DAN LOMBARD

FNB UP-Tuks thrashed FNB UJ 61-24 at the Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday 25 March as the defending champions booked their place in the 2013 final.

Tuks put on a clinical display, scoring eight tries and conceding three. “I’ve waited seven games for the boys to play like this,” said head coach Nollis Marais.

Tuks opened the scoring with a penalty try as UJ were penalised for entering a driving maul from the side. UJ responded by scoring a try through wing Chrysander Botha, leveling the score on 8-8.

Tuks scored three more tries before the first strategy break. Captain Jono Ross scored off a driving maul, a play that Tuks have used well this year. Handre Pollard added to his two earlier conversions by converting Ross’s try.

Soon afterwards, Pollard and Mike Williams scored a try each. Pollard was on target with both conversions, giving Tuks a 32-8 lead.

Tuks withstood pressure from UJ after the first strategy break with full-back Clayton Blommetjies and fly-half Willie du Plessis scoring in quick succession. Pollard added the conversions to give Tuks a 48-8 half-time lead.

UJ scored first in the second half as a well-worked team effort allowed scrum-half Jacques Pretorius to score under the posts. Full-back Kobus de Kock converted the try.

Tuks prevented a UJ comeback as another burst of scoring saw wing Courtnall Skosan and Du Plessis crossing the try line. Pollard missed the conversion attempt on Skosan’s try but converted Du Plessis’s.

UJ replacement scrum-half Vian van der Watt pounced on a loose ball to score a converted try. Tuks then almost scored through wing Vainon Willis after centre Piet Lindeque exploited a gap but the winger was judged to have stepped on the touchline by the TMO (television match official). Tuks won the match 61-24.

In the other semi-final, FNB Maties also beat FNB NMMU 16-15 in a tense match at the Danie Craven Stadium.

Both teams looked dangerous and attacked regularly. Maties and NMMU missed scoring opportunities but Maties scored first through a penalty try as NMMU flank Stefan Willemse was given a yellow card for a professional foul. NMMU found themselves down to 13 men as scrum-half Dwayne Kelly was also given a yellow card for a tip tackle moments earlier. The score remained 8-0 until half-time.

NMMU dominated possession and did not concede points while reduced to 13 men. Replacement loose-forward Simphiwe Shabangu scored for NMMU but fly-half Justin van Staden did not convert the try.

Maties took advantage of a turn-over ball and were able to move the ball quickly to score another try, which fly-half JH Potgieter converted.

Full-back Jarred Buys and hooker Martin Ferreira both scored for NMMU but neither tries were converted, making the score 16-15.

In the last minute of the game, NMMU were given a penalty but replacement Logan Basson missed the attempt. Maties won 16-15.

Tuks will travel to Stellenbosch to face Maties in the Varsity Cup final on 8 April.

Photos: Kobus Barnard and Reinhard Nell

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