Cape Town - There were two thrilling draws in an intense opening round of Varsity Cup presented action on Monday.
Cape rivals UCT and Maties ended deadlocked on 32-32 at a sold out Green Mile, whilst in Bloemfontein two-time champions UP-Tuks and UFS-Shimlas played out a 29-29 draw.
That means that UJ top the standings after Round One following their 46-10 demolition of newcomers CUT Ixias, and they are followed by NWU-Pukke who scored two late tries to secure a 36-26 victory over NMMU.
The first game of the tournament took place in Potchefstroom, and there was no shortage of drama with 10 tries, five yellow cards and a red card.
In a match that could have gone either way hosts NWU-Pukke finished strongest to repeat their semifinal victory over the same opponents last year.
In the other semi-final replay down in Cape Town, Maties looked set to earn revenge for their two defeats to the Ikeys last year, but the defending champions fought back valiantly in front of their home crowd, and a late penalty try saw them salvage a tense draw.
In Bloemfontein CUT endured a baptism of fire as UJ ran in eight tries to cruise to victory, leaving the Ixias as the only team without a bonus point to show for their efforts in the opening round.
Across town at Shimla Park it was far more competitive as UFS-Shimlas and UP-Tuks traded blows throughout an entertaining match which saw them score four tries and three conversions each.
As the only two teams to record victories in Round One UJ and NWU-Pukke lead the way, with four teams tied for third place with three log points each heading into the second round next week.
In the second round of the Varsity Shield the UKZN Impi backed up their impressive win against UWC in Bellville last week by handing TUT Vikings a 68-5 hiding, whilst in Alice Wits made their return to the competition with a 42-24 victory over Fort Hare.