Cape Town - UFS-Shimlas proved that experience means nothing in the Varsity Cup as they beat UP-Tuks 19-17 at a cold and wet Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday evening.
Rugby fans throughout South Africa may have been excited for the start of the 2018 Varsity Cup but it would appear as if the weather did not receive the memo as thunderstorms drowned out the noise made by the lively crowd in Pretoria.
As expected, both teams tightened up their approach as they looked to open their account. UP-Tuks wing Dewald Naude thought his try from a collected cross kick was good but it was denied by the referee as he was deemed to be in front the ball.
UP-Tuks flyhalf Tinus de Beer made no mistake in the 18th minute as his pinpoint kick landed straight into the hands of wing Xolisa Guma who merely dotted the ball down for the opening try of the season.
UFS-Shimlas struck back soon after the first strategy break as wing Gideon Agenbag stormed down the touchline to score a seven point try. Flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela was on hand to convert.
The score remained the same until the break despite UP-Tuks running full tilt at the men from Bloemfontein but their efforts went a begging as UFS-Shimlas dug in their heels on defence.
UFS-Shimlas used the first half to establish themselves as 11 players in their match day squad made their Varsity Cup debuts against the defending champions but it was in the second half where they truly shone.
The visitors extended their lead within five minutes of the restart as flank Benjamin Janse van Vuuren crashed over in the corner for a converted try as the teams continued to struggle in the wet conditions.
It may have been Dobela's Varsity Cup debut but he controlled the match at flyhalf like a seasoned veteran while landing a penalty goal in the 51st minute.
The defending champions took too long to adapt their game plan to match the tenacity of UFS-Shimlas despite a try to inside centre Toko Seerane after the visitors' lost replacement prop Joseph Botha to a yellow card.
Captain and loose forward, Denzel Hill, scored a consolation try for the home team but it was not enough as De Beer knocked over his first kick of the match.
UP-Tuks will rue lost opportunities and failing to land conversions as the University of Pretoria lost to the University of the Free State 19-17.
Player that Rocks: Lubabalo Dobela (UFS-Shimlas)
Tries: Xolisa Guma, Toko Seerane, Denzel Hill
Cons: Tinus de Beer
Tries: Francois Agenbag (seven point), Benjamin Janse van Vuuren
Cons: Lubabalo Dobela (2)
Yellow card: Joseph Botha
UP-Tuks: 15. WJ Strydom, 14. Dewald Naude, 13. Tony Botha, 12. Toko Seerane, 11. Xolisa Guma, 10. Tinus de Beer, 9. Theo Maree, 8. Clyde Davids, 7. Denzel Hill (c), 6. Jaco Bezuidenhout, 5. Eli Snyman, 4. Marius Verwey, 3. Andrew Beerwinkel, 2. Jan-Henning Campher, 1. Franco van den Berg.
Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Ettienne Janeke, 18. Ruan Nortje, 19. Eduan Lubbe, 20. Carlo Engelbrecht, 21. Zandre Kruger, 22. Mehle Nelani, 23. Mornay Smith.
UFS-Shimlas: 15. Nicholas Naude, 14. Athi Halom, 13. Kurt Eybers, 12. Sango Xamlashe, 11. Francois Agenbag, 10. Lubabalo Dobela, 9. Dian Badenhorst, 8. Albertus de Bod, 7. Menzi Nhlabathi, 6. Benjamin Janse van Vuuren, 5. Henk Pretorius, 4. Sibalalo Qoma, 3. Mogau Mabokela, 2. Hanno Snyman, 1. Johan Kotze (c).
Replacements: 16. JC Janse van Vuuren, 17. Wentzel Vorster, 18. Joseph Botha, 19. Raymond Woest, 20. Christoffel Roelofse, 21. Zinedine Booysen, 22. Carel Coetzee, 23. Sechaba Matsoel