UCT went down 17-13 to Pukke in Potchefstroom but did enough to ensure home ground advantage for their semi-final tie next week.
Pukke needed to win with a bonus point and keep UCT from registering any points to leapfrog their Cape opponents into second place on the log, but the North West students could only muster two tries and will now face the Tigers down in Cape Town in a week’s time.
Pukke started the better of the two sides and took the lead in the sixth minute through a Cecil Dumond penalty and just four minutes later captain Willem Van der Wal burst through the UCT defence to score under the posts and Dumond added the conversion to put his side out to a 10- lead with just 10 minutes gone.
The Tigers, though, slowly started to come back into the encounter and having missed an earlier shot at goal, flyhalf Matthew Rosslee finally got his team on the scoreboard in the 35th minute with a well struck penalty from the left hand side of the field.
Pukke were then caught napping by a short lineout move and winger Marvin Christians sprinted down the sideline and saw off the challenge of Andrew van Wyk to score in the corner. Rosslee added the conversion and just like that the scores were level.
The hosts started the second-half well and after a good period of sustained pressure Pukke put together a good rolling maul and big prop Bennie Uys got the ball over the line to put his side back in front.
Pukke enjoyed the bulk of the possession and were dominant at scrum time, but despite winning a couple of scrums against the feed, their backs were unable to take advantage of the good first phase ball and in the end John Dobson’s men were content to settle for the losing bonus point.
By Andrew Worling