Maties held on for a hard-fought 23-17 win against UCT in Stellenbosch on Monday.
The conditions: perfect. The atmosphere: electric. A packed Danie Craven Stadium was set for another exhilarating Cape Derby between defending champions Maties and southern rivals UCT.
Both teams entered the encounter undefeated after five rounds, promising a close contest. And it was, but Maties emerged the victors as they fended off a late surge from Ikeys in the last quarter of the match.
Ikeys had only themselves to blame. The visitors enjoyed most of the possession and penetrated the home side’s defensive lines on several occasions. They also looked impressive at the breakdowns, working themselves into their opponent’s territory via good set-phase play.
But elementary errors such as poor decision-making and handling, inaccurate kicks and ill-discipline prevented them from converting their try-scoring opportunities.
Maties were not the convincing side as displayed in previous fixtures but they managed to capitalise on Ikeys’ mistakes and surged into a 13-0 lead.
Pivot Andre Kemp opened the scoring with two penalties, which was followed by a runaway try from lock Andrew Prior after intercepting Ikeys’ play on the halfway line.
The situation worsened for UCT as pivot Matt Rosslee and centre Marcel Brache were off target with the boot, missing 11 possible points between them. But they did hit back through a try by Marcello Sampson as the wing dived in at the corner after an impressive team effort.
Kemp converted one penalty on the half-time mark to secure a 16-5 lead for Maties at half-time.
The home side extended their lead to 18 points when wing Wilhelm Loock scored an early try but Ikeys returned to the field a more composed side after the break.
This saw UCT fight their way back into the game with two tries through replacement centre Mark Esterhuizen and fullback Therlow Pietersen.
Ikeys then had two clear opportunities to take the lead, but they were denied by a TMO decision and a knock-on by Pietersen 5m from the try-line.
Maties seemed to have the result in the bag as they had possession deep in Ikeys’ half with three minutes to go. But the visitors had one last attack and broke away into Maties’ 22.
With space out wide, the ball was passed through the hands and a late winner seemed inevitable. But prop Ash Wells lost the ball forward, handing Maties the victory as they cleared the ball into touch from the resulting scrum.
In other results, Shimlas ended Tuks play-off dreams as the former won 27-23 in Pretoria.
No 8 Boom Prinsloo, skipper Wayne Stevens, fullback Reinhardt Erwee and wing Beast Ndwandwa all scored for the visitors.
Pukke thrashed TUT 51-17 in Potchefstroom to rise above third-placed UCT on the log.
Lock Francois Robbertse scored a hat-trick as Pukke crossed the whitewash on eight occasions.
Last year’s finalists had a disappointing start to the campaign, but they should be able to secure a semi-final place with one round to go before the play-offs.
UJ thrashed NMMU to a record scoreline of 97-14 in Johannesburg.
It was the most points scored by a team in a Varsity Cup match and the highest points difference.
Hooker Edgar Marutlulle scored a hat-trick, while fullback Aubrey MacDonald, wing Lola Waka and replacement back Andre Smith grabbed a brace each as UJ scored 14 tries.
The huge deficit came in handy as UJ remain in a semi-final position on the log on points difference above Shimlas.
Varsity Cup, Round 6:
Maties 23 – 17 UCT
Tuks 23 – 27 Shimlas
Pukke 51 – 17 TUT
UJ 97 – 14 NMMU
Varsity Cup, Final Round:
Pukke vs Maties – 16:30
UCT vs Tuks – 18:30
Shimlas vs UJ – 18:30
TUT vs NMMU – 18:30
By Gareth Duncan