Stellenbosch - The Maties left it late to snatch a 26-26 draw with NWU-Pukke in Round Two of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Maties trailed by eight points in the dying minutes of the game before securing their second consecutive draw with a 78th minute try to set up an exciting end to the game.
Pukke got off to the perfect start when scrumhalf Dillon Smit crossed the try line after an exceptional display of offloading from Pukke as they tore through the heart of Maties’ defence.
Rhyno Smith made no mistake with the conversion to hand the visitors an 8-0 lead after two minutes.
There was no stopping Pukke as they got a rolling maul to rumble from a 5 metre line-out in the fifth minute, which forced Ernst Stapelberg to enter from the side and left the referee with no choice but to award a penalty try, which Smith converted, to hand the visitors a 16-0 lead after six minutes.
Stapelberg was duly sent to the bin for the infringement.
The loss of their flyhalf had no effect on the home side as they found themselves with an attacking line-out on Pukke’s five metre line.
The maul was set and they rumbled their way over the try line which saw Kobus van Dyk emerge with the ball.
Loubser converted the try to reduce Pukke’s lead to 16-8 after 11 minutes.
It was deja vu two minutes later when another five metre attacking line-out resulted in a maul which saw Maties rumble their way over the try line. Captain Beyers de Villiers emerged with the ball, however, the try went unconverted as Maties reduced the deficit to three points.
The 28th minute saw Pukke being reduced to 14-men after their captain Jeandre Rudolph failed to retreat 10 metres following a quickly taken Maties penalty.
Maties would take advantage of their extra man when they scored their third try from yet another maul with de Villiers grabbing his second try of the match to hand Maties an 18-16 lead after 29 minutes.
The second half got off to a frantic start as Pukke took the attack to home side but Maties stood firm in defence and launched attacks of their own the match flowed from one side of the field to the next.
The visitors would be the first to score when Smith streaked down the line to collect a Smit box kick and score under the poles. He failed to convert his own try as Pukke led 21-18 after 56 minutes.
The visitors would extend their lead in the 66th minute when Dean Stokes chased down a deft chip from Smith and beat a disparing dive from Maties’ Craig Barry to score in the corner to hand Pukke the bonus point.
Maties threw everything they had at Pukke in the dying minutes of the game and got their reward in the 78th minute when Ian Groenewald bulldozed his way over the try line to secure the bonus point. Brandon Thomson slotted the conversion to tie the game at 26-26.
Stokes had a chance to steal the win for Pukke but he knocked the ball on as the try line beckoned and the teams settled for a hard-fought draw.
Maties: 26 - Tries: Van Dyk, De Villiers (2), Groenewald; Conversions: Loubser, Thomson
NWU: 26 - Tries: Smit, Penalty try, Smith, Stokes; Conversions: Smith (2)
Yellow Cards: Stapelberg (Maties, 6 – entering a maul from the side), Rudolph (Pukke, 29 – Not retreating 10 metres)
15 Mike Muller, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Christoff van Tonder, 12 Koos Loubser, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Justin Benn, 6 Beyers de Villiers (captain), 5 Kobus van Dyk, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Wesley Adonis
Substitutes: 16 Neethling Gericke, 17 Niel Oelofse, 18 Janco Venter, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Kyle Leibrandt, 23 John Hubert Meyer
15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Dalen Goliath, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (captain), 7 Marno Redelinguys, 6 Rhyk Welgemoed, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Loftus Morrison, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Jacques Vermaak, 1 Johan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Wian Fourie, 17 Mogau Mabokela, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Molotsi Bouwer, 20 Kurshwill Williams, 21 Marnus Tack, 22 Heinrich Smith, 23 Cayle Denner