Maties hold off brave NMMU
NMMU's Stefan Willemse barges into Maties' James Alexander (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Maties will face defending champions UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup final after securing a thrilling 16-15 win over NMMU in an epic semi-final clash at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
Three-time champions Maties were pushed to the very limit by a gutsy Madibaz outfit, who fought back from 0-8 and 13 men down to come within a hair's breadth of reaching their maiden final.
Having opted to play with a gusting wind behind their backs, the Madibaz looked to capitalise on their territorial advantage (65 percent) in the first half. VIDEO: Maties v NMMU, highlights
Maties started strong and came up short twice after NMMU's defence held firm and the visitors managed two turnovers inside their 22.
After the opening 10 minutes it was all the Madibaz, who threatened to score when Dwayne Kelly broke the line from turnover ball before a handling error put paid to the attack.
The visitors enjoyed a healthy period inside Maties’ half and looked to have opened the scoring when their driving maul steamrolled over the try-line, but Maties scrumhalf James Alexander and captain Helmut Lehmann ensured the ball wasn't dotted down.
Maties were forced to defend for the majority of the 15 minutes that followed and finally escaped their half unpunished after some gutsy and disciplined defence.
The same could not be said for the visitors who, after doing well to stop Lehmann short of the line, saw their discipline let them down as they conceded two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
Kelly was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle before flank Stefan Willemse received his marching orders and conceded a penalty try for coming in from the side and collapsing the maul.
JH Potgieter added the conversion and it remained 8-0 at the break.
The 13-man Madibaz showed immense character to not only keep the hosts scoreless but also work their way into Maties' 22 after the interval.
And although they were unable to score, it bought the visitors valuable time and they were soon back to 15 men and boosted by renewed confidence.
The Madibaz dominated possession and they were finally rewarded when replacement loose forward Simphiwe Shabangu went over on the hour mark.
Flyhalf Justin van Staden was unable to level the scores as he missed the difficult conversion, but at 8-5, spectators were in for a tense final quarter.
Maties hit back straight after the second strategy break, pouncing on a loose ball and taking it through the hands quickly, which saw Alexander dive over close to the uprights, allowing Potgieter to stretch the scoreline to 16-5.
The courageous Madibaz were far from finished though and were right back in it when fullback Jarred Buys swooped on a charge down by No 8 Timothy Agaba in goal to score his team’s second try.
Again, the conversion was unsuccessful, meaning the Madibaz would have to score a converted try in the last nine minutes of the match to snatch victory.
The remarkable fight-back continued with the Madibaz keeping ball in hand and with just four minutes left on the clock, hooker Martin Ferreira burrowed over in the left-hand corner.
Left wing Gerhardus Smith was tasked with the touchline conversion and despite striking it well, his kick drifted wide.
The visitors had one last bite at the cherry after being awarded a penalty following an attacking sequence that started from their own goal-line. Replacement Logan Basson stepped up to take the crucial kick but failed to raise the flags, with Maties dotting down to edge into the decider.
Earlier on Monday, Tuks blew UJ away
in their trans-Jukskei semi-final, scoring eight tries on their way to a resounding 61-24 victory in Pretoria.
In Varsity Shield
action, Peter de Villiers's UWC
side qualified for their first-ever final with a 28-12 victory over Fort Hare
They will meet the CUT Ixias
who kept their unbeaten run for the season going with a comfortable 42-20 victory over wooden spoonists TUT
The Bloemfontein side have played in all three Varsity Shield finals, and they will host their second against UWC next week while the TUT Vikings were left to reflect on a disappointing campaign after getting relegated from the Varsity Cup last year.
The final of the Varsity Young Guns
competition will also see Tuks take on Maties after both sides secured home semi-final victories on Monday.
Defending champions Tuks cruised past the UCT Trojans in Pretoria, securing a 68-28 victory, while Maties were made to work a little harder for their 26-15 win against UFS-Shimlas in Stellenbosch.
In the "Koshuisrugby"
championship, defending champions Vishuis from Shimlas will face the unbeaten Villagers from NWU-Pukke in the final after both teams registered home semi-final victories.
Vishuis were pushed all the way by Maties side Medies, but held on well to take a 31-26 win, while Villagers had an easier time of it against UJ's Bastion, cruising to a 39-2 win in Potchefstroom.Scorers:Maties:
Tries: Penalty try, Alexander
Conversions: Potgieter 2 NMMU:
Tries: Buys, Shabangu, Ferreira
Yellow cards: Dwayne Kelly (NMMU, 35 mins), Stefan Willemse (NMMU, 36 mins)Teams:Maties:
15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 JH Potgieter, 9 James Alexander, 8 Reniel Hugo, 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Substitutes: 16 Frederik Kirsten, 17 Hein van der Merwe, 18 Jurie van Vuuren, 19 Beyers de Villiers, 20 Jean Nel, 21 Dean Grant, 22 JP Lewis, 23 Brendan Pitzer.NMMU:
15 Jarred Buys, 14 Mayibuye Ndwandwe, 13 Devon Lailvaux, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Gerhardus Smith, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Mzwanale Zito, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Substitutes: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Dexter Fahey, 18 Louis Fourie, 19 Ulrich Pretorius, 20 Simphiwe Shabangu, 21 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 22 Logan Basson, 23 Lizo Gqoboka.