The Stellenbosch based Maties won their top-of-the-log Varsity Cup battle with Tuks last night, whilst the Ikeys suffered a dramatic last-gasp loss at the hands of the Madibaz in Port Elizabeth.
Maties, gunning for a fourth Varsity Cup title after not even making the semifinals last year, claimed a 23-22 win over Tuks in a hard-fought Round Four encounter at the Danie Craven Stadium.
The score was tied at 10-10 as both sides scored a try each in the first half, but the Maties managed to keep their noses in front – winning the try tally three-two in the end and keeping their unbeaten record in the process.
The lead changed hands on numerous occasions, but a second-half yellow card to Tuks’ Deon Helberg (for a high tackle) proved costly, with tries by lock Grant Hattingh and replacement prop Hein van der Merwe proving the difference in the final analysis.
Tuks hit back through a late Clayton Blommetjies try, with flyhalf Wesley Dunlop slotting the touchline conversion to make it a one-point game, but time was against the visitors as the Men in Maroon held out for their fourth win in a row.
That leaves the Maties in first place on the log, followed by Tuks and UJ – separated by points’ difference only – Pukke, NMMU, UCT, Shimlas and the TUT Vikings.
UJ, meanwhile, were in no mood for charity as they romped to a convincing 50-18 win over Shimlas – condemning the Kovsies to a third successive defeat.
Down in PE there was plenty of drama as the Madibaz notched up a 23-21 win over the Ikey Tigers with the last kick of the game.
The Ikeys were playing catch-up rugby for most of the mistake and penalty filled game – despite drawing level at 13-13 at half-time – and they again managed to draw level at 21-21 shortly before the full-time whistle. However, UCT were trapped in their own half and penalised, allowing replacement back Bradley Kretzman a long-range effort at goal for the win, which he achieved – by bouncing the ball on the crossbar!
It meant a stunning first-ever Varsity Cup – and Monte Taljaard Trophy Match – victory for NMMU, and UCT now cannot afford to lose another game in a bid for semifinal qualification.
Pukke racked up a half-century of points – beating TUT by 52-8 in Potchefstroom. Captain Joubert Engelbrecht scored a hat-trick of tries for the hosts, whilst the Vikings celebrated their first try of the season; a minor high point for the Wooden Spoonists.
* Meanwhile CUT suffered another loss – going down 16-20 to Wits in Johannesburg. In other Shield action, Fort Hare caused a big surprise by beating UWC on their own turf – winning 23-21. Wits have now replaced UWC at the top of the Varsity Shield log.