There were important wins for FNB UCT, FNB NMMU and FNB Maties in an enthralling penultimate round of matches before the play-offs, leaving the competition wide open heading into the final week of league action.
The Ikey Tigers ran in four tries against FNB UFS-Shimlas to secure their first victory at home on the Green Mile this season and move into second place, just four log points behind pace-setters FNB NWU-Pukke.
The Cape team scored three tries playing into the wind in the first half and then went on to claim the bonus point after half-time as they romped to a 25-5 victory. This result leaves UFS-Shimlas down in sixth place after starting the round in third position.
Torrential rain in the northern part of the country had a big say in the other three matches, as FNB UJ and FNB UP-Tuks slumped to defeats at home, whilst NWU-Pukke were forced to work hard for their victory over FNB Wits in Potchefstroom.
Defending champions UP-Tuks suffered their second consecutive defeat at home, as the Madibaz ground out a crucial 19-9 win which saw them move past the Pretoria side into third place on the standings. It was NMMU’s second big scalp of 2014, having beaten the Maties back in Round One.
UP-Tuks are now level on log points with three-time champions Maties who ended UJ’s hopes of making the semifinals this season with a comfortable 24-8 victory.
Points difference is all that separates Maties and UP-Tuks on the log, which sets up their showdown in Stellenbosch next week perfectly.
NWU-Pukke were able to maintain their position at the top of the standings, but they were made to work hard for their 16-8 win by a determined Wits side that is still looking for their first victory in the competition.
Next week will see the final round of league action take place in the 2014 Varsity Cup – without doubt the most open competition since the inaugural event in 2008.
UFS-Shimlas will take on NMMU, Maties will host UP-Tuks, NWU-Pukke will entertain UJ and UCT will face Wits away on March 17 as just ten points separate the top six teams ahead of the semifinals, with home-ground advantage and play-off qualification on the line.
In the Varsity Shield two-time champions FNB CUT travelled to Alice where they earned a bonus-point 28-18 victory over FNB Fort Hare who are the only team to have beaten them since 2012.
Peter de Villiers’ FNB UWC secured a vital 24-17 win over the FNB TUT Vikings in Pretoria to move up to third place, just one log point behind the second-placed FNB UKZN Impi who had a bye.
The Varsity Young Guns showdown between defending champions UP-Tuks and NWU-Pukke had to be postponed until Wednesday due to the unplayable conditions, whilst in the other match FNB UJ notched a dramatic last-minute 28-24 win over the Steinhoff Maties Juniors.
In the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship UFS champions Steinhoff Heimat scored five tries on their way to a 37-0 demolition of the Steinhoff Purple Cobras in Cape Town to consolidate their spot at the top of the Hi-Fi Corporation pool.
In the Incredible Connection pool Steinhoff Patria from NWU-Pukke edged the Steinhoff Medies Rebels 24-22 in Potchefstroom and the clash between Steinhoff Onderstepoort and Steinhoff Oppidani had to be postponed due to an unplayable pitch in Pretoria.