Tuks clinch maiden title
Johannesburg - After playing in four semi-finals and two finals, Tuks finally won the Varsity Cup title with a 29-21 victory over three-time champions Maties in Pretoria on Monday evening.
The hosts lay down the gauntlet with a try in the fourth minute of the match.
Tuks spread the ball wide with flyhalf Wesley Dunlop skip-passing the ball to Jerome Pretorius who caught it at pace to score, with Dunlop shanking the conversion kick to the left.
Armed with most of the possession, Tuks could not find more gaps in the Maties defence and a battle of attrition ensued.
Maties got the better of the hosts on the 20-minute mark as fullback Andre Smith scored a brilliant individual try to draw the scores level, with scrumhalf Donald Stevens converting to give them a three-point lead.
With his side on attack in Tuks’ 22, Smith cleverly chipped the ball over the advancing defenders’ heads to field the bouncing ball shortly before the tryline and score behind the posts.
Tuks employed their tried and tested kick-and-chase tactic, but their inaccurate kicking made it an ineffective approach.
With little ball possession, Maties made the best of the chances they created on attack and converted their opportunities into points.
Seven minutes before the end of the first half, Tuks scored their second five-pointer of the match when prop Basil Short powered his way over the tryline shortly after he came on as a replacement for Sabelo Nhlapo.
Dunlop converted to extend the lead to five points at 13-8.
Their advantage, however, was short-lived as the Stellenbosch University outfit came back with a vengeance, advancing to the other side of the field where lock Hugo Kloppers scored in the left-hand corner, and Stevens converted to equalise the scores.
The sides went into the break deadlocked at 13-13 but Tuks broke the impasse as they scored from the kick-off.
Pretorius was once again instrumental in the try when he got over the gain line with a good break, running down the touchline.
He then stepped inside where he offloaded to a speeding Lohan Jacobs to score, with Dunlop succeeding with the conversion (21-13).
Tuks struck another demoralising blow as their electrifying fullback, Clayton Blommetjies, offloaded to lock Franco Mostert, who held up a defender to score.
Dunlop converted to extend his side’s lead to 16 points, with 16 minutes left in the match.
The visitors came back strongly but could muster only one try at the death, through Hein van der Merwe, and their attempts proved fruitless as Tuks held on to lift their maiden title.
Scorers: Tuks 29 (13): Tries: Jerome Pretorius, Basil Short, Lohan Jacobs, Franco Mostert. Conversions: Wesley Dunlop (3).
Maties 21 (13): Tries: Andre Smith, Hugo Kloppers, Hein van der Merwe. Conversion: Donald Stevens (2).