CUT Varsity Shield champions
Johannesburg - FNB CUT became the first team to lift the Varsity Shield when they overcame FNB Wits 25-18 in a tense final in Johannesburg on Monday night.
The Men from Bloemfontein struck the first blow when they created some space on the outside and right-wing Alec Mhlanga cantered over unopposed for a try after just three minutes.
Wits managed a try of their own after captain David Turnbull pounced on a handling error by his opposite number Inus Kritzinger. The scrumhalf made the break and off-loaded to his flyhalf Greg Blom who sent it wide to lock Charles Baggott who got over in the corner.
However, Turnbull turned from hero to villain when he threw an intercept pass on his tryline and CUT outside centre Jaco Oosthuizen could hardly believe his luck as he dotted down for the try.
That was just before half-time and CUT took a commanding 20-11 lead into the break.
Wits came out after half-time and played with real purpose, spending some quality time in the CUT 22 but they could not convert the pressure into points as the rain began to fall.
They were finally rewarded when left-wing Riaan Arends fielded a loose clearance kick and went on a great jinking run, turning on the pace and scoring in the right corner. When centre Brendan Lizamore converted from the touchline it was anyone's game at 20-18 to CUT.
However, the visitors were next to score when Man of the Match Mhlanga got over in the corner for his second try after some good handling from his teammates which made it 25-18.
And they managed to hold on in a tense last ten minutes to lift the Shield and set up a promotion/relegation play-off match with the FNB TUT Vikings next Monday as one of two curtain-raisers to the Varsity Cup Final between Tuks and UCT in Pretoria.
For FNB Wits:
Tries: Baggott, Arends
Pens: Lizamore 2
For FNB CUT:
Tries: Mhlanga 2, Oosthuizen
Cons: Le Roux 2
Pens: Le Roux 2
Wits: 15 Sean Manton, 14 Nkuli Gamede, 13 Brendan Lizamore, 12 Heinke Hartdegen, 11 Riaan Arends, 10 Greg Blom, 9 David Turnbull (captain), 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Devin Montgomery, 6 Ryan Odendaal, 5 Charles Baggott, 4 Ernest van Niekerk, 3 Paulo Ferreira, 2 Rory Anderson, 1 Katlego Kgame.
Replacements: 16 Tyrell Tintinger, 17 Brendan Whyte, 18 Katlego Ntsie, 19 Brent Crossley, 20 Clayton Redford, 21 Emmanual Mphande, 22 Rudolf Prinsloo, 23 Clayton Allem.
CUT: 15 Andre le Roux, 14 Alec Mhlanga, 13 Jaco Oosthuizen, 12 Maphelo Mpondo, 11 Nhlanganiso Sibanda, 10 Egan Gysman, 9 Inus Kritzinger (captain), 8 Juan Hugo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Francois Harvey, 5 Gavin Annadale, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Werner Pretorius, 2 Deon Gouws, 1 Rudi Britz.
Replacements: 16 Trevor Nyakane, 17 Rudi Fuls, 18 Anton Smit, 19 Frans Sisita, 20 Noel Marx, 21 Leon Pretorius, 22 Frederick Badenhorst, 23 Petri Coetzee.
Referee: Gerrie de Bruin
Assistant referees: Pieter de Villiers, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johann Meuwesen