When Villager started the 2014 season, their second playing in the WP SLB, the question remained, could they do the unimaginable in the club game and regain their SLA status without ‘buying’ a team? At the end of the first round not only do the Dirty Whites top the log, they’re unbeaten after emerging with a 33 – 17 victory over Goodwood away on Saturday 21 June.
Although their results speak for themselves, Villager have not had everything their own way during the first round as injuries and some close calls could very well have disrupted the fairy tale start to their season. However the Dirty Whites have prevailed to reach the mid-season break having won nine from nine and have answered most of what has been asked of them thus far.
In order to finish the first round in pole position and continue the fairy tale, the Dirty Whites would first have to overcome a physical Goodwood side that thoroughly enjoy playing in front of their home supporters. Although the build up to the game was not ideal when the Hands and Hearts game was called off, the break did have the welcomed benefit of rejuvenating the team so much so that they played the entire game with the same free abandon they started the season with.
And boy did it work!
Five tries scored in all with one being the most exciting you will see at any level, tells you all you need to know; this team can play! Their attacking intent was clear from the first touch of the ball until the last reminding one of the glorious amateur days when Springboks regularly pulled the famous White jerseys over their heads and thrilled their loyal supporters with a feast of running rugby which Villager became renowned.
Although the display was not a faultless one as the high number of unforced errors and penalties conceded was a concern, the mere fact that the Dirty Whites went out and played a positive brand of rugby that saw their wings get their fair share of ball was a pleasure to behold. Even though 3 of the five tries were scored by forwards, the way they were scored from counter attack would have left coach Gunner Hughes with a smile on his face.
“We played well on Saturday.” He says. “The break did the trick and the fellas came out firing scoring some scintillating tries and could have scored more but for better handling and finishing.”
Villager were first on the score board when inside centre Brent Sanders picked up the first of his brace for the afternoon when he burgled a try through four would-be Goodwood defenders which Daniel Clarke converted to give his side a seven point lead.
Goodwood were soon on the scoreboard with a try of their own after a sustained period of pressure eventually paid dividends when a well-timed inside pass caught the Villager defence napping which Ruan Groenewald needed no second invitation to dot down in the corner. Flyhalf Franco VD Heever converted equalling the scores.
Although the entire first half was characterised by scrappy play from both sides, Villager failed to finish two clear opportunities that would have been a fair reflection of their first half dominance. It was only when Captain Ashley Clarke took the initiative to barge over from a 5mtr scrum shortly before halftime that Villager reclaimed the lead. Brother Clarke converted.
Goodwood did not help their cause when they received a yellow card five minutes before half time for punching after being caught up in one of the numerous scuffles that unfortunately tarnished an otherwise exciting match.
Villager began the second half the same way they started when livewire flanker Jannie Bester scored in the corner after a sublime offload by tight head prop Ryan Germishuys. The reliable boot of Daniel Clarke converted to move his side into a 14 point lead.
The Dirty Whites were not done with their opponents just yet when they scored what will, in all probability, be the try of the season which saw nine pairs of hands and two offloads set up Germishuys in the corner. The awareness with which he scored the try with the ball behind his head after being tackled short of the line and lying on his back was befitting of only the very best of players. Clarke missed his first and only kick of the afternoon but Villager lead 26 – 7.
Goodwood hit back after the resulting kick off by scoring through a well drilled lineout drive that may have had more devastating consequences during the match had they had more opportunities closer to the Villager line. VD Heever converted reducing their deficit to 12.
As is often the case in Rugby the team that scores conceded shortly thereafter and it was no different for Goodwood when Sanders completed his brace by running through the home team’s defence largely untouched from a lineout move. Clarke made no mistake in front of the poles.
The last quarter was characterised by ill-discipline from both sides as tempers frayed and the referees interpretations became a point of contention for the visitors. The biggest dispute came from the awarding of the home team’s third try after a clear obstruction prevented the Villager defence from tackling the ball carrier. Be that as it may the call stood and Goodwood began a fight back as a result of a string of penalties that went against the visitors due to various infringements that swung the momentum in their favour.
Although Hughes did empty his bench in the last quarter which may have had an effect on their performance, their ill-discipline at the end will be an area they will want to improve on. However the home sides fight back was not enough to overturn what was largely an encouraging performance from the visiting team.
Captain Ashley Clarke was a happy man afterwards. “I thought we played really well at times today.” He said. “We scored some great tries and came away with the bonus point win, but we will need to finish off our opportunities better if we are to push Hammies all the way next week.”
Villager FC are in action again this weekend as they take on 2014 Community Cup semi-finalists in the 139th Derby Day at Brookside on Saturday 28 June.
“In our wildest dreams we wouldn’t have thought it could be as good as it is at the moment.” – Chairman Anton Van Vlaanderen
Try: Ashley Clarke (1), Jannie Bester (1), Brent Sanders (2), Ryan Germishuys (1)
Conv: Daniel Clarke (4)
Try: Ruan Groenewald, Robin Herbet, George Fritz
Conv: Franco Vd Heever (1)
1st XV vs Goodwood RFC:
1. A. Coetzee 2. S. Pitcher 3. R. Germishuys 4. R. Williams 5. A. Wilkins 6. J. Bester 7. B. Blows 8. A. Clarke (cpt) 9. D. Anderson 10. D. Clark, 11. C. Terblanche 12. B. Sanders 13. S. Pattison 14. J. Valentine 15. J. Allderman
16. T. Lee 17. A. Cleophas 18. E. Ntaka 19. LT Stamper 20. B. Hansen 21. J. Sweetnam 22. D. Venter