Johannesburg - The opening game of the 2017 Varsity Cup saw hosts UJ narrowly lose 16-12 to 2016 champions NWU-Pukke on Monday night.
The rain certainly did not damper the mood in the Johannesburg Stadium as the vibrant home crowd was treated to a high-octane start from both sides.
The teams were going at each other and it wasn't until the 13th minute when Pukke got on the scoresheet first with a penalty from Schalk Hugo.
The champions started to grow in confidence as lovely interactive passing from the backline saw UJ’s defence torn in half as winger Jimmy Mpailane jotted down for the first try of the game, 10-0 to Pukke after 20 minutes.
The home side got on the scoresheet themselves with a penalty from Divan Nel. The flyhalf did it again with another penalty from his own half to cut the lead to four points.
He then made it a hat-trick of penalties to put UJ within a point of the lead. Divan Nel with the last kick of the half put UJ in the lead with his fourth successive penalty, giving the home side a slender advantage going into the break.
Pukke applied early pressure at the start of the second half. The hosts, however, were able to deal with the pressure from Pukke.
The away side eventually broke the deadlock and took the lead through flyhalf Schalk Hugo to take a 13-12 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
The pressure now was on UJ as they looked to turn the game around. The crowd got behind their team in hope of sparking a likely victory.
However, Pukke put the game further away from UJ, as Hugo converted his third penalty to make it 16-12.
It was a tense finale, but Pukke were able to hold on for a narrow win.
Player that Rocks: Wilmar Arnoldi (Pukke)
Penalties: Divan Nel (4)
Tries: Jimmy Mpailane
Conversions: Schalk Hugo
Penalties: Schalk Hugo (3)
15 Ronald Brown, 14 Tyreeq February, 13 Ramaboea, 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Aphiwe Dyanti, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Johan Esterhuizen, 8 Jo-Hanko de Villiers, 7 Adrian Bester, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 Estian Enslin, 4 Kyle van Dalen, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Johannes Snyman, 1 Dillon Bakos
Substitutes: 16 Emmanuel Morowane, 17 Gela Khanya, 18 Reinhaard Nothnagel, 19 Leon Massyn, 20 Hilton Mudraki, 21 Ewan Adams, 22 Peter John Walters, 23 Sarel Smit
15 Lungelo Gosa, 14 Jimmy Mpailane, 13 Elden Schoeman, 12 Henko Marais, 11 Tapiwe Mafura, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Jeandré Rudolph (captain), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Wandile Mazibuko, 5 Loftus Morrison, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Dewald Dekker, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Dolf van Deventer
Substitutes: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Nico van Tonder, 18 Morné Strydom, 19 Boela Venter, 20 Marcel Henn, 21 Caleb Louw, 22 AK Nela, 23 Justin Newman