Cape Town - After finding themselves trailing 43-15 after 43 minutes, Shimlas staged a comeback of immense proportions to snatch a stunning 47-46 victory in the final moments of a Varsity Cup match against Tuks in Pretoria.
Tuks appeared the more determined of the two sides in the opening moments after their home defeat to Pukke the week before. Tuks’ Neethling Fouche scored the first try of the match to cancel Stephan Janse van Rensburg’s penalty goal for Shimlas. The missed conversion meant the scores remained at 5-3 to Tuks until after the first strategy break when Tuks were awarded a seven point penalty try. Joshua Stander didn’t miss this time to make the score 12-3.
The remaining minutes of the first half were evenly shared, with only the new point scoring system separating the two teams. Tuks scored two nine-point tries through wing, Duhan van der Merwe, and fullback, Riaan Britz, while Shimlas scored two five point tries through prop, Teunis Nieuwoudt, and flyhalf, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, as Tuks ended the first half with a 36-15 lead.
While most teams may have bowed their heads and accepted defeat, Shimlas showed exactly why they are the defending champions by showing great character to claw their way back into the game. Tuks once again began the half off well with a 44th minute converted try. But one seven-point try and a converted 5-point try by Shimlas signaled the turn of the tide, making the score 43-29 at the hour mark.
A penalty by Stander two minutes later gave the leaders some breathing space, but only temporarily. A fantastic nine-point try that was finished by Shimlas reserve, Jacobus van Vuuren, highlighted just how quickly things can change with the new scoring system, bringing Shimlas just six points behind after the conversion. But Shimlas weren’t done there, and their reserve hooker, Marco Klopper, scored their fourth try of the match in 74th minute. The conversion that followed completed the comeback as Shimlas defended the last five minutes to finish 47-46 winners.
Tuks will need to ensure they learn how to close out their games in the future, but will take a lot of positives from this 93-point match when they travel to Stellenbosch to face Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium next Monday.
Shimlas will be relieved with both the win and the character they showed in the process.