UJ leave it late to win
Johannesburg - The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) may have lost their opening encounter by 33-23 against trans-Jukskei neighbours the University of Johannesburg (UJ), but will no longer carry the tag of Varsity Cup whipping boys after an otherwise impeccable performance.
UJ were trailing for most of the match, but through two late tries by replacement Earl Lewis and lock Jaco Swanepoel secured a very important bonus-point in the process.
Former SA Schools flyhalf Andisa Ngobo scored the first try of the match as the teams headed towards the half-time break with the rest of initial proceedings kept close by the boots of the respective kickers.
As the second 40 minutes started Vince Gwavu ensured his side increased their 20-6 lead when the FNB TUT Vikings capitalised on another mistake by the UJ backs.
Flyhalf Ruan Boshoff then slotted his third penalty of the night which saw TUT take a 23-14 lead.
UJ, however, fought back bravely and eventually managed to tire out the rock solid defenders they were up against all night.
In the first match of the day, the University of Cape Town beat the Shimlas 26-10 at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein, and deserved an even bigger win as they dominated all aspects of play.
The Shimlas were surprisingly sloppy while the Ikeys used every opportunity to run with the ball and did it best when they came bursting down the middle of the field.
One such burst, started by an inside pass from flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis to centre Marcel Brache ended in a try for flanker Don Armand. The Shimlas' only score in the first half was a penalty goal, which made the score 7-3 at the break.
Ikeys' Catrakilis kicked three penalties to take the score to 16-3 and then they got their second try when they battered at the Shimla line and then came wide to replacement Sabelo Siyakatshana who cut through for a try at the posts.
Shimlas got a try - against the run of play and after a doubtful pass - by Hanno Pieterse to make the score 23-10, before Catrakilis kicked his fourth penalty on the stroke of full-time.
In the other two late matches on Monday night, defending champions, the Maties, overpowered NWU-Pukke 32-6 in Stellenbosch, whilst Tuks flexed their muscles with a 37-8 win over NMMU in Port Elizabeth.
The Maties scored four tries, collecting a four-try bonus point in their opening game; the tries coming from forwards Helmut Lehman, Hugo Kloppers and 'Os' Hamman, young replacement back Tshotsho Mbovane claiming their bonus-point try shortly before full-time.
It was 6-6 at half-time in Stellenbosch, but the defending champions showed their class in the second half, their forwards taking control and the likes of Mbovane - who replaced Stokkies Hanekom early on - looking full of running.
Meanwhile, Tuks showed that all their pre-season hype was justified when they travelled to Port Elizabeth and came away with a 37-8 bonus-point win.
The Men from Pretoria - who have enlisted the help of Bulls boss Heyneke Meyer this year - scored five tries and very nearly doubled their half-time score after leading by 20-3 at half-time.