Cape Town - Wits scored two late tries to claim a vital 30-26 away win against UCT in Cape Town in the first round of the Varsity Cup on Monday evening.
UCT brandished some early physicality which seemed to bewilder the visitors with Ikeys looking ripe to score before a strong defensive effort from Wits. The visitors turned the ball over and sent it wide to their speedster Kasande Kapepula who ran from his own half to score in the corner and claim a seven-point try. Wits flyhalf Christian Humphries converted, making the score 9-0 to the men from Johannesburg.
Wits kept the home side under sustained pressure and looked as though they were going to score again but the hosts were able to steal the ball after some nuggety work from the loose forwards, before UCT flyhalf Gresham Hock cleared for touch.
UCT used their forwards to drive up the field and won a penalty at the breakdown. They used the opportunity to kick for touch. After an expertly taken lineout and strong drive, No 8 Nyasha Tarusenga scored next to the touchline.
Wits went into the first strategy break 9-7 up with home side on their heels.
Wits looked to consolidate their lead just before the half-time whistle after a strong drive from their forwards on the UCT line but was thwarted by another a resolute effort from the UCT defence.
UCT turned the tides on their opposition and after winning another penalty, it was déjà vu as they pushed towards the tryline, but as the home side crossed the line, they were held up by Wits. After another scrum Wits were penalised on the five metre line and UCT were awarded a penalty try, going into the break 14-9 up.
Wits claimed back the lead after a strong forward drive that saw captain fantastic Constant Beckerling crash over for a five-point try with Humphries converting, making the score 16-14 to the visitors.
UCT called the Power Play but were unable to score. They however used the momentum to dot down just afterwards, with fullback Brian Martin crossing over which left the score before the second strategy break at 23-16.
UCT put what appeared to be the final nail in Wits’ coffin after the home side were awarded a penalty just outside the Wits 22 metre area. Martin continued his good form off the tee and got his side the three-pointer.
Wits weren’t dead yet though and set up a forward drive five metres from the UCT line. After some ferocious attacking from the visitors, replacement prop Chris Hume barged over with Humphries adding the extras.
Wits were clearly revitalised by their score. UCT kicked down the throat of the wily winger Kapepula, who showed some fancy footwork once again before giving it inside to AJ van Blerk who dove over, making the score 30-26.
The home side put in a strong performance in their first fixture but were unable to thwart a spirited and cohesive Wits side with Kapepula picking up the Player that Rocks award.
Tries: Nyasha Tarusenga, penalty try, Brian Martin
Conversions: Martin (2)
Tries: Kasande Kapepula, Constant Beckerling, Chris Hume, AJ van Blerk
Conversions: Christian Humphries (2)
15 Brian Martin, 14 Rayno Mapoe, 13 Khanyo Ngcukana, 12 Joel Smith, 11 Sebastian Roodt, 10 Gresham Hock, 9 Stefano de Gouveia, 8 Nyasha Tarusenga, 7 Josh Moon, 6 Liam Greenhalgh, 5 Duncan Saffy, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Simon Raw, 2 Hablutzel Cuan, 1 Quinton Losper
Substitutes:16 Josh Van Vuuren, 17 Ashwyn Adams, 18 Stanley Modjadji, 19 Gary Porter, 20 Kwezi Puza, 21 Eduard Schoonraad , 22 Lohan Lubbe, 23 Suwilanji Chibale
15 Tyrone Green, 14 Peabo Ngema, 13 Gregory Champion ,12 AJ van Blerk, 11 Kasande Kapepula, 10 Christian Humphries, 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Ayabulela Mdudi, 7 Conor-Terrah Brockschmidt, 6 Constant Beckerling, 5 Ludwig Snyman, 4 Dawid Bodenstein, 3 Jacobus Greeff, 2 John Conradie, 1 Ameer Williams
Substitutes: 16 Carl Brandon, 17 Peter Hume, 18 Sipho Siboza, 19 Lwazi Monakali, 20 Jethro de Lange, 21 Morne van der Berg, 22 Manqoba Mbatha, 23 Siliwe Luyolo