FNB UFS-Shimlas proved that experience means nothing in the FNB Varsity Cup as they beat FNB UP-Tuks 19-17 at a cold and wet Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday evening.
Rugby fans throughout South Africa may have been excited for the start of the 2018 FNB Varsity Cup but it would appear as if the weather did not receive the memo as thunderstorms drowned out the noise made by the lively crowd in Pretoria.
As expected, both teams tightened up their approach as they looked to open their account. FNB UP-Tuks wing Dewald Naude thought his try from a collected cross kick was good but it was denied by the referee as he was deemed to be in front the ball.
FNB UP-Tuks flyhalf Tinus de Beer made no mistake in the 18th minute as his pinpoint kick landed straight into the hands of wing Xolisa Guma who merely dotted the ball down for the opening try of the season.
FNB UFS-Shimlas struck back soon after the first strategy break as wing Gideon Agenbag stormed down the touchline to score a seven point try. Flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela was on hand to convert the try.
The score remained the same until the break despite FNB UP-Tuks running full tilt at the men from Bloemfontein but their efforts went a begging as FNB UFS-Shimlas dug in their stubborn heels on defence.
FNB UFS-Shimlas used the first half to establish themselves as 11 players in their match day squad made their FNB Varsity Cup debuts against the defending champions but it was in the second half where they truly shone.
The visitors extended their lead within five minutes of the restart as flank Benjamin Janse van Vuuren crashed over in the corner for a converted try as the teams continued to struggle in the wet conditions.
It may have been Dobela’s FNB Varsity Cup debut but he controlled the match at flyhalf like a seasoned veteran while landing a penalty goal in the 51st minute.
The defending champions took too long to adapt their game plan to match the tenacity of FNB UFS-Shimlas despite a try to inside centre Toko Seerane after the visitors’ lost replacement prop Joseph Botha to a yellow card.
Captain and loose forward, Denzel Hill, scored a consolation try for the home team but it was not enough as De Beer knocked over his first kick of the match.
FNB UP-Tuks will rue lost opportunities and failing to land conversions as the University of Pretoria lost to the University of the Free State 19-17.
FNB Player that Rocks: Lubabalo Dobela (FNB UFS-Shimlas)
FNB UP-Tuks: 17
Tries: Xolisa Guma, Toko Seerane, Denzel Hill
Cons: Tinus de Beer
FNB UFS-Shimlas: 19
Tries: Francois Agenbag (seven point), Benjamin Janse van Vuuren
Cons: Lubabalo Dobela (2)
Yellow card: Joseph Botha
FNB NWU managed to pull off a deserved victory in their season opener at the Fanie du Toit Sportsgrounds. After dominating both halves, they beat FNB CUT 70 -7.
FNB NWU won the toss and hit the ground running, with Walt Steenkamp opening the scoring within the first two minutes of the game. Schalk Hugo converted successfully, putting FNB NWU ahead 7-0.
After spending the first ten minutes in FNB CUT’s half, Dean Gordon took advantage of an overlap and managed to score in the corner for FNB NWU. Schalk Hugo once again converted successfully, with the FNB NWU now 14-0 ahead.
Estehan Visagie scored for the FNB NWU, with Schalk Hugo converting the try and putting FNB NWU 21-0 after 25 minutes of play.
FNB CUT had an opportunity to get some points on the board after being awarded a penalty, but Heinrich Bitzi was unable to convert, leaving the score at 21-0. FNB NWU managed to get even further ahead after Schalk Hugo converted a penalty and put his team ahead 24-0 with 6 minutes still to play in the first half.
On the cusp of half time, Tiaan Erasmus managed to drive over the line and score for FNB CUT, with Heinrich Bitzi managing the conversion. This meant that FNB CUT were going into the second half with only a 17-point deficit.
To get the second half started, Dean Gordon scored the first seven-point try of the match after a brilliant crosskick from Schalk Hugo, who also managed to convert the try. Tapiwa Mafura’s great show of pace put the FNB NWU even further ahead after he scored in the corner. Schalk Hugo missed his first conversion of the game, but FNB NWU were still 40-7 ahead.
Gideon van der Merwe put FNB NWU even further ahead after 51 minutes of play, once again scoring in the corner. Schalk Hugo was unable to convert but FNB NWU still maintained a hefty lead.
After 54 minutes FNB NWU decided to use their powerplay, choosing to send off Duncan van Vuuren and Ruben Heymans. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalise from the three minutes of only thirteen men on the field for FNB CUT, with the score remaining 45-7 after 57 minutes of play.
After 61 minutes FNB CUT used their powerplay, sending Evardi Boshoff and Akhona Nela off for three minutes. This proved to be futile as Estehan Visagie scored his second try of the match for FNB NWU. Schalk Hugo managed the conversion, putting FNB NWU ahead 54-7.
Hendrik Marais scored a runaway try from inside his own half, giving FNB NWU their third seven-point try of the game. Schalk Hugo converted successfully with the score at 63-7 with 10 minutes still to play.
Just before the final whistle Evardi Boshoff got his first try and FNB NWU’s ninth, with Schalk Hugo nailing his last conversion and FNB NWU winning the game 70-7.
For all his efforts and his two tries scored, Estehan Visagie from FNB NWU was named the FNB Player That Rocks.
FNB NWU: 70
Tries: Walt Steenkamp (1), Dean Gordon (2), Estehan Visagie (2), Tapiwa Mafura (1), Gideon van der Merwe (1), Hendrik Marais (1), Evardi Boshoff (1)
Cons: Schalk Hugo (7)
Pens: Schalk Hugo (1)
FNB CUT: 7
Try: Tiaan Erasmus (1)
Con: Heinrich Bitzi (1)
FNB Wits scored two late tries to claim a vital 30-26 away win against FNB UCT in Cape Town in the first round of the FNB Varsity Cup on Monday evening.
FNB UCT brandished some early physicality which seemed to bewilder the visitors with FNB Ikeys looking ripe to score before a strong defensive effort from FNB Wits. The Visitors turned the ball over and sent it wide to their speedster Kasande Kapepula who ran from his own half to score in the corner and claim a seven-point try. FNB Wits flyhalf Christian Humphries converted, making the score 9-0 to the men from Jozi.
FNB Wits kept the home side under sustained pressure and looked as though they were going to score again but the Cape Town boys were able to steal the ball after some nuggety work from the loose forwards, swing the ball wide to FNB UCT number 10 Gresham Hock who cleared for touch.
FNB UCT used their forwards to drive up the field and won a penalty at the breakdown. They used the opportunity to kick for touch. After an expertly taken line-out and strong drive, number eight Nyasha Tarusenga scored next to the touchline.
FNB Wits went into the first strategy break 9-7 points up with home side on their heels.
FNB Wits looked to consolidate their lead just before the halftime whistle after a strong drive from their forwards on the FNB UCT line but was thwarted by another a resolute effort from FNB UCT defence.
FNB UCT turned the tides on their opposition and after winning another penalty, it was déjà vu as they pushed towards the line, but as the home side crossed the line, they were held up by FNB Wits. After another scrum FNB Wits were penalised at the scrum on the five-line and FNB UCT were awarded a penalty try, going into the break 14-9 up.
FNB Wits claimed back the lead after a strong forward drive that saw Captain Fantastic Constant Beckerling crash over for a five-point try with Humphries converting, making the score 16-14 to the visitors.
FNB UCT called the Power Play and were unable to score. But used the momentum to dot down just after with the full-back Martin crossing over which left the score before the second strategy break at 23-16.
FNB UCT put the final nail in FNB Wits’ coffin after the home side were awarded a penalty just outside the FNB Wits 22 metre with Martin continuing his good form with the radar and got his side the three-pointer.
FNB Wits weren’t dead yet though and set up a forward drive five metres from the FNB UCT line. After some ferocious running from the Jo’burgers replacement prop Chris Hume barged over with Humphries adding the extras.
FNB Wits were clearly revitalised by their score. FNB UCT kicked down the throat of the wily winger Kapepula, who showed some fancy footwork once again before giving it inside to AJ van Blerk who dove over making the score 30-26.
The home side put in a strong performance in their first fixture but were unable to thwart a spirited and cohesive FNB Wits side with Kapepula picking up Man of the Match.
FNB Player That Rocks: Kasande Kapepula (FNB Wits)
FNB UCT: 26
Tries: Nyasha Tarusenga, penalty try, Brian Martin
Cons: Brian Martin 2
Pens: Brian Martin
FNB Wits: 30
Tries: Kasande Kapepula, Constant Beckerling, Chris Hume, AJ van Blerk
Cons: Christian Humphries 2