Cape Town - The Varsity Cup kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday, with a mouthwatering clash between Wits and UFS-Shimlas at a rather wet Wits Rugby Stadium.
Shimlas lived up to their favourites tag, as they managed to beat Wits 21-26 in a game that could have gone either way
The match got underway with the home side looking threatening with the backs running the ball well. A few handling errors unfortunately let both teams down as they looked to go forward with ball in hand.
The first try did, however, fall to the home side, as Wits winger Kwanele Ngema picked up a ball from a scrum in the Shimlas half and managed to beat a few defenders on his way to sliding over for a great try. The resulting conversion attempt from Wits captain and flyhalf Warren Gilbert was a great one as he added the extra two points to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
The visitors then seemed to rise to the occasion themselves as they came charging back at the hosts. As a result of the visitors’ efforts, Shimlas winger Marco Mason dashed through the Wits defence to dot down in the corner to cut the deficit to just two points after he failed to convert his own try. The rest of the half then saw the men from the Free State dominate as they added a further two unanswered tries from Dian Badenhorst and Niell Stannard, with Mason only converting one try to leave the score at 19-7 to the visitors going into the break.
The second half started in a similar fashion as the first, with Wits dotting down through big lock forward Graham Logan, who scored after Wits had been applying pressure on the Shimlas line for a few moments.
Gilbert then cut the difference to just five points with a great conversion to bring the score to 19-14. Shimlas then lost No 8 Bernardus Erasmus, who received a yellow card.
This gave Wits confidence, which led to them running in another converted try through hooker CJ Conradie. That would be the last bit of tryline action from the home side, as the visitors had the last say in the match, with substitute forward Francois Steyn crossing over for UFS and to claim the victory.
Player That Rocks: Phumzile Maqondwana (Shimlas)
Tries: Kwanele Ngema, Graham Logan, CJ Conradie
Conversions: Warren Gilbert (3)
Tries: Marco Mason, Dian Badenhorst, Niel Stannard, Francois Steyn
Conversions: Marco Mason (3)
15 Lux Ntsepe, 14 Kwanele Ngema, 13 Josh Jarvis, 12 AJ van Blerk, 11 Jarred Branco, 10 Warren Gilbert (captain), 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Jethro de Lange, 7 Mike Renwick, 6 Ruan MacDonald, 5 Rhyno Herbst, 4 Graham Logan, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 CJ Greeff
Substitutes: 16 Justin Brandon, 17 Ameer Williams, 18 Pascal Snyman, 19 Chris Worthington, 20 Wolta Mtsweni, 21 Brandan Hewitt, 22 Themba Mpemvu, 23 Brandon Palmer
15 Sechaba Motsoela, 14 Marco Mason, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Stephan Janse van Rensburg (captain), 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Niell Stannard, 9 Dian Badenhorst, 8 Bernadus Erasmus, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Neil Claassen, 4 Nicolaas Immelman, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Hanno Snyman, 1 Kwenzokuhle Blose
Substitutes: 16 Francois Steyn, 17 Johan Kotze, 18 Raymond Woest, 19 Musa Mahlesa, 20 Rewan Kruger, 21 Lihleli Xoli, 22 Nicholas Naude, 23 Thabiso Msiza