The final score was 33-27 after the hosts led 17-15 at the break this is the second season back in the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU)SLA for Villager and their improvement is undeniable.
The Claremont-based club survived the cut at the end of 2018, no mean achievement as adapting to the rigours of rugby in a league widely regarded as the best in the country is daunting enough.
SLA 2019 is progressing a little better for the Villager, seemingly out of the clutches of the relegation zone before this encounter, with some daylight now created which will allow them to focus on performance in the league and not survival.
Results between Hamilton and Villager over the last dozen years have gone the way of the Green Point big guns, keeping in mind that Villager have been competing in the SLB for the better part of that period and the pre-season derby has mostly been the only comparison available.
Bycontrast,Hammies have won the SLA and have been crowned national club champions during the same
period. Matchday dawned with a pervasive air of anticipation, an upset most definitely on the cards but by the time the main match arrived, the hosts had won all four of the matches on the day.
With a bitterly cold north-westerly wind pumping from one set of uprights to the other, a substantial first half lead for the team playing with the wind in the first half was imperative. Both teams endeavoured to run the ball in a match which produced end-to-end, high quality rugby and eight tries, five of them to the visitors.
The platform for this was in the form of two big packs of forwards which went hammer and tong at each other, creating space for their backs to run the ball. The Villager loose trio of Jan Bester, Ross Becket and Raynard Stammer were outstanding on the day, with Stammer set to produce an individual piece of brilliance in injury time that will be difficult to forget.
Hamilton hooker Martin van Wyk was a livewire, covering ground as he popped up in support. Pivot Logan Basson controlled his team’s field position with impeccable line-kicking while keeping the scoreboard rolling with his 12-point haul with the boot.
HiscounterpartSentle Lehobo, on debut for Villager, perform admirably in the hot-seat. Outside him, centre Mujaahid van der Hoven sparkled, a 50-metre try ample reward for his efforts. Cards cost the home team dearly. Hammies were left scrambling to contain a Villager team which had sensed victory with 13 men for the last 10 minutes, a strong wind in their face to increase the difficulty level. The Green Point outfit had extended their two-point half time lead to nine, but the visitors clawed back with a converted try. Tension and excitement added to the shivers supporters were experiencing from the chilly conditions. Basson extended the Hammies two-point lead to eight with two penalties and as the match entered the final 10 minutes, it seemed that the hosts would leave with the match honours.
The Brooksiders clawed their way back, reducing the Hammies lead to a single point on the stroke of full time. It looked as if a narrow victory belonged to Hamilton, but with injury time ticking away, a mixture of heartbreaking error combined with individual brilliance broke the hearts of the Seaboard side and gave Villager a deserved victory. A Hamilton lineout on the halfway line saw the ball bounce loose and into the welcoming hands of the stocky Stammer, who showed a deft turn of pace as he sprinted unhindered to cross the line to give his team the lead for the first time.
The value of the win cannot be understated. To demonstrate the progress of the Claremont club, they lost 97-3 in the 2014 pre-season derby when they were still in SLB. While by no means suggesting that the Villager season is made and that they are set to soar, confidence is a key ingredient to continued performance and if they continue their upward curve, a top eight finish in the SLA may not be an impossible dream.
Villager have a bye this weekend and then travel to Milnerton next week. Hamilton host False Bay at the Stephan Oval. Matches start at 1.30pm with the main match starting at 4pm.
Elsewhere, Schotschekloof (SK) Walmer Rugby Football Club stretched their tally to three wins in six games after a 31-24 victory over Paarl during a Super League A encounter at Green Point Track on Saturday.
Under wet conditions, in front of a dedicated crowd, the SK Walmer outfit maintained 12th spot with 15 points thanks to a try in the last five minutes. A fortnight ago, SK Walmer caused an upset in the north after they impressed with a 36-29 win over fourth-placed Union-Milnerton (Uni-Mil) in Milnerton. They will look to continue their winning ways when they host a dangerous Durbanville-Bellville (Durbell) side at home on Saturday. It does not get any easier for Hamilton as they will face a difficult False Bay side at home on Saturday. False Bay and UCT are the combined log leaders with 36 points each.