In winning six out of six, Villager FC maintained their unbeaten run and their top of the log standing in the 2014 WP Super League B after they overcame a three point half time deficit to beat Rangers RFC side at a packed Brookside on Friday 23 May. Final score 29 – 23.
Villager FC, although unbeaten, have not taken any team lightly after many close shaves over the last few weeks but did not expect to be trailing by three points going into the final ten minutes. The fact that Rangers RFC arrived at Brookside with a huge contingent of their loyal and vocal fans tells you all you need to know about this game; they came to win.
Rangers began the game well and surged into a six point lead through two penalties from fullback Ismail Scott, while they were unlucky not to move further ahead after scrumhalf Daniel Anderson failed to field a high ball that was kicked through, but for a last ditch tackle by lock Kwaks Ngwanya, a sure try was on the cards. Ngwanya was penalised for not rolling away that should have given Rangers a nine point lead but Scott strangely missed an easy opportunity.
Villager slowly woke up and came close to scoring their first points when Ashley Clarke chose to go for the corner rather than the easy three on offer, a theme that would continue throughout the match, only for Ryan Germishuys to knock on whilst he was over the line. Villager eventually got on the scoreboard after Rangers infringed in their 22m which Daniel Clarke made no mistake. Rangers led 6 – 3.
Although Villager dominated the half and the forward exchanges they were lucky not to concede more points when Rangers put a clever kick behind winger Donny Venter that had left wing Jethro Valentine desperately diving on the ball, a race he only just won, and slid over the touchline. Only his bravery separated Villager from conceding a try at a crucial point in the first half.
Ranger’s strategy of going for points, even from their own 10m, proved to be erroneous as most fell short allowing Villager to clear their lines or launch counter attacks relieving the home side of the pressure that comes from defending in their 22m.
The biggest talking point of the game came when Rangers began stepping away from the devastating Villager driving maul which referee Ivan Solomon repeatedly blew as obstruction, although contested by Ashley Clarke, the tactic changed the game by removing the Villager dominance at the lineout. Although the referees’ interpretation of the law may be argued, the fact remains that Rangers did their homework and it had the desired effect on the home team.
Rangers, boosted by their lineout ploy and playing on the Villager player’s frustration, scored a fantastic try from their back pedalling scrum that started with eighth man Rushdie Salie expertly controlling the ball which he offloaded to scrumhalf Faeez Charles who broke away and linked up with winger Edgar Valentine who scored a great try in the corner. Scott converted to further Rangers lead to ten points.
Villager hit back after a period of sustained pressure in Rangers 22m when Captain Clarke barged over from a scrum on Rangers five meter line which gave the loyal Brookside supporters a measure of relief as Villager began clawing their way back into the game. Daniel Clarke converted reducing Rangers lead to three.
Crucially, as has been the case in the past few weeks, Rangers conceded a yellow card for dangerous play just before half time after tight head prop Moegamat Davids deliberately stamped on a Villager player at the breakdown. Although going into the half with a three point deficit, Rangers ill-discipline ensured Villager went into the change room with their tails up.
Half time score 10 – 13.
Showing intent immediately, Villager were awarded a penalty after the kick off that Clarke used to go for the corner, a decision he ensured was the correct one as he crashed over to score a vital try using the Rangers ploy of stepping away at the lineout against them. Daniel Clarke in keeping up his envious kicking reputation converted his second from the corner giving his side the lead for the first time of the match.
The decisive moment in the game arrived after a sublime counter attacking run by Rangers star centre Shuaib “Bom” Samaai led to a try under the Villager poles that had Brookside shaking from the shouts of delight from the travelling supporters. Scott made no mistake converting the try regaining the lead by 20 points to 17 going into the final ten minutes.
It has not been often this season that the Villager team has played to their potential, but the prospect of their first loss of the season was not something they were going to take lying down and hit back with a ferocity that brought Brookisde to their feet. Led by the Clarke brothers, Ashley and Daniel, as well as man of the match Andrew Wilkins, Villager attacked straight from the kick off that culminated in an exhilarating try for livewire flank Jannie Bester. Clarke missed his first kick of the evening, but crucially Villager led 22 – 20.
Rangers had the opportunity to move into the lead again shortly afterwards, but again Scott’s attempt fell short. However Scott received another opportunity almost immediately when replacement prop, Ayden Coetzee, was penalised somewhat dubiously for a high tackle. Scott made no mistake from the corner in front of his travelling fans and ensured this game was heading for a pulsating finish.
Although an upset was on the cards, the Villager players did not panic and got on with the job at hand showing the value the seniors have over the youngersters in the team. The resulting kick off by Daniel Clarke was expertly placed for replacement flanker, Brodie Blows, to pluck out of the air allowing Villager the chance to launch their final few attacks to win the game.
In big moments some players falter whilst others thrive; Daniel Clarke and Jannie Bester thrived. Clarke took the initiative making his second break in as many minutes that set up an unbelievable try for Bester who had some work to do to score the winning try under the poles. Clarke converted, confirming another win for the unbeaten 2014 Villager 1st XV.
Head Coach Andrew Hughes was a relived man after the final whistle, “I’m so proud of the fellas for emerging as victors against the odds including the fact that playing at Brookside tonight was basically like an away game with the amount of the travelling supporters. It would be great to play in front of more of our supporters next week against Brackenfell, but for now I am just happy we have maintained our unbeaten record and remain at the top of the log.”
Villager FC upcoming fixture is against Brackenfell on Saturday 31 May at Brookside. Games begin at 2:30pm culminating in the 1st XV game at 4pm.
Try: Jannie Bester (2), Ashley Clarke (2)
Conv: Daniel Clarke (3)
1st XV vs Rangers RFC:
1. A. Cleophas 2. T. Lee 3. R. Germishuys 4. K. Ngwanya 5. R. BEzuidenhout 6. J. Bester 7. A. Wilkins 8. A. Clarke (cpt) 9. D. Anderson 10. D. Clark, 11. D. Venter 12. B. Sanders 13. S. Pattison 14. J. Valentine 15. J. Allderman
16. S. Pitcher 17. E. Ntaka 18. A. Coetzee 19. B. Blows 20. J. Sweetnam 21. D. Radloff 22. M. Rockhill