Villager FC continued their unbeaten run in the WP SLB when they beat a highly motivated Kraaifontein side at their home ground on Friday 6 June. The final score was 16 – 14 in favour of the Dirty Whites after a closely fought first half held both teams to 3 all at the break.
In what was expected to be a tricky encounter but not a particularly difficult one, top of the log Villager FC made hard work of beating a Kraaifontein side that would have been deserved winners had they converted the last minute penalty they were awarded by referee Riaan Tolkin.
Although the Dirty Whites secured their eighth win in a row both the players and coaches will need to go back to the drawing board in order to rediscover the devastating form they started the season with. The disappointing aspect of the last two games does not lie in the fact that they were not runaway victors, that would detract from their opponents excellent performances, it seemingly lies somewhere between the predictable tactics and their inability to finish off their opportunities when they do arise.
The predictability of the Villager performances of late may be put down to the weight of expectation the side are under to remain unbeaten and gain promotion. As a consequence the risky and unpredictable style of play many of their recent opponents have employed may be viewed as too dangerous an option as the fear of failure becomes a reality. Villager do possess players with attacking prowess but currently they have not been given the type of ball with which they need to excel and spark the game into life.
Head Coach Andrew Hughes believes the side may have gone into their shells slightly. “The pressure to win and to do the club proud is real.” He says. “The members and supporters as well as the players themselves really want to get Village back to the SLA next year and this I believe is affecting our play somewhat.”
Although Villager began the game poorly with a knock on, they did dominate the Kraaifontein scrum and drove from the lineout with purpose. However a series of unforced errors, turnovers at the breakdown and a string of penalties ensured the visitors never capitalised on their first half forward dominance with only a Daniel Clarke penalty to show for their efforts.
Kraaifontein on the other hand played with the free abandon one can expect from a side with nothing to lose but everything to gain. Their quick taps and offloading nearly paid dividends as the Villager defence was pushed to its limits on a few occasions, but like the visitors went into the half with only a three pointer courtesy of Jandre Lazenby.
The second half started ominously for the visitors when Kraaifontein took the lead through a Marlin Jacobs try after a deft kick behind the Villager defence ensured he cantered through untouched. Crucially the conversion was missed but Kraaifontein held the early advantage. Villager did hit back soon afterwards with a Daniel Clarke penalty that reduced their deficit to two points.
With their tails up as a result of the try, Kraaifontein took control of the third quarter by dominating the vaunted Villager pack in the driving mauls and at the breakdown. Kraaifontein were rewarded for their ascendency with a penalty that Lazenby slotted extending the home sides lead to three.
Villager were in trouble going into the fourth quarter as they failed to finish off two opportunities during the previous quarter as a result of the exemplary defence by the home team. However Villager did eventually hit back when Captain Ashley Clarke took the initiative and quick tapped to crash over for the vital five pointer which brother Daniel converted moving Villager into the lead by two.
With Kraaifontein looking for the deciding try the unthinkable occurred for the visiting side when centre Stuart Pattison received a yellow card for a tip tackle. With his game all but over with 14 minutes left Villager would have to dig deep to secure another win. The resulting penalty kick going astray did not help the home teams cause and went someway in restoring the Villager resolve.
A sustained period of pressure by the Kraaifontein forwards tested the visiting team as they drove forward with gusto in an effort to reclaim their lead, only to be held out by the desperate Villager pack on their own try line. The Villager nightmare continued however when a second yellow card was brandished to winger Christo Terblanche for a professional foul which left the visitors with only 13 men to finish the game. Soffell Marais made no mistake with the subsequent penalty kick regaining the lead for his side going into the last ten minutes.
The second half substitutions had a big impact on the visitor’s performance and although down to 13 men one felt that this team somehow knew what to do. So it proved when Villager were rewarded with two penalties, one of which Daniel Clarke converted, as well as a yellow card against Kraaifontein for a repeated infringement. Although Villager seemed on the up they held only a slender two point lead going into the last five minutes.
Villager, as they have done successfully this year, aimed to hold on to the ball as the clock wound down but were penalised by referee Tolkin for going off their feet at the breakdown. In a moment of madness one of the Kraaifontein players knocked on the quick tap that was surely within range, but gave Villager one last chance to secure victory. From the scrum Villager kept it close amongst the forwards but succeeded only in conceding another penalty. Fortunately for the Dirty Whites the kick was pulled to the left, should it have gone over there would have been no complaints; Kraaifontein would have been deserved winners in this ding dong battle on the scoreboard.
Hughes believes it was a good learning experience however. “To come out with a win with 13 men on the park in the last quarter and being one point down with barely five minutes left on the clock takes some guts.” He said. “Although our performance was subpar, I think the team will take a lot away from this game.”
Villager is in action again this weekend at Brookside against Hands and Hearts on Saturday 14 June.
Try: Ashley Clarke (1)
Conv: Daniel Clarke (1)
Pen: Daniel Clarke (3)
Try: Marlin Jacobs (1)
Pen: Jandre Lazenby (2) Stoffel Marais (1)
1st XV vs Kraaifontein RFC:
1. T. Lee 2. S. Pitcher 3. A. Cleophas 4. R. Bezuidenhout 5. E. Ntaka 6. A. Wilkins 7. B. Blows 8. A. Clarke (cpt) 9. J. Sweetnam 10. D. Clark, 11. C. Terblanche 12. B. Sanders 13. S. Pattison 14. D. Venter 15. J. Allderman
16. A. Coetzee 17. R. Germishuys 18. K. Ngwanya 19. J. Bester 20. 21. D. Anderson 22. T. Marsh