UJ, Ikeys remain unbeaten
Theuns Kotze (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - FNB UJ and FNB UCT ended round three as the only unbeaten sides in the 2011 Varsity Cup, but the men from Johannesburg left things rather late against the FNB Shimlas in the game of the week.
Having found themselves trailing by 9-24 at one stage in the second half, the University of Johannesburg, playing at home, clawed their way back before eventually taking the lead in the final four minutes when replacement hooker Francois du Toit burrowed over for a try.
Flyhalf Theuns Kotze slotted the conversion to open up a crucial four-point gap at 28-24, which proved to be just enough as the visitors - who beat the FNB Maties last Monday - came at UJ with one final attempt.
In the end, a final loose pass brought about the final whistle, much to the delight of the home fans, players and their coaching staff.
Shimlas initially impressed with the pace at which they played, whilst UJ had too little possession to make an impression - until midway through the second half, that is. Then their forwards took over. Backed by a competent backline that took the right options, they kept up the pressure until Du Toit's match-winning try.
In Cape Town, UCT had a lot less trouble in putting away FNB NMMU by 49-12 in their annual Monte Taljaard Trophy Match - the first time these two teams have met in Cape Town in the history of the Varsity Cup.
Scrumhalf Nic Groom, who walked off with Man of the Match honours on his 21st birthday, scored one of his UCT's six tries as the home side converted their 27-5 half-time lead into their second successive bonus-point win of the season.
The Ikeys' third win on the bounce - in their first home game of the season - also saw the Capetonians retain their place in first position on the Varsity Cup log, with fellow unbeaten side, UJ, breathing down their necks just one point behind.
The FNB Maties - three times winners of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International - are just two points back in third place, followed by FNB Tuks who inflicted a third successive win over the hapless FNB Pukke this season.
The University of Pretoria (Tuks) recorded a thoroughly deserved 35-10 victory over the North West University (NWU-Pukke), running in five tries to one in a somewhat scrappy affair.
Unlike in last week's match against TUT where they lost after racking up an early lead, Tuks stuck to their gameplan and thrived off the numerous errors their opponents made on the evening.
Although the Pukke pack will look back at the contest as one they could have won, their backline gave away possession far too frequently and were punished by the ever-alert visitors.
Blue Bulls scrumhalf Danie Faasen scored a brace for his team with wing Hayden Groepes, fullback Jurgen Visser and hooker Robbie Coetzee also getting on the scoresheet. Leopards star Cecil Dumond scored the only try for Pukke on an otherwise fruitless evening.
The Maties, meanwhile, scored six tries to two in thumping the Tshwane University of Technology 44-12 on a hot afternoon in Pretoria - in the first game of Round Three.
The try difference did not even tell the whole story as, willing as TUT were, the Maties were better in every aspect of rugby.
The scoring got off to a slow start in the match - a penalty after 21 minutes and a try after 30 minutes, before the juggernaut Matie scrum produced another try and JJ Breet of TUT scored the best try of the half to make the score 15-7 at the break, which seemed unfair to Maties.
In the second half they scored another four tries, including a penalty try when Louis Jordaan was prevented from scoring.
Tythan Adams's second try was the try of the match as the Maties won a turnover in their own 22, flank Grant Hattingh threw a dummy and Adams was sent racing for the posts.
Just before then TUT got their second try following a penalty-generated line-out and maul before the ball went wide to centre Hansie Graaff who scored in the corner.
The outstanding player on the field was Maties fullback Ruan Combrinck who always beat opponents every time he ran with the ball, and he ran with the ball often.