UP-Tuks has set up a intense finals clash with the University of Stellenbosch (Maties) after they defeated the University of the Free State (UFS-Shimlas) by 28 points to 21 in a tightly contested semi-final on Monday night at the Tuks Stadium.

As proceedings got underway, the Shimlas were the early aggressors as they tested the UP-Tuks defence. The visitors, however, were not able to capitalise on their early dominance within the first ten minutes. Despite the strong start by the Shimlas, it was UP-Tuks that registered the first points of the night. In the 12th minute, fly-half Tinus de Beer managed to penetrate the Shimlas’ defence, creating an overlap for winger Sibahle Maxwane to exploit, which ultimately led to him scoring the first try of the night. De Beer converted Maxwane’s try to put Tuks 7-0 ahead.

As the half progressed, UP-Tuks began to find their feet and assert some authority on the game. In the 25th minute, some brilliant link-up play by the UP-Tuks backline saw Maxwane score his second try of the match and earn his side a nine-point try, which was converted by De Beer. UP-Tuks further consolidated their lead when captain Andre Warner collected the ball from a stray lineout throw, subsequently creating a passage of play between himself and Cylde Davids, which saw Warner dot down for UP-Tuks’ third try of the night. The Shimlas managed to finally open their account in the match when an interception from Dian Badenhorst saw him run almost the full length of the pitch, subsequently instigating a spell of attacking rugby, whereby flanker Phumzile Maqondwana crossed the try line for the Shimlas’ first try of the night, with Mason Marco converting successfully. The score line went into the halftime break at 23-9.

In the second half, the Shimlas began to show their resilience as they began to claw back the advantage that UP-Tuks had attained in the first half. In the 46th minute, a try from hooker Hanno Snyman, which was subsequently converted by Mason Marco, reduced Tuks’ lead to seven points (23-16). The Shimlas continued to apply pressure on the Tuks defence and in the 57th minute they were rewarded for their efforts when Neil Claassen crossed the try line to put the Shimlas only two points behind UP-Tuks (23-21), with Marco failing to make the conversion on this occasion. An intense passage of play followed where both teams went in search for the try that would ultimately decide the outcome of the game. In the 71st minute, Corniel Els dotted down a try to extend UP-Tuks’ lead to 28 point to 21, which was the final score.

Scrumhalf and captain of UP-Tuks, Andre Warner, was satisfied that the team was able to get the victory despite tough opposition from the Shimlas. “We didn’t have our best game, but we still got the result, semi-final rugby is all about the win, we got it tonight so we [are] very happy. Shimlas brought it, they played a good game [and] they played well of our mistakes”, said Warner.

UP-Tuks will host the formidable opponents that are Maties in the final of the 2017 Varsity Cup on 17 April at the Tuks Stadium. Warner emphasised that keeping things simple will be important with their encounter against Maties.


Image provided.

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