Ikeys dominate, Pukke scrape through

Potchefstroom will host it’s first Varsity Cup final after both Pukke and Ikeys secured semifinal victories over NMMU and Maties on Monday night.

Pukke, who topped the standings after losing just one game all season, left it late to edge a valiant NMMU side in a pulsating play-off that was in the balance until the final whistle.

They will face an impressive Ikey Tigers side that handed old rivals Maties a 20-8 defeat in very wet and windy conditions on the Green Mile in Cape Town.

The Cape derby was scoreless at half-time, but the supremacy of the Ikeys pack told in the second half as they did the season double over Maties to qualify for their first final since they took the title back in 2011.

The home side were playing with the wind at their backs after half-time and they made it count as they raced out to a 20-0 lead, with Maties’ late consolation try not enough to see the three-time champions through to a sixth final.

While at a packed Potch stadium, Pukke were almost denied that final by a valiant Madibaz side who took the lead for the first time in the match with ten minutes left on the clock, before Pukke replacement Rhyno Smith stepped up to slot a late penalty which sealed a tight 19-18 win, sending the packed crowd into raptures.

It was NMMU’s second consecutive one-point semifinal defeat, with Maties denying them by the same margin in Stellenbosch last year, and they will be left to consider what might have been …

The hosts had taken control of the game early on with two tries in the first ten minutes, but then seemed to go into their shells, opting to protect the lead rather than play some rugby. And the Madibaz took advantage … Fighting back to eventually take the lead through a Jarryd Buys drop-goal, only to have their hearts broken at the death.

This means that the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds in Potchefstroom will host its first-ever final on April 7 when the two form teams in the tournament will do battle.

In the Varsity Shield UKZN set up a replay with CUT in the final in Bloemfontein next week, after they handed the two-time champions a 39-21 defeat in Pietermaritzburg. The bonus-point victory sent the KwaZulu-Natal side through to their first-ever final which means that they have a chance of qualifying for promotion to the Varsity Cup.

That result ended Fort Hare’s hopes of reaching the final, as although the Eastern Cape side beat TUT 38-36 in Alice, it was not enough to overhaul the Impi.

Next week will also see the Young Guns final between two-time champions Tuks and Shimlas, who saw off the challenges of Maties and UJ respectively. Tuks are yet to lose a single game in the three seasons that the competition has been running, and thus have to be favourites on home soil against a Free State side that handed UJ their first defeat of the season.

The scores and scorers:

UCT 20-8 Maties

For UCT:

Tries: Xoli, Botha

Cons: Grant 2

Pens: Grant 2

For Maties:

Try: Nel

Con: Du Preez

Yellow cards: Richard Stewart (UCT, 29 mins – repeated infringements) Liam Slatem (UCT, 71 mins – dangerous tackle)


Pukke 19-18 NMMU

For Pukke:

Tries: Welgemoed, Obi

Con: Engelbrecht

Pens: Engelbrecht 2, Smith


Tries: Cloete, Adams

Cons: Hauptfleisch 2

DG: Buys

Yellow card: Armand van der Merwe (NWU-Pukke, 28 mins – repeated infringements)