KEVIN VAN DER LIST

Tuks is pleased with the start to their 2012 Varsity Cup campaign as they beat UJ 23-8 at the TuksRugby stadium on 6 February.

UJ went into the opening clash between last year’s semi-finalists as firm favourites to seal a victory. “UJ were the favourites, so a win in the first game was vital for us,” said Tuks fly-half Wesley Dunlop.

The match lacked continuity at times and it was riddled with a few too many mistakes from both sides which took their toll on the score board. However, despite the slow-paced game, Tuks dominated possession and territory and won the game with three tries to one. Tuks capitalised on its few scoring opportunities and defended well as a unit against the UJ side who could not get onto the score board in the first half. The game got off to a good start when Tuks scored the first try in only the 3rd minute of the game, courtesy of Hayden Groepes. Wesley Dunlop then extended his team’s lead with a further two points, courtesy of a penalty in the 8th minute. The next points in the game came in the 38th minute when Franco Mostert crossed the line to put the home side in a strong position at the end of the first half.

The second half yielded early points for Tuks when Tuks captain Jono Ross went over the line in the 45th minute to extend the lead to 23-0. From this point on it was tough to see a way out for UJ as Tuks’s defence was still strong. However, UJ managed to pierce the Tuks defensive line in the 60th minute courtesy of a JR Esterhuizen try. Thereafter, UJ failed to capitalise on the yellow card Tuks’s Riaan Britz received 70 minutes into the game.

A new points system was implemented by Varsity Cup organisers to encourage players to play a more aggressive and running game. Five points will still be awarded for a try while a successful penalty and drop goal will result in two points and a conversion in three points. Dunlop said that the system has definitely worked as teams are now compelled to score tries rather than to go for posts.

The man of the match was awarded to Tuks’s Mike Williams.

“The mood will definitely be positive going into next week’s game,” said Dunlop. Tuks will face TUT on 13 February at the TUT rugby ground in their second encounter in the Varsity Cup.

Photos: Marius Veldhuyzen van Zanten

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