photo by Brad Donald

KATLEGO PHEEHA

Tuks beat NWU-Pukke 53-24 Varsity Cup semi-final at TuksRugby Stadium on 26 March. The win means Tuks will now host Maties in the Varsity Cup final at TuksRugby Stadium on 9 April. Tuks had star players Wesley Dunlop and Clayton Blommetjies back after the pair had spent some time with the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup, but were still without captain Jono Ross. The match started off with both teams keen to score, but it was Tuks that first put points on the board when Dunlop broke the line after some good build up play, making a well-time outside pass to Blommetjies who scored a try in the corner. Dunlop missed the conversion and the hosts took a 5-0 lead. Pukke looked very threatening with ball in hand, going through the phases and patiently making progress. Finally the pressure told and Pukke fullback SW Oosthuizen broke free and sprinted over the try line. Gerhard Nortier converted the try to give Pukke a 8-5 lead. A Few minutes later, Juan Pretorius made a good run to power past the Tuks defence for a try. Nortier converted the easy kick and Tuks found themselves trailing 16-5. The events of the half however were not over and Tuks had a lineout on the Pukke 5 metre line. The lineout was clinically taken, and a good rolling maul saw flanker Jacques Verwey go over the line after the buzzer had already sounded. The stadium was dead silent as Dunlop lined up his kick, and the Tuks fly-half made no mistake, sending the teams into halftime with the scores 16-13 in favour of Pukke. The second half started with both teams carrying on from where they ended. Pukke played good possession game, but it was the hosts that eventually got the breakthrough when they capitalised on yet another good lineout, leading to Clayton Blommetjies’ second try of the game. Dunlop made the conversion once again and Tuks took a 21-16 lead with 46 minutes gone. Pukke however could not be supressed and 3 minutes later Andrew van Wyk showed great individual skill with a kick over the Tuks defenders, which he chased down himself and scored a good try to tie the scores at 21 apiece. Nortier gave the visitors the lead when he added the points with his conversion. Tuks soon had their supporters cheering once more when a good run of play opened up an opportunity for left-winger Hayden Groepes to score in the corner. Dunlop converted meant Tuks took a 29-24 lead. The momentum was now with Tuks and they made it count, as Dabeon Draghoender powered through the defence to score Tuks’ fifth try of the handing them a commanding 37-24 lead Tuks, however was not done yet, and they capitalised on the tired Pukke defence as winger Deon Helberg scored giving Tuks a 45-24 lead with a few minutes left to play. Tuks eventually scored a final try to take their lead to 53-24 at full time to send them into their second consecutive Varsity Cup home final. “Normally in these games it’s a close game before halftime, and the team that can stick to their structures the wall will break for them.” Tuks captain Zane Botha told Perdeby after the game. Tuks will face Maties on 9 April in the final. Maties is the only team to have beaten Tuks this season and go into the final off the back of a great semi-final performance, beating UJ 23-0 at Stellenbosch. “You take it game by game. They beat us over there [Stellenbosch] by one point, but we’re keen to smash them when they come here for the final. Obviously there will be a bit of pressure, but we are rugby players and we’ve got to absorb that pressure and perform. I think it’s going to be an exciting final” Wesley Dunlop told Perdeby. Tuks will be looking for their first Varsity Cup title, having lost the final to Ikeys in 2011. Make sure you get down to TuksRugby Stadium on 9 April to back your “boytjies” in the final. Cover photo: Kobus Barnard

photo by Brad Donald

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