Cape Town - NWU-Pukke turned in a solid performance in their opening FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International match against UP-Tuks as they scored four tries to win 38-15 in Pretoria on Monday night.
NWU-Pukke dominated the opening exchanges of the first half, making inroads into FNB Tuks' 22 to apply the pressure early. FNB Pukke was immediately rewarded when lock, Walt Steenkamp, pounced on a scrappy FNB Tuks lineout to score the first try of the 2016 Varsity Cup season. A conversion by flyhalf, Rhyno Smith, gave FNB Pukke a seven-point lead.
Any attempt by Tuks to string together an attack was undone by unforced errors which prevented them from gaining any momentum. Pukke, on the other hand, had no such problems as the flyhalf, Barend Janse van Rensburg, scored the first nine-point try in World Rugby thanks to yet another Tuks handling error. Van Rensburg took a quick tap in his own half and benefitted from two great passes to find himself diving over Tuks’ try-line moments later. Smith duly converted the extras to make it 18-0 after nine minutes.
A successful penalty by Tuks’ Joshua Stander was quickly cancelled out by another Van Rensburg try after the first strategy break and, thanks to two successful conversions from Smith, Pukke held a healthy 25-3 lead at the break.
Tuks started the second half with their tails up and scored two tries in the first quarter to give the men from Pretoria some hope. Prop, Andrew Beerwinkel, crashed over for FNB Tuks’ first try of the season while wing, Duhan van der Merwe, was on the receiving end of a sublime set move to claim a try of his own to momentarily bring the scores to 15-31 to FNB Pukke.
However, it was Pukke who had the final say of the match when centre, Slyvian Mahuza, scored in the corner to bag the bonus point try for the visitors. Smith nailed the touchline conversion to extend his side’s lead to an unassailable 23 points with seven minutes remaining. Tuks launched one final attack from deep in their own half and summed up their performance with yet another handling error. The final whistle brought the game to a close, leaving FNB Tuks much to think about before next week’s fixture.
Both sides struggled with ball-in-hand as they conceded over 18 handling errors a piece, but it will be the Tuks players who will have more to think about in the coming week of the two teams. While Pukke made the most of their opportunities, Tuks were unable to convert good field position into points and were ultimately their own worst enemies. The two-time champions will need to finish will have to regroup and rectify their mistakes as they prepare to host defending champions UFS-Shimlas at the Tuks Rugby Stadium next Monday.
Kick-off is at 18:30 with the match not being televised on Super Sport One.
Tries: Andrew Beerwinkel, Duhan van der Merwe
Conversion: Joshua Stander
Penalty: Joshua Stander
Tries: Walt Steenkamp, Barend Janse van Rensburg (2), Sylvian Mahuza
Conversions: Rhyno Smith (4)
Penalties: Rhyno Smith (2)
UP-Tuks: 15 Riaan Britz, 14 Keanan van Wyk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Max Calitz, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Gerrit Engelbrecht, 6 Ruan Steenkamp (c), 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Pieter Janse van Vuren, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Jan Enslin, 17 Du Toit Genis, 18 Aston Fortuin, 19 Marco van Staden, 20.Carlo Engelbrecht, 21 Quaid Langeveldt, 22 Toko Maebane, 23 Justin Forwood.
NWU-Pukke: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Lucian Cupido, 13 Slyvian Mahuza, 12 Hendrik Marais, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Marno Redelinghuys, 7 Jeandre Rudolph (c), 6 Jaco Jordaan, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Neil Morrison, 3 Bart le Roux, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Estehan Visagie, 20 Kurshwill Williams, 21 Akhona Nela, 22 Elden Schoeman, 23 Mogau Mabokela.