FNB Maties bounced back from a disappointing start to the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International to beat FNB NWU-Pukke 31-21 in Potchefstroom.
It was the first win of the competition for the three-time champions, following defeats to FNB NMMU and FNB UCT, whilst it was the first defeat of the season for NWU-Pukke who notched a full house of ten log points from their first two games.
Maties took control of the game early on and raced out to a 21-0 half-time lead, before weathering a NWU-Pukke comeback at the start of the second half and going on to secure the bonus point.
The visitors made a great start to the game with flank Beyers de Villiers crossing the whitewash after breaking from a maul after just four minutes to hand his team the early initiative.
That was followed up soon afterwards by a try from wily centre Johnny Kôtze which put Maties firmly in the driving seat with a 13-0 lead.
The home side needed a response and they launched an extended period of pressure in Maties territory as they looked to hit back, but they could not find a way through the committed defence.
The Stellenbosch side showed great character to soak up the fierce onslaught from their hosts, and they were rewarded just before the half-time break when flyhalf Robert du Preez scored a try which he converted himself.
The home side made a determined start to the second half, and it paid off when big wing Luther Obi burst over after a powerful scrum to reduce Maties’ lead to 21-5.
NWU-Pukke scored another through flank Robey Labuschagne which was converted by Adriaan Engelbrecht, but Maties hit back through Louis Jordaan which sealed the bonus point for the visitors.
The crowd got right behind NWU-Pukke as they looked to fight their way back into contention in the dying stages, and it was replacement scrumhalf Dillon Smit who got over for a late try to give his side a glimpse of hope.
However, two late penalties from the boot of Du Preez ended any thoughts of a comeback victory as Maties held on for a deserved 33-21 victory.
For FNB NWU-Pukke:
Tries: Obi, Labuschagne, Smit
Cons: Engelbrecht 2
For FNB Maties:
Tries: De Villiers, Kôtze, Du Preez, Jordaan
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pens: Du Preez 2
FNB UP-Tuks humbled a plucky FNB UFS-Shimlas side as they eased to a 26-0 victory in a stop-start FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International encounter in Pretoria on Monday.
The visitors showed their willingness to go wide from the get go while the hosts had a more measured approach, testing the UFS-Shimlas back three with up-and-unders and hitting up the ball with strong, direct running.
Line-out throws were an early Achilles heel for both sides in the perfect conditions, with skew throws from Sidney Tobias – son of former Springbok back Errol Tobias – and Jacques du Toit squandering try-scoring opportunities inside the attacking 22.
Tobias finally found his jumper, captain Reniel Hugo, in the 20th minute and flank Roelof Smit was driven over from five metres out as UP-Tuks drew first blood. Flyhalf Tian Schoeman kicked the conversion to make it 8-0.
The visitors remained under the cosh for the majority of the first half and had great difficulty under the high ball. It was only through excellent defence, with captain Joubert Engelbrecht leading by example, and poor execution that UP-Tuks were unable to yield further reward for their territorial dominance.
The hosts butchered several more opportunities, and Schoeman’s missed penalty on the stroke of half-time summed up what was a frustrating first half for the defending champions.
UFS-Shimlas built some welcome momentum shortly after the interval but the heads dropped when flyhalf Gouws Prinsloo bit off too much with his penalty for the line and kicked the ball dead in-goal.
The Free Staters returned to the red zone on the hour mark but after being unable to breach the resolute UP-Tuks defence, Oupa Moheje was penalised for holding on.
A breakaway by fullback Warrick Gelant got UP-Tuks back inside the attacking 22 where another excellent opportunity went begging when replacement Andrew Beerwinkel knocked on in contact one metre from the line.
UP-Tuks, however, were relentless and were finally rewarded when former IRB Junior World Championship-winning Baby Boks skipper Wiaan Liebenberg crashed over in the 69th minute after 12 phases to put some distance between them and Shimlas.
Schoeman added the conversion and kicked a penalty with five minutes to go, with Hugo having the final say with an intercept try in the last play of the game.
For FNB UP-Tuks:
Tries: Smit, Liebenberg, Hugo
Cons: Schoeman 3
The FNB Ikey Tigers wrestled back the Monte Taljaard Trophy from their opponents in Port Elizabeth on Monday night, beating the FNB NMMU Madibaz by 26-13 in a hard-fought Varsity Cup, Round Three encounter.
The Monte Taljaard Trophy is played in honour of UCT First XV flank and Grey PE rugby star Monte Taljaard, who tragically passed away in a car accident in September 2008, and UCT’s tenacity away from home – and NMMU’s resilience as hosts – were befitting of the inspirational former Ikeys star.
The Madibaz lifted the trophy for the first time in 2012, winning in dramatic circumstances, with UCT having – up till then – never lost to NMMU in the history of the Varsity Cup, the teams having drawn 5-5 on a windswept Green Mile last year which saw the trophy stay in Port Elizabeth.
Now, however, UCT can take the trophy back home to Cape Town and new coach Kevin Musikanth will be a happy man – having now guided his team to successive away wins over the Maties and the Madibaz after a disappointing opening-round home loss to NWU-Pukke two weeks ago.
The Ikeys scored three tries to two on a windless night in Port Elizabeth, with UCT management member Jonathan Kaplan commenting on Twitter before kick-off: “We are in PE. There is no wind. I waited 30 years as a ref for this special moment… what a beautiful day!!”
Whether the lack of wind benefited UCT remains to be seen, but they started strongly and scored the game’s first try through big flanker Shaun McDonald, flyhalf Dean Grant converting for an 8-0 lead after just five minutes of play in front of a noisy crowd of 7,890.
The visitors held their 8-0 lead going into the first strategy break, but the Madibaz hit back with their first points through a try by outside centre Michael Bernardt, with flyhalf Gavin Hauptfleisch adding the extras.
Worse was to follow for the Ikeys when try-scorer McDonald was carded for repeated infringements in the build-up to half-time, but UCT thought little of their one-man deficit when speedster Lihleli Xoli crossed for a valuable try a minute before half-time.
Grant made no mistake with his second conversion attempt of the night as the Ikeys led 16-8 at half-time, the UCT No.10 then extending his team’s lead in the 50th minute with a penalty goal as the Madibaz lost hooker Martin Ferreira to the sin bin.
UCT soon had a player joining Ferreira in the naughty chair and the hosts were rewarded when scrumhalf Daniel Acker scored but flyhalf Hauptfleisch missed the conversion to leave his team trailing 13-18 going into the final quarter.
The teams were soon back to their full complement of players, meaning a tense finish to the match as the hosts chased yet another come-from-behind victory – as they did in Johannesburg against FNB UJ last Monday.
However, the Ikeys held on in the closing stages, despite a massive onslaught from the Madibaz. A last-minute Richard Stewart intercept try, with NMMU having camped in UCT’s 22 for some five minutes, eventually brought about the final whistle and a famous away win for the Ikeys – crucially also denying their hosts a losing bonus point.
For UCT, flyhalf Dean Grant once again impressed with an 11-point haul and good kicking out of hand, whilst hard-working No.7 flanker Jason Klaasen walked off with the official Man of the Match Award as the Ikeys moved up to fifth place on the log – just behind the Madibaz on points’ difference.
For the FNB NMMU Madibaz:
Tries: Bernardt, Acker
For the UCT Ikey Tigers:
Tries: McDonald, Xoli, Stewart
Cons: Grant 3
FNB UJ scored four tries to beat local rivals FNB Wits 32-15 and notch their first victory of the season in Johannesburg on Monday night.
The home team simply made better use of their opportunities to earn a bonus-point victory against a spirited Wits outfit that is still looking for their first win in the competition.
Wits made a promising start to the game, forcing UJ to play from their own half in the opening exchanges, and it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard first through a penalty from scrumhalf Matthew Torrance.
They kept the pressure on and were soon on the attack again in the UJ 22 where flank JP Jonck came within inches of scoring but a double movement meant that UJ got away with it.
Having soaked up that early pressure UJ launched an attack of their own, and after working their way into the right corner the ball was spun wide to wing Michael Haznar who got over in the corner to put his team 8-2 up.
Wits looked for a response and hammered away at the UJ defence, but the home team stood firm and managed to clear their lines without conceding any more points to leave them with a six-point advantage in the first strategy break.
Wits were determined to make their dominance count, but crucial errors saw their attacking forays break down too often as UJ managed to keep them at bay.
Their hosts made them pay and gave them a lesson in finishing as well when some good handling in midfield saw centre Jacques Nel cross for their second try.
UJ would take a comfortable 24-2 lead into the half-time break, with flank Tiaan MacDonald crashing over for their third try from a powerful driving maul and fullback Marais Schmidt slotting his third conversion.
Wits started the second half with purpose as they looked for a way back into the game, and they were finally rewarded when replacement Jason Fraser ran a good angle to score their first try just before the second strategy break.
UJ were hunting for their bonus-point try and came close with a driving maul, but a turnover and breakaway by Wits wing Jacques Erasmus put his side right back on the attack, with Jonck eventually forcing his way over for a try which cut UJ’s lead to 24-15.
A powerful driving maul put UJ back on the front foot in the Wits 22, and it was not long before MacDonald got over for his second try which earned them the bonus point.
To their credit Wits played hard until the final whistle, but could not add to their tally and are still looking for their first log points this season.
For FNB UJ:
Tries: Haznar, Nel, MacDonald 2
Cons: Schmidt 3
For FNB Wits:
Tries: Fraser, Jonck