FNB UFS-Shimlas beat FNB NWU-Pukke 63-33 in an epic final in Bloemfontein on Monday to claim their first FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International title.
The hosts outscored their old rivals by nine tries to four in a breathless match to end the season unbeaten and hand NWU-Pukke their second consecutive final defeat.
The visitors made a determined start to the match, and drove UFS-Shimlas deep into their own territory where they were able to force a penalty which was slotted by Rhyno Smith.
However, they were reduced to 14 men shortly afterwards when flank Marno Redelinghuys was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, and the home side took advantage immediately with lock Johan van der Hoogt barging over for the opening try which put them 8-2 up once converted by flyhalf Niel Marais.
They did not have that lead for long though, as Marais’ clearance from the restart was charged down by NWU-Pukke scrumhalf Malherbe Swart who scored under the poles to put his side back in front.
The Potchefstroom students were not done there and added a second try straight away, with inside centre Johan Deysel running a great line off a line-out in their own half to race away and score to stretch their lead out to 18-8 despite being a man down.
UFS-Shimlas hit back just after the first strategy break, with big No.8 Niell Jordaan crashing over from a driving maul to cap a sustained period of pressure, but the visitors were able to respond with another Smith penalty which took their lead out to 20-13.
The drama continued as NWU-Pukke captain Jeandre Rudolph was sent to the sin bin on the half-hour mark for repeated breakdown infringements and the home side duly capitalised with wing Maphutha Dolo stepping through a gap for a try that gave them the lead.
They were not done there though and came up with a fantastic counter-attack from their own half which was sparked by Vuyani Maqina who found Marais on the inside and the flyhalf produced a sensational offload to put flying flank Daniel Maartens away for a try which put them 26-20 ahead at half-time.
The hosts scored their fifth try just after the break with Marais central once again as he collected a partially charged kick and got the ball away to Dolo who released outside centre Nico Lee to surge over the whitewash.
At 34-20 down NWU-Pukke were right up against it and their forwards produced the perfect response with Rudolph scoring a pushover try from a dominant atacking scrum.
The seesaw battle continued as UFS-Shimlas hit back with a second try from Lee who hit a well-timed pass from Marais at pace to burst through and score under the poles.
That left NWU-Pukke with it all to do in the last 20 minutes, but it was not to be as tries from Marais, Dolo and Maartens piled more misery on the Potchefstroom side, and although the visitors had the last say with a late try from Rowayne Beukman it mattered little as the hosts claimed an emphatic victory in the end.
FNB Player that Rocks: Niel Marais
For FNB UFS-Shimlas:
Tries: Van der Hoogt, Jordaan, Dolo 2, Maartens 2, Lee 2, Marais
Cons: Marais 6
For FNB NWU-Pukke:
Tries: Swart, Deysel, Rudolph, Beukman
Cons: Smith 3
Pens: Smith 2
Yellow cards: Marno Redelinghuys (NWU-Pukke, 5 mins – Dangerous tackle) Jeandre Rudolph (NWU-Pukke, 30 mins – Repeated infringements)
FNB UFS-Shimlas: 15 AJ Coertzen (captain), 14 Vuyani Maqina, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Maphutha Dolo, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Gerhard Olivier, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Johan van der Hoogt, 4 Henco Venter, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Elandre Hugget, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Theunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Boela Venter, 19 De Wet Kruger, 20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane, 21 JP Coetzee, 22 Refuoe Rampete, 23 Dolph Botha.
FNB NWU-Pukke: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Dalen Goliath, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Dillon Smit, 10 Jonny Welthagen, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (captain), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Armandt Liebenberg, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Loftus Morrison, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Wian Fourie, 1 Johan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mogau Makobela, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Molotsi Bouwer, 20 Johannes Briers, 21 Bouke Tack, 22 Juandre Williams, 23 Cayle Denner.
Referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Tahla Ntshakaza
Assistant referees: Oregopotse Rametsi, Lourens van der Merwe
TMO: Johan Greeff
April 13, 2015 , by Michael De Vries
Durbanville-Bellville flyhalf Garth April on Monday kicked a late penalty in the dying minutes of a gripping Cell C Community Cup final against hosts and defending champions Rustenburg Impala to secure a hard-fought 31-30 victory and their first national title in the history of the club.
The final day of the competition was a high-scoring affair as all but one of the teams scored 30 points or more in their final matches, which made for exciting rugby at the Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg.
Mistakes at crucial times and turnovers at the rucks for Durbell came at a high price in the first half, but inspite of this they managed to force the hosts to work hard for their points. With the physicality and intensity high, the half was nail-biting with Impala scoring two tries to Durbell’s one for a narrow 12-10 lead. The second half was equally tense as each team scored two tries, but super kicking by Durbell, which saw Garth April kick a late penalty, secured them the victory.
In the third and fourth-place playoff Hamiltons were the first team to secure a 50-point score in this year’s Easter Playoffs as they thrashed GAP Management Despatch 66-40 thanks to their ability to take advantage of the holes in defence. Despatch looked tired at times and made errors at crucial times, which denied them from making their mark in the match in searing heat in Rustenburg. Despatch, however, showed their fighting spirit as they ran in a total of six tries to take the points tally of the match to 106 points.
Pretoria Police delivered a solid second-half display against Jonsson College Rovers to finish their campaign on a high note and the title as Plate Final winners, while Vaseline Wanderers defeated Wesbank 45-35 in their clash to finish seventh in the competition.
Durbanville-Bellville (10) Rustenburg Impala (12) - Cup final
Rustenburg Impala received an opportunity to score a try in the sixth minute as wing Morne Jooste made his way around the defence, but a knock-forward denied him. However, they continued to apply pressure on Durbell and gathered possession which allowed hooker Gavin Williamson to cross the try-line in the eighth minute.
A penalty by Durbell minutes later reduced the gap to 5-3. This appeared to bolster the Cape side’s confidence as they retained possession and applied pressure on attack. They created a fantastic opportunity to score a try, but a crucial error metres from the try-line early in the second quarter cost them again. Adding to this, three of their attempts at goal in the first 25 minutes proved unsuccessful. However, they were able to build on this momentum which resulted in Durbell flyhalf Garth April stepping his way through the defence to score their first try in the 30th minute for a 10-5 lead. But this was cancelled out minutes before the break as Rustenburg Impala flyhalf Cecil Dumond scored a well-worked try after gathering the ball from a nudge off Aubrey McDonald’s leg, leaving Durbell trailing 12-10 at halftime.
The defending champions opened up the scoring in the second half with a penalty by fullback Wilco De Wet, who added another in the 47th minute. But Durbell held on with a try by Angus Cleophas and another by Brendon April to only one unconverted try by Impala’s Mzivukile Duma to hold onto a narrow 25-23 lead with 10 minutes left on the clock. A late tackle by Impala’s De Wet allowed April to take a five-point lead on the scoreboard with nine minutes to play, but they again found themselves trailing as Impala’s Jermaine Apollis touched down for a 30-28 lead. The see-saw battle continued until the final minute as Durbell’s April kicked another penalty with three minutes to go, which proved to be the winning points.
Durbanville-Bellville: Tries - Angus Cleophas, Brendon April, Garth April. Conversions - Garth April (2). Penalties - Garth April (2), Raymond Olivier (2).
Rustenburg Impala: Tries - Cecil Dumond, Dumisani Matyeshana, Gavin Williamson, Jermaine Apollis. Conversions - Wilco de Wet (2). Penalties - Wilco de Wet (2).
Hamiltons 66 (40) Gap Management Despatch 40 (26) - 3rd/4th place playoff
Hamiltons dominated from the outset against GAP Management Despatch as they snuck through the holes in Despatch’s defence to run in an impressive six tries in the first half of the third and fourth-place playoff.
Despatch tried hard to counter the Cape side’s solid attack, and their efforts were rewarded with four tries, two of which were scored by wing Baldwin McBean to trail 40-26 at the break.
GAP Management Despatch’s woes continued in the second half as they were reduced to 14 men in the 63rd minute, while they also made mistakes at crucial times. The team, however, bounced back when their full complement of players was restored and scored two tries in the last 16 minutes to increase their points to 40.
With Hamiltons scoring four more tries in the second half, however, Despatch had to settle for a disappointing 66-40 defeat.
Hamiltons: Tries - Earl Lewis (2), Jacques Oosthuizen, Janno van Zyl, Jody Burch, Monty Dumond, Pierre Cronje (2), Sebastian Ferreira, Tapiwa Tsomondo. Conversions: Monty Dumond (7), Shane Vallender.
GAP Management Despatch: Tries - Baldwin McBean (2), Basil de Doncker, Dumisani Meslane, Michael Vermaak, Stephan Deyzel. Conversions - Selvyn Davids (5).
Jonsson College Rovers 15 (10) Pretoria Police 37 (11) - Plate final
The first half between Jonsson College Rovers and Pretoria Police was tight as both teams threw everything at each other, which resulted in a physical battle. Such was the close nature of the half each team scored only one try, but two penalties by Pretoria Police to only one by College Rovers nudged them ahead on the scoreboard.
The Durban side, however, were dealt a big blow in the second half as Luciando Santos and Chris Kemp received yellow cards reducing them to 13 men late in the match. A yellow card for Pretoria Police eased the situation for them. But despite this a superior performance by Pretoria Police, who found their rhythm on attack, allowed them to dominate the half. They also capitalised on their point-scoring chances which allowed them four tries to only one by Jonsson College Rovers for the 37-15 victory.
Jonsson College Rovers: Tries - Jongi Nokwe, Roan Dalzell. Conversion - Chris Micklewood.Penalty - Chris Micklewood.
Pretoria Police: Tries - Dillon Laubscher, Ian van Deventer (2), Jerry Sefoko, Ruan van Loo.Conversions - Dillon Laubscher (2), Pieter Strydom. Penalties: Dillon Laubscher (2).
Vaseline Wanderers 45 (12) Wesbank 35 (14) – 7th/8th place-playoff
Vaseline Wanderers staged a strong second-half comeback to secure a seventh place finish in the tournament in their clash against Wesbank as they ran in five well-worked tries after the break to secure the victory.
Wesbank’s innovative attack and raw pace gave them the upper hand in the first half and earned them a narrow 14-12 lead. But Wanderers retained possession and used their powerful forwards well to force their way over the advantage line in the second half to take control of the match. In total Wanderers scored seven tries to five by Wesbank.
Vaseline Wanderers: Tries - Johan September, Salmon Coetzee (3), Vincent Fredericks.Conversions - Theodore Marinus (5).
Wesbank: Tries - Carl Gliddon, Craig Kolarik, Darryn Rentzke, Dylan Rutherford, Kyle Dutton, Wesley Flanagan (2). Conversions - Craig Kolarik, Darryn Rentzke (4).
The unbeaten FNB UFS-Shimlas will host FNB NWU-Pukke in their first-ever FNB Varsity Cup final in Bloemfontein on April 13.
The Free State side saw off defending champions FNB UCT in their home semifinal on Monday, and NWU-Pukke edged table-topping FNB UP-Tuks in Pretoria to book a place in their second consecutive final.
A late try from flyhalf Jonny Welthagen saw NWU-Pukke snatch a dramatic 29-28 victory over UP-Tuks to send the two-time champions crashing out of the competition.
Welthagen had been the villain of NWU-Pukke's defeat to UCT in last year's final in Potchefstroom, but he turned to hero in Pretoria as a superb individual effort saw his side through.
NWU-Pukke were the only team to beat UP-Tuks in the round robin phase of the competition, and they made it a season double to set up a final clash against their old rivals in Bloemfontein on Monday, April 13.
UFS-Shimlas proved too strong for the Ikeys in the first semifinal, outscoring the Cape side by three tries to two to secure a spot in their first final which they will play in front of their home crowd thanks to NWU-Pukke's win against UP-Tuks.
FNB Wits will hosts FNB UKZN in the Varsity Shield final in Johannesburg next week, after the Kwa-Zulu Natal outfit picked up a comfortable 42-0 victory over FNB Fort Hare in Durban.
Wits had already secured a home final ahead of their clash with FNB UWC, and the teams ended tied for the second time this season as UWC fell short of a place in the final, ending the season in third place.
The Varsity Young Guns final next week will see a replay of last year's final only at a different venue as defending champions UFS host UP-Tuks in Bloemfontein.
The Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship final will see UP-Tuks' Steinhoff Mopanie go up against UFS-Shimlas' Steinhoff Vishuis after they cruised to a 71-13 victory over Steinhoff Bastion.
NWU-Pukke's FNB Patria cruised to an 84-0 win over UCT's Steinhoff Cobras, but it was not enough as they finished the season in third place.
Defending Cell C Community Cup champions Rustenburg Impala on Thursday kept alive hopes of winning back-to-back titles with a last-gasp penalty to book their place in the semifinals with Hamiltons, Durbanville-Bellville and GAP Management Despatch at the Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg.
The first day’s play was tightly contested as the teams gave everything to book a place in the semifinals on Saturday for a chance to win the title and the historic Gold Cup.
Hosts Rustenburg Impala defeated Pretoria Police 30-28 in a nailbiting match to close the opening day’s play in front of a passionate home crowd, while Hamiltons beat Wesbank 34-26 in the opening match.
Durbell, meanwhile, edged Jonsson College Rovers 30-25 and GAP Management Despatch defeated Vaseline Wanderers 25-14.
Unfortunately for Wesbank and Jonsson College Rovers missed opportunities cost them, while Hamiltons and Durbell did well to soak up the pressure applied by the opposition and capitalised on their chances.
GAP Management Despatch and Rustenburg Impala, meanwhile, had to work hard for their victories as Vaseline Wanderers and Pretoria Police put their bodies on the line, but the latter’s determined efforts were not enough to push them ahead on the scoreboard.
Hamiltons 34 (10) Wesbank 26 (15)
Hamiltons stamped their authority early on against Wesbank as their pack dominated up-front, which allowed them to cross the tryline in the fourth minute thanks to No 8 Jody Burch for a 7-0 lead.
Wesbank wing Ronnie Appolis hit back minutes later after receiving a solid pass in space and he used his pace to tip-toe his way around the defence. With both tries converted the scores were level at 7-7.
Hamilton’s flyhalf Monty Dumond extended their lead to 10-7 minutes later thanks to a penalty.
This lead was cancelled out by Wesbank scrumhalf Dashton Wellman, who slotted over a penalty in the 28th minute, which was followed up by a try by his teammate Chrislyn van Schalkwyk for a 15-0 halftime lead.
Hamiltons came out firing in the second half and scored two tries in the first seven minutes compliments of Earl Lewis and Francois Esterhuyzen, which pushed them into a 25-15 lead.
Wesbank replied with a penalty in the 53rd minute which they backed up with a fantastic try by fullback Anvon Davids, who collected his own grubber, but an unsuccessful conversion left them trailing 25-23.
The final quarter, however, was dominated by Hamiltons who slotted over three penalties to only one by Wesbank, which sealed the 34-26 victory for the Cape side.
Hamiltons 34 (10) : Tries - Earl Lewis, Francois Esterhuyzen, Jody Burch. Conversions - Monty Dumond (2). Penalties - Monty Dumond (4), Shane Vallender.
Wesbank 26 (15) : Tries - Anvon Davids, Chrislyn van Schalkwyk, Ronnie Appolis. Conversions - Dashton Wellman. Penalties - Dashton Wellman (3).
Durbanville-Bellville 30 (17) Jonsson College Rovers 25 (11)
The clash between Jonsson College Rovers and Durbanville Bellville also got off to a tight start as each team scored a try in the first 10 minutes, but a successful conversion by Durbell earned them a 7-5 lead.
Rovers captain Chris Micklewood slotted over a penalty minutes later to take a narrow 8-7 lead. This, however, was short-lived as Durbell flank Marius White received the ball in front of the try-line after his teammates drew the defence out wide to score their second try of the match, which Raymond Olivier converted to push their tally to 14 points.
The Cape side added a penalty minutes later to extend their lead to nine points, but Micklewood closed the gap to 17-11 on the stroke of halftime with a handy penalty.
Durbell picked up in the second half where they left off as Olivier kicked another penalty and converted a try by Danwel Demas to stretch their lead to 27-11.
Rovers, however, bounced back with a try by TC Khoza, which Micklewood converted to close the gap. But a penalty by Durbell stretched their lead to 12 points. With the clock winding down Rovers chipped away at the Durbell defence and their efforts paid off in the 72nd minute as Micklewood crossed the tryline and converted his own try to close the gap to 30-25. But this was not enough to secure a victory as Durbell held on until the final whistle to shut them out.
Durbanville-Bellville 30 (17): Tries - Danwel Demas, Marius White, Marnus Hugo. Conversions - Raymond Olivier (3). Penalties - Raymond Olivier (3).
Jonsson College Rovers 25 (11): Tries - Chris Jordaan, Chris Micklewood, TC Khoza. Conversions - Chris Micklewood (2). Penalties: Chris Micklewood (2).
GAP Management Despatch 25 (13) Vaseline Wanderers 14 (14)
GAP Management Despatch got their clash against Vaseline Wanderers off to a firing start as left wing Selwyn Davids used his raw pace and fantastic skill to dance his way through the defence for a 5-0 lead in the 5th minute.
Vaseline Wanderers fought back after a few tight exchanges thanks to their forwards with flank Dylan Rutherford forcing his way over the try-line from a pick-and-drive, and with the successful conversion they took a 7-5 lead.
Despatch hooker Stephan Deyzel, however, crashed over the try-line in the 19th minute for their second try.
Wanderers were dealt a blow in the 22nd minute as Rutherford was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle, but despite this they managed to add to their score thanks to a try by scrumhalf Wesley Flanagan, who spotted a gap and dashed through to the try-line to hand the team a four-point lead.
Despatch flyhalf Francois Nel, however, closed the gap to 14-13 in the dying seconds of the first half with a penalty.
The second half was a hard grind as the teams threw everything at each other, but Despatch took advantage of their point-scoring chances, as they added two more tries to secure a 25-14 victory. They supported this with a solid defensive effort, which left Wanderers scoreless in the half.
GAP Management Despatch 25 (13): Tries - Francois Nel, Morné Labuschagne, Selvyn Davids, Stephan Deyzel. Conversions - Justin Peach. Penalties - Francois Nel.
Vaseline Wanderers 14 (14): Tries - Dylan Rutherford, Wesley Flanagan. Conversions - Craig Kolarik (2).
Rustenburg Impala vs Pretoria Police
Defending champions Rustenburg Impala stamped their authority in the first minute against Pretoria Police with a try by centre Aubrey McDonald who hung back on attack and gathered the ball in space.
This earned them a 5-0 lead. Pretoria Police hit back with a penalty, but a converted try by Rustenburg Impala right wing Morne Jooste who dashed up the right wing, forced the hosts into a 13-3 lead.
The teams were reduced to 14 players a side in the 13th minute as McDonald was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle, while Pretoria Police centre Heinrich Rademeyer received a yellow card for charging into a ruck.
Rustenburg Impala added a penalty to their score to build a seven-point lead going into the second quarter. Impala flyhalf Cecil Dumond added their third try in the 31st minute thanks to a dummy pass after receiving the ball out wide following several phases, which handed the hosts a 20-6 lead.
Pretoria Police, however, clawed their way back into the match with a late try by right wing Ruan van Loo to reduce their deficit to 20-13 at the break.
Pretoria Police built on this momentum early in the second half as wing Michael Nienaber scored another five-pointer, which allowed them to level the scores at 20-20. Rustenburg Impala strung together several phases in the following exchanges and earned the rewards as No8 Leon du Plessis crossed the try-line to edge them back into the lead. The final quarter was hard-fought as the teams refused to give an inch, and Pretoria Police scored a valuable penalty shortly before the final quarter to trail by only four points.
A yellow card for Pretoria Police scrumhalf Hendrik van der Nest for stamping on an opposition player’s hand at a ruck, however, reduced them to 14 men at a critical stage of the match. Rustenburg Impala almost sealed the victory with an intercept try five minutes from time, but a tip tackle by wing Dumisani Matyeshana resulted in the try being reversed and the player receiving a yellow card.
This bolstered Pretoria Police’s confidence and they scored a try with two minutes to go thanks to replacement back Elvis Noludwe, which nudged them ahead 28-27. A penalty on the stroke of fulltime by Impala’s Wilco De Wet, however, snatched a 30-28 victory at the death.
Rustenburg Impala 30 (20): Tries - Aubrey McDonald , Cecil Dumond, Leon du Plessis. Conversions - Morné Jooste, Willie Kok (2). Penalties - Cecil Dumond, Willie Kok (2).
Pretoria Police: 28 (13): Tries – Elvis Noludwe, Michael Nienaber, Ruan van Loo. Conversions – Dillon Laubscher (2). Penalties – Dillan Laubscher (3).
Cell C Community Cup Day 2 Fixtures (Saturday, 4 April):
10h00 – Vaseline Wanderers v Jonsson College Rovers
12h00 - Wesbank v Pretoria Police
14h00 - GAP Management Despatch v Durbell (semifinal)
16h00 - Hamiltons v Rustenburg Impala (semifinal)