KEVIN VAN DER LIST
On 19 March Tuks made history by beating Varsity Cup holders UCT 29-18 in the last round-robin game of the Varsity Cup held at UCT.
Tuks went into the game as the underdogs, having never before beaten the men from Cape Town in the Varsity Cup’s five year history.
The unprecedented win, bonus point try and Maties’s draw against UJ, ensured that Tuks finished on top of the log, securing a home semi-final tonight.
Although Tuks looked like the comfortable victors in the game against Ikeys, there were many nervous moments for the Pretoria side. Ikeys drew first blood when fullback Dillyn Leyds’s dummy pass got him over the line. The try was converted by Nick Holton to take the home side to 8-0. Ikeys dominated the opening minutes while Tuks struggled to get in the game.
In the 29th minute, Hayden Groepes scored Tuks’s opening try. Willie du Plessis converted successfully. Ikeys bounced back with a well worked try by Damian de Allende with a conversion by Nick Holton. The first half ended 16-8 to the home side.
A yellow card followed by a penalty resulted in Holton extending Ikeys’s score to 18-8.
With twenty minutes to play, all seemed lost for Tuks. They were unable to score off their superior possession and they failed to take 18 kickable points at goal as opposed to Ikeys’s two points.
Deon Helberg went over the line for Tuks in the 70th minute, for what seemed like a consolation try.
With five minutes remaining, Ikeys’s Levi Odendaal was sent to the sin bin. Tuks made this one man advantage count when Wiaan Liebenberg scored and Willie du Plessis converted to take the score to 24-18. To rub salt in Ikeys’s wounds, Sthembiso Mlongo scored for Tuks in the 80th minute securing Tuks a bonus point.
Tuks will relish the momentum from this win and will look to secure their second consecutive Varsity Cup final match on when they face NWU Pukke tonight. Tuks 1 coach Nollis Marais will seek to motivate his troops going into the semi-final. “My biggest challenge this week will therefore be to make every player understand that our incredible journey will come to nothing if we take anything for granted. Yes, we have beat Pukke in the group phase, but that is water under the bridge. I do not doubt for a moment that we can beat them again, but to accomplish this we will have to improve dramatically on our performances aganst Shimlas, NMMU and Ikeys,” he said on the TuksRugby website.
The semi-finals take place a week after it was revealed that several Varsity Cup teams were found guilty of fielding ineligible players. Shimlas and NMMU were the ones at fault in the senior Varsity Cup competition while Tuks was found guilty of fielding ineligible players in the u20 Young Guns competition. Varsity Cup Managing Director, Duitser Bosman, told the Varsity Cup website that there were some changes made to the competition rules and that this was not a case of teams cheating but rather an unfortunate “administrative oversight”. The teams found guilty were let off with warnings. Tuks take on NWU Pukke in their semi-final tonight at 19:30 at the TuksRugby Stadium, while Maties and UJ will face off in the other semi-final match at 17:30.
Photo: Jaco Joubert