The University of Johannesburg will play NWU-Pukke in the final of the 37th National Club Championships after both teams pulled off dramatic victories in Wednesday’s Cup semi-finals at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
UJ ended defending champions College Rovers’ incredible two-year, 42-match winning streak when they held on for a nailbiting 27-26 win in the first semi-final.
The Gauteng students scored three tries to one, to wing Wigan Pekeur, scrumhalf Jacques Pretorius and lock Marnus van Huyssteen, and were deserved winners.
But Rovers, who were not at their best, were left wondering what might have been after flyhalf Guy Cronjé, who slotted six penalties and a drop goal, missed the conversion of fullback Chris Jordaan’s injury-time try that would have given his team the win.
In the other semi-final, Pukke, thanks to two tries from flying wing Johannes Seerane, rocked hosts Maties with four first-half touchdowns to set up what looked like an unexpectedly one-sided victory.
But they didn’t bank on Maties’ fighting spirit, the hosts scoring three tries in the dying minutes to threaten a famous come-from-behind victory. In the end, however, Pukke hung on for a 39-36 win to steer them to their fifth final in eight years.
Pukke, champions in 2004, 2006 and 2008, will be playing in their first final since 2009, when they lost their crown to Hamilton in Pretoria. Friday’s final will be the first between UJ and Pukke in the competition’s 37-year history and, unusually, both teams play in the same provincial league, namely the Golden Lions’ Predator League, even though Pukke are representing the Leopards.
It will be UJ’s first final since 2005, when they lost 24-13 to Maties in Stellenbosch.
It will also be the first time since 2007 that two university teams contest the final, with College Rovers (2008 and 2010) and Hamilton (2009) featuring in the three most recent title deciders. It will also be the first all-northern final since 2004, when Pukke beat Tshwane University of Technology 41-10.
In the Plate competition, Shimlas will play Boland champions Roses United after the Bloem students beat Noordelikes 85-0 and Roses beat Progress 40-27 in a thrilling encounter.
Finals (Friday 23 Sept):
Plate: Shimlas v Roses United 11h00 (live on SuperSport)
Cup: UJ v Pukke 13h00 (live on SuperSport)
Day 3 results:
College Rovers 26 UJ 27
Maties 36 NWU-Pukke 39
Shimlas 85 Noordelikes 0
Roses United 40 Progress 27
Day 2 results:
College Rovers 44 Winter Rose 6
Maties 43 Tuks 22
UJ 41 Welkom Rovers 20
Pukke 37 Park 14
Shimlas 29 SK Walmers 15
Roses United 40 Middelburg 22
Noordelikes 29 Springs 27
Progress 22 Kimberley Police 12
Day 1 results:
UJ 91 Noordelikes 21
Park 28 Progress 27
Shimlas 12 Winter Rose 18
Springs 36 Welkom Rovers 40
Pukke 117 Kimberley Police 0
Roses United 22 Tukkies 39
Maties 61 Middelburg 20
College Rovers 46 SK Walmers 0