Tuks set up Maties showdown
Wesley Dunlop of Tuks runs into Juan Pretorius (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The 2012 Varsity Cup Finals day will take place in Pretoria on Monday, April 9, after the log-topping UP-Tuks booked their place in the final with a convincing 53-24 win over a brave but ultimately outclassed NWU-Pukke side.
Earlier in the day, the Maties 'nilled' UJ - winning 23-0 to progress to their fourth Varsity Cup final in five years, having last year missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals as UCT lifted the trophy for the first time.
The men in maroon, however, were way too sharp against UJ - the team that knocked them out of last year's Varsity Cup tournament - in their semi-final at the Danie Craven Stadium.
The Maties ran into a 21-0 half-time lead thanks to first-half tries from André Smith, Rob Herring and Grant Hattingh. Flyhalf André Kemp kicked two conversions and one penalty for a haul of eight points, as the powerful Maties forwards and their watertight defence snuffed out any hopes of a second-half comeback from UJ.
Whilst Tuks ended up with a seven tries to three win over NWU-Pukke in their Varsity Cup semi-final clash, it was by no means plain-sailing for the home side in Pretoria.
In fact, Tuks trailed the Pukke by 13-16 at half-time, but five second-half tries put the result beyond doubt - that after the visitors had managed to take the lead again in the second half with 30 minutes left on the clock.
Bulls fullback Clayton Blommetjies scored a try double - as he collected the Player that Rocks Award, for the second time this season - whilst the boot of Tuks flyhalf Wesley Dunlop also proved crucial in the end as he kicked six from seven conversions on offer.
Before the finals day on April 9 there is the not so small matter of the 2012 Varsity Shield Final on Monday, April 2, with the winners of that match going straight into the 2013 Varsity Cup at the expense of the winless TUT Vikings. The losing Shield finalists will then play against UCT in a one-off promotion/relegation match on the day of the 2012 Varsity Cup final on Easter Monday.
On that note,CUT booked a home Varsity Shield final after a dominant second-half performance saw them run in four unanswered tries to beat Fort Hare 40-10 in Alice. CUT will thus host Wits - who finished second on the log, but had a bye this week - in Bloemfontein next week.
UKZN fought back valiantly in the second half but had their hearts broken by a late try from UWC right wing Godlen Masimla which snatched a dramatic 32-29 victory for the Cape side in Pietermaritzburg.
The Impi did well to fight back and had the lead with minutes remaining but Godlen's bonus-point try ensured that UKZN ended the season with the wooden spoon after failing to record a single victory.
Meanwhile, the finalists in the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships and the first-ever Young Guns tournament were both also decided on Monday night.
In the Koshuisrugby Championships, Dagbreek (Stellenbosch) shocked defending champions Patria (NWU-Pukke) in their semi-final clash in Potchefstroom, beating them 12-9, with Shimlas' Vishuis beating the Cobras from UCT by 30-5 in Bloemfontein.
The Young Guns, meanwhile, replicated the senior Varsity Cup tournament and it will be a final between Stellenbosch and UP-Tuks, with their respective Under-20 teams qualifying for the inaugural final.
The Tuks Under-20s beat the NWU-Pukke juniors by 23-18 in their semi-final meeting in Pretoria, whilst the Maties Under-20s beat the UFS U20 team by 29-8 in Stellenbosch.
The Young Guns final will take place on Monday, April 2, with the Koshuis final being played as a curtain-raiser to the Varsity Cup final a week later - along with the promotion/relegation match.