FNB UP-Tuks beat FNB Maties 44-5 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch last Monday to win Tuks’ second Varsity Cup trophy in a row.
The 39-point victory broke the Varsity Cup record as the highest points difference in a final.
By winning the final, Tuks handed Maties their first loss of the season. They outscored the home side five tries to one. Tuks went into the final having lost three matches in this season’s Varsity Cup, including an 18-16 loss to Maties in Pretoria.
Both sides played at a frantic pace during the opening stages of the game. Maties started off as the stronger team, but some strong defence from Tuks prevented them from scoring.
The game’s first points came after 15 minutes when Tuks scrum-half Danie Faasen went over the try line. Faasen’s try came courtesy of sustained pressure from the strong Tuks forward pack. Fly-half Willie du Plessis scored a try shortly afterwards as Tuks continued putting pressure on Maties. Centre Handre Pollard successfully converted both tries.
Maties struggled in the lineouts and could not get forward momentum. A failed Maties lineout almost gave Tuks wing Vainon Willis a try but good defence from Maties forced him into touch. Soon afterwards, Tuks captain Jono Ross spun out of a tackle to score close to the poles. Pollard converted the try to allow Tuks to go into the break with a 24-0 lead.
Tuks continued applying pressure on Maties after the start of the second half. The Tuks players efficiently used quick ruck balls to enable them to play running rugby. Wing Courtnall Skosan forced his way over the try line to score Tuks’ fourth try. Pollard added the conversion to extend the lead to 32-0.
Maties managed to reduce the deficit when wing Clearance Khumalo scored in the corner after a sustained period of possession from Maties. Fly-half JH Potgieter failed to convert the try.
Maties defended well in the final 20 minutes of the game to limit Tuks’ try-scoring opportunities. Pollard was able to convert a penalty in the 59th minute. Tuks full-back Clayton Blommetjies was successful with his drop goal attempt after a fumbled pass. The drop goal increased the lead to 36-5 with nine minutes to play.
In the final minutes of the match, Willis intercepted a wayward Maties pass to score untouched under the poles. Pollard added to his 100% kicking record when he converted Tuks’ fifth try.
Head coach Nollis Marais told Perdeby that he is proud of his team. “Consistency was something we lacked during the season but the boys pulled through in the play-offs. I’m proud of the character shown by the players,” he said.
Photos: Gallo Images