Pretoria - The University of Pretoria put on a valiant effort to hold defending Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw at the Tuks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
AmaTuks got onto the scoresheet first after a Thabo Mnyamane strike in the 36th minute, while Sundowns replied in the 50th minute with a tap-in from Khama Billiat.
After equalising, Sundowns unleashed an onslaught after a quiet first-half, but were unable to punish their cross-town rivals.
The university club have themselves to blame for not taking the lead earlier in the 14th minute when midfielder Vuyisile Ntombayithethi mishit his shot across the face of goal, away from danger.
They replied with another missed opportunity in the 17th minute when Geoffrey Massa’s attempted lob over the goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene curled wide of the target.
Mweene lobbed a mistake waiting to happen when in the 24th minute he unintentionally passed the ball to an opposition player but Hlompho Kekana spared his blushes as he quickly repossessed the ball.
Sundowns spread the ball around the midfield but found the AmaTuks defensive wall impenetrable.
Tricky winger Billiat made a dashing run into the penalty box in the 29th minute, only to have AmaTuks captain Tebogo Monyai thwart his attack with a clean tackle.
Sundowns midfielder Bongani Zungu nearly punished his former team in the 32nd minute with a defence splitting cross to Cuthbert Malajila, who scooped his chance into the stands.
The opening goal came after Massa's wobbling free-kick was parried into path of Mnyamane in the 36th minute, who tapped-in with ease.
In reply Sundowns had a shout for penalty waived by the referee after it appeared as if the ball had hit Siyabonga Shoyisa on the arm.
In a counter-attack after the play Mnyamane failed to convert a second goal after Massa laid the ball off on a platter in the box, but the striker missed the target from close range.
AmaTuks goalkeeper Washington Arubi made a superb low-diving save to deny Billiat after a well-placed free-kick.
Sundowns were unable to make headway into the opposition territory as yet another attack was stopped in its tracks by the resilient AmaTuks defence.
Influential midfielder Teko Modise had a below-par first-half by his standards which would be a concern for coach Pitso Mosimane after a recent dip in form.
In the second half, Sundowns came out of the tunnels stronger and with better intent and they were soon level. Malajila neatly controlled the ball with his chest and provided Billiat with the assist in the 50th minute.
Sundowns had a passage of play where they pinned the home team back into their own half and in the 58th minute they scored a goal that was adjudged to be offside by the assistant referee.
The Brazilians were reinvigorated as they continued to pose danger like when Anthony Laffor's header flew past the upright after a brilliant cross from Themba Zwane.