Tukkies took the Varsity Cup north of the Stellenbosch winelands for the first time ever via a hard-fought 29-21 victory over Maties the final played at the Tuks Rugby Stadium in Pretoria on Monday.
Last year’s runners-up produced a stirring second-half performance to pull away from the three-time champions who suffered their first Varsity Cup Final defeat.
Tuks making good use of the high ball and the driving maul as they piled the pressure on the visiting team in the opening exchanges. And after forcing the Maties onto the back foot with their powerful forward pack the home side sent it wide for a Jerome Pretorius try, much to the delight of the 15 000-strong crowd.
The teams went into the half-time break deadlocked at 13-13 which was an accurate reflection of an intense 40 minutes which saw both teams produce some quality rugby.
The home side started the second half with a bang when Lohan Jacobs got over for a superb team try that left Maties chasing the game. And basically they chased unsuccessfully for the next 40 minutes …
The brutal battle continued with Maties using their dominant line-out as an attacking platform, but they could not find a way through and Tuks were still 21-13 ahead at the second strategy break.
Tuks lead 29-13 with 15 minutes left on the clock and Maties threw everything they had at their hosts in the final stages but Tuks managed to absorb the pressure, and despite a late consolation try to the Maties, they held on for a famous victory.
Tries: Pretorius, Short, Jacobs, Mostert
Cons: Dunlop 3
Tries: Smith, Kloppers, Van der Merwe
Cons: Stevens, Kemp
Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Dabeon Draghoender, 11 Hayden Groepes, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Lohan Jacobs, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Okkie Kruger, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Zane Botha (captain), 1 Sabelo Nhlapo.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Sthembiso Mlongo, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Basil Short.
Maties: 15 André Smith, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Wessel Coetzee, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 André Kemp, 9 Donald Stevens, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 6 Sam Mabombo, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Reniel Hugo, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Alfred Ries, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 JP Swanepoel, 19 Nicholas de Jager, 20 Boela Abrahams, 21 Jarryd Buys, 22 Clearance Khumalo, 23 Hein van der Merwe.
Referee: Rasta Rashivenga
Earlier in the day, in what what should obviously have been the main curtain raiser to the final, rather than the Koshuis muck, UCT secured their place in the Varsity Cup next year by scoring nine tries on their way to a 60-21 victory over Varsity Shield runners-up CUT.
The Ikeys looked a little flat to start with, but were stunned into action via an early CUT try by Noel Marx, and after that were rampant, running in six tries in the first half to cruise past the team from Bloemfontein who battled to keep up.
Any thoughts of a tight game dominated by defence were banished when UCT added two tries in a matter of minutes to take firm control of the game after just 15 minutes.
CUT gathered themselves at the first strategy break and managed to hold on to the ball and put UCT under pressure in their own half by crossing the gainline fairly regularly.
The game slowed down considerably in the second half as the pace of the first 40 minutes caught up with both sides who started making more unforced errors, and it was CUT who managed to pin UCT back as they applied more pressure, but they were battling to make their dominance count on the scoreboard.
Last year’s Varsity Cup champions brought up their half-century and ran out easy winners, sending out a few warning bells to Wits, who will have to contend with the likes of the Ikeys every Monday next year. The Joburg boys might struggle to cross the obvious divide between the two leagues initially …
Tries: Mhlanga, Annandale, Pretorius
Cons: Myburgh 2
Tries: Odendaal 3, Slatem, Winter 2, Chetty, De Allende, Leyds
Cons: Holton 5
CUT: 15 Noel Marx, 14 Alec Mhlanga, 13 Maphelo Mpondo, 12 Leon Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jannie Myburgh, 9 Inus Kritzinger (captain), 8 Juan Hugo, 7 Moekoa Bolofo, 6 Francois Harvey, 5 Gavin Annandale, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Petri Coetzee, 2 Baksteen van Heerden, 1 Rudi Britz.
Replacements: 16 Deon Gouws, 17 Rudie Fuls, 18 Darius Viljoen, 19 Shaun McGeer, 20 Nico Steenkamp, 21 Gerrit Smith, 22 Russel van Wyk, 23 Danie van der Merwe.
UCT: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Adrian Kritzinger, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Nick Holton, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Don Armand, 6 Ntsolo Setlaba (captain), 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 Brad Bosman, 3 Francois van Wyk, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Wes Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Dayne Jans, 17 Digby Webb, 18 James Kilroe, 19 James Tatham, 20 Rick Schroeder, 21 Michael Morris, 22 Richard Stewart, 23 Mini Bhengu.
Referee: Lesego ‘Pro’ Legoete