Tukkies sneak into play-offs

Tukkies secured a semi-final spot when they broke Maties’ unbeaten record in their 25-23 victory at Coetzenburg.

Only a win would do for the visitors and this one went right down to the wire as Stellenbosch scrumhalf Donald Stevens missed a last minute penalty that would’ve knocked Tukkies out of the competition.

The two sides will repeat the fixture next week in the semi and Tukkies will return to Stellenbosch with much confidence from the upset having outscored their hosts three tries to two.

Maties centre Jean Stemmet opened the scoring after just two minutes and this sparked an impressive quarter of an hour from the hosts.

Tukkies, playing with the wind, kicked poorly and their indiscipline allowed Stevens to kick two penalties to hand Stellenbosch a 13-3 lead.

As poor as the visitors were in the opening half hour, in the final 10 minutes of the half they put together some of their renowned forward-orientated phase play. Led by Man of the Match and lock Peet Botma, they scored two tries through 123kg prop Jacques Botha and wing Kruger van Heerden, who finished with an extravagant dive vaulting over the last defender.

Stevens kicked another three-pointer to ensure a 16-15 half-time lead for Maties.

They started the second half just as they did the first through a Stevens try and at 23-15 they looked comfortable leaders.

However, Tukkies flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked a penalty to narrow the lead and when Maties captain Wesley Wilkens was yellow-carded for repeated infringements the visitors capitalised.

Hooker Henri Bantjes barged over and they hit the lead for the first time in the match.

With two minutes remaining Wilkens continued his poor night when he knocked on with an open line 2m out, but Tukkies still had to hold on bravely.

They were pressured into giving away a penalty, but Stevens couldn’t convert the difficult attempt.

Meanwhile, in the other result UJ earned a bonus-point 36-10 win over NMMU in Port Elizabeth, but missed out on the semis due to Tukkies’ triumph.

In the final fixture of the evening, Shimlas embarrassed TUT 78-22 in Pretoria.

By Grant Ball