try and conversion Hamlets claimed the lead for the first time by 23 points to 19.
The subsequent ten minutes saw Villager hit back time and again only to be thwarted by more illegality at the breakdown, which were penalised, but again no card was forthcoming. However Villager did eventually cross the whitewash through tight head prop, Ryan Germishuys, who barged over from close range after Villager were on the attack for some time on the Hamlets line. With the plethora of penalties in the lead up to the try, referee Dorfman did eventually go to his pocket, but one has to ask why this was not done earlier in the game. With the try and subsequent conversion, Villager regained the lead by three points going into the final ten minutes.
As if bungling the subsequent kick-off and lineout wasn’t enough, Villager had their clearance kick charged down and conceded a penalty on their five meter line. For a side who has won many a close game this year, the unorganised panic was a clear indication of the pressure they were under.
With only four minutes to go, and the game hanging by a thread, Referee Dorfman left the field injured to be replaced by the assistant ref, who at the following scrum, penalised Villager for scrumming in. A chirp to the ref received an extra ten for the home team who quick tapped and sliced through the Villager defence to score with two minutes remaining. With the conversion successful, Hamlets led by four points with one last play to go.
With nothing to lose, Villager won the ball back from the kick-off in spectacular style courtesy of Brodie Blows and attacked with everything they had, however a knock on after ten phases condemned the Brooksider’s to their second defeat in a row.
Head Coach Gunner Hughes was disappointed after the game, but believes all is not lost yet. “We had our chances to win, but those five minutes where we lost concentration around half time destroyed us.” He says. “But we took two bonus points away from home and still lie in second place. We have two games left but will have to leave everything out on the field on Friday night if we are to remain in the promotion hunt.”
Villager FC congratulates Hamlets on a gutsy win and thanks them for their superb hospitality and thoroughly enjoyable crowd support. Villager are next up against Pniel Villagers at Brookside on Friday 22 August. Kick-off is at 21h00.
Try: Tim Marsh (1), Blane Hansen (1), Ashley Clarke (1), Ryan Germishuys (1)
Conv: Tim Marsh (3)
Try: Issac Davids (2), Gene vdMerwe (1), Grant vd Kolf (1)
Conv: Robin Davids (2)
Pen: Robin Davids (2)
Villager FC vs Hamlets
1. Troy Lee 2. Scott Pitcher 3. Ryan Germishuys 4. Richard Williams 5. Kwaks Ngwanya 6. Jannie Bester 7. Andrew Wilkins 8. Ashley Clarke (CPT) 9. Christo Terblanche 10. Tim Marsh 11. Blane Hansen 12. David Radloff 13. Stuart Pattison (V/C) 14. Wayne Van Niekerk 15. Jarred Stokes