Villager FC, after a poor start to their return fixture against UWC in their SLA clash at Brookside on Saturday 01 August, were left to rue what might have been after a superb last ten minutes almost saw the home team snatch an unlikely victory but ultimately fell short by 4 points losing 41 – 45. The half time score was 26 – 15 in favour of UWC.
After a long but productive six week break Village were back at Brookside on Saturday with a crucial fixture against UWC. After the disruptions in the changing of coaching personnel towards the end of the 1st half it was always going to be touch and go as to how the players would respond. And respond they did as they took responsibility for the clubs future by working extremely hard in the off-season with a specific focus on conditioning. The players and coaches must be applauded for their attitude. The club is appreciative of their efforts in trying times.
Back to Saturday.
UWC who have to date had a disappointing season came to Village all fired up for this vital game. A win for Village would put them just about clear from relegation and leave a lot for UWC to do. With the Village team looking very different to the last team that got trounced by Sir Lowrian’s, with only 7 players from the Sir Lowrian’s game making the squad for this fixture, it was an epic in the making.
The game kicked off and it was all UWC as they made it known that they were not here to mess around. Their number 8, a Zimbabwean international, was instrumental in the first 20 minutes as he ran like an outside back to play a hand in 3 quick tries. Village needed to wake up and wake up fast. The score rocketed to 19-3 in no time. Village then hit back with a well worked phase play try with new recruit Jaco Nel bustling over. With Jones-Davies missing the conversion the score moved to 19-8. UWC then retaliated and scored another good try out wide that took the score out again to 25-8. Village didn’t lie down though and came back with a sneaky quick tap penalty and try by the ever reliable and elusive Zubyar Abrahams. The kick was converted to give the Brookside faithful some semblance of hope being only 26-15 down at half time.
Facing a similar half time deficit against Sir Lowrian’s the warning bells were ringing. Straight after half time Village came out as men possessed as they hit UWC phase after phase and eventually broke through with a great offload to substitute and impact player Scotty Pitcher. Scotty dotted down but the touch judge saw the pass as forward and hence the try was disallowed. This took the wind out of the Village sails as UWC charged back taking the score to 38-15. Village came back though with a brilliant try in the corner by Damian Rawstorne expertly set up by substitute, Shane Swart. Of course with this try the question on everyone’s lips, “Was there a comeback on the cards?” At 38-20 down Villager still had plenty of work to do however.
UWC would have nothing of it as they ended any thoughts of a Village revival with a relatively soft try close to the posts to further their lead to 45-20 and Village looked at that point just about done and dusted. Not with this team though. With 7 minutes left to play and nothing to lose, the team unleashed wave upon wave of attack on a tiring UWC team. First, skipper Ashley Clarke forced his way over after a series of pick and drives close on the UWC line that closed to gap to 18 points. Then not more than 2 minutes later centre Junaide Joseph broke through from the half way line after an impressive build up in the mid field and dived over under the posts to further close the gap to 11 points.
Of course the Brookside faithful believed the unlikely was about to happen, and so it proved when UWC were yellow carded for a high tackle, enabling replacement centre Brent Saunders to intercept the ball barely 1 minute later to dot down under the posts to reduce the deficit to only 4 points.
With only 2 and a half minutes to go, UWC down to 14 men and the crowd throwing their support behind the team, Village looked for all money to snatch an unlikely victory with momentum on their side. Village attacked from all parts of the field and had numerous penalties go their way but an eventual knock forced one final scrum of the game. Having been dominant in the the scrums the entire match it seemed that the contest was over, but with one last massive effort from the Villager pack saw UWC pushed off their ball to force a tighthead. with the ball in hand and only seconds remaining, Villager threw themselves into the attack but again an unfortunate knock on ended proceedings and the romantic come from behind victory the Brookside faithful believed was on the cards.
All told the fixture was a fantastic game to watch from a spectators view (not the coaches we’re sure!), the intensity from Villager was a vast improvement on the previous fixtures this year and with so many new faces in the side it should not be too long before this side “clicks.” With only a handful of games remaining however, this team will need to click sooner rather than later.
Stand out performances include the combined men of the match, both on debut too, Chadwick Peterson (flanker) and Junaide Joseph (Centre).
Villager wish to congratulate UWC on a superb overall performance and wish them all the best in their remaining fixtures. Villager play Victorians (Vics) in Stellenbosch on Wednesday night in their next fixture. The 1st XV kick off at 21h00.