Vereeniging coach Stephan Jacobs has heaped praise on East Rand United lock forward Bakkies Bakumeni following the memorable Valke Peregrine League semi-final clash between the two sides in Reiger Park on August 4.
United dumped the defending champions out of the running with a 26-25 scoreline, and not only did Jacobs believe that Bakumeni was the biggest thorn in his side, but that he was the outright best player on the pitch.
“Their number four lock played very, very well,” said the trainer.
“He jammed all our line-outs and made it hard for us to get a go-forward ball. Our strength lies in the lineouts and he made it very tough for us, he read the lineouts very well. For me, he was the man of the match,” said the coach, before giving his opinion on the clash.
“They (United) played a good match, they kept up the pressure and it paid off. It was good entertainment for the crowd and the tickets should’ve cost R150 instead of R10. I think the fans got way more than they paid for.
“The outcome was stressful on my part, they were the better team this year. We beat them in the final last year and they’ve come back and beat us three times which shows that they were better this time.
“I wish them all the best, I think the final has already been played but I wish them all the best going into the final against Springs. They (United) have a lot of talent there.
“Kicks were also very important you know. We kicked about four balls on the full and that makes a difference at the end of the day. We’ve lost this one but we’ll fight back and come back next season, that’s how rugby goes.”
- Healthy rivalry
The encounter, which was arguably the best this year, ends what has been a growing and healthy rivalry for Valke provincial rugby – at least for now.
This one could’ve easily gone either way, and Jacobs’ men showed why they were the defending champions.
In the very first encounter at United’s Graveyard Stadium, a very confident United side came in at the back of new and valuable experience following their participation in the Carlton League – which is a few tiers above the Peregrine League.
United’s confidence showed early on in that encounter as they blitzed to a 34-7 half-time lead and it seemed like the defending champs were going to be blown out the park.
Instead what seemed like a United handsome win soon became a scare as Vereeniging rallied back in the second. However, the deficit proved too much and United emerged as 48-40 winners.
The Reiger Park outfit then travelled to Vereeniging a month later, on July 21, and the narrative remained the same as United earned a hard-fought 30-24 win.
The local side then had to prove what they’re made of as the log’s fate pitted the sides together for the right to feature in the final for the second consecutive year.
The rest, as they say, is history.