A try in the final minute gave Stellenbosch a 16-10 win over UCT in the final of the inaugural Varsity Cup.
The match was as tight as the scoreboard suggests, with both teams making many errors and repeatedly turning over ball. The game was still an intense and entertaining affair played in front of an above capacity Danie Craven Stadium – there were even spectators watching from the forest above the the ground adding to the 17 000 inside.
The first half saw a player from each side being yellow carded. Firstly UCT prop Herbert Mayosi spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for foul play, and this cost his team three points as Maties wing Henoe Stoffberg kicked the opening penalty of the final. Stellenbosch centre Sarel Potgieter was also sin-binned, this time for offside, and UCT responded with a try from wing Marcello Sampson. Stoffberg kicked another penalty to give Maties a 6-5 lead going into the break.
The opening half an hour of the second stanza remained scoreless, but a Mathew Turner try 10 minutes from time gave what seemed the killer blow to Ikeys as they regained the lead 10-6. The drama was far from over: Maties thought they had scored the try to reclaim the advantage on the scoreboard, but UCT captain JJ Gagiano used his team’s white card for the half. This new innovation allows teams to challenge the referee’s decision, and the TMO decided the try should be disallowed. Maties kept pressurising, and flyhalf Ricardo Croy was rewarded with a drop-kick to narrow the gap to one point.
Maties fullback Joe Pietersen knocked the ball over the try-line, and it seemed the night was not to be the home side’s. However with the next phase of play the ball was spread wide to wing Morne Jooste who scored in the corner, while Stoffberg converted to rub salt into Ikey wounds.
*The Ikey Colts beat Dagbreek Koshuis 17-15 in the curtain-raiser.
Maties - Try: Morne Jooste. Conversion: Henoe Stoffberg. Penalties: Stoffberg (2). Drop-goal: Ricardo Croy.
Ikeys - Tries: Marcello Sampson, Mathew Turner.
By Grant Ball