Stellenbosch - Maties have claimed a vital 26-16 bonus-point win against NMMU in Stellenbosch to keep their FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International play-off hopes alive.
The home side were forced to come from behind at the Danie Craven Stadium, and a convincing second-half performance was enough to move them up to move up to fifth place on the standings with just one round remaining before the play-offs.
The hosts struck first as all-action flank Beyers de Villiers opened their account after the ball was worked wide following some good phase play.
However, the visitors struck back as the ball was shifted out to inside centre Devon Lailvaux who was able to force his way over, and the conversion from flyhalf Steven Hansel gave them an 8-5 lead at the first strategy break.
There was little to choose between the sides in a highly physical encounter which saw committed defence from both teams, and as a result the Madibaz took their slender three-point lead into the half-time break.
Maties had the wind at their backs in the second half, and made a determined start as they sought to make the most of the advantage, but the visitors would be next to score as No.8 Andisa Ntsila forced his way over to take their lead out to 16-5.
However, Ntsila would soon turn from hero to villain when he was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements from his side.
Maties took advantage straight away as their no.8 Kobus van Dyk scored an unconverted try which put them back within striking distance at 16-10.
The home side took the lead when the referee awarded a penalty try after NMMU had been penalised repeatedly at scrum-time.
The home side had their tails up and they secured the vital bonus point with a superb individual effort from fullback Mike Muller who collected his own chip kick to score.
That gave them a 26-16 lead, and they managed to hold out until the final whistle to take a full five log points and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Maties: 26 - Tries: De Villiers, Van Dyk, penalty try, Muller; Conversions: Thomson (2)
NMMU: 16 - Tries: Lailvaux, Ntsila; Consversions: Hansel (2)
15 Mike Muller, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Christoff van Tonder, 12 Koos Loubser, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Bjorn Bernardo, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Justin Benn, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys (captain), 4 Lourens Fick, 3 Abel de Klerk, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Niel Oelofse
Substitutes: 16 Craig Corbett, 17 John Hubert Meyer, 18 Janko Venter, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Remu Malan, 21 Ernest Stapelberg, 22 Jamie Joseph, 23 Jacobus van der Merwe.
15 Jarryd Buys (captain), 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Micheal Barnardt, 12 Devon Lailvaux, 11 Brian Skosana, 10 Steven Hansel, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Philip Odendaal, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Robert Louw, 4 Stephan Zaayman, 3 Steven Robbeson, 2 Jody Reyneke, 1 Marzuk Maarman
Substitutes: 16 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 17 Laurence Christie, 18 Elandre van der Merwe, 19 Ivan-John du Preez, 20 Ivan ludick, 21 Andile Jho, 22 Khaya Malotana, 23 Arno Ebersohn.