FNB CPUT retain FNB Varsity Shield crown in extra-time thriller

FNB Varsity Shield

Winger Nathan Nkutu scored a late extra-time try as FNB CPUT beat FNB WSU 30-26 in the FNB Varsity Shield final at Tuks Stadium on Sunday.

The All Blacks had fought back from 23-6 down midway through the second half to draw level after 66 minutes. FNB WSU captain Litha Nkula then missed two late penalty goal attempts to win it, with the game going into extra time.

Nkula was on target with a penalty in the first half of extra time but it was Nkutu who snatched victory for FNB CPUT with a 99th-minute try.

It took five minutes of this match for the defending champions to show off their attacking prowess as they faked a driving maul to send the pass out wide to wing Asisipho Malotana, who threw off a tackle to touch down. Flyhalf Feghon-Leigh Snyders missed the extras but did add a penalty six minutes later to make it a two-score game. 

The Tekkies were dealt a blow when hooker Siyasanga Ngubelanga was shown a yellow card for repeated team infringements but their defence proved solid as a rock as the All Blacks could only land two penalties via the boot of Nkula.

Lock Mogamat Ameer Hendricks then scored FNB CPUT's second try from a charged down kick as they took a 15-6 lead into the break.

Snyders upped the ante for the Tekkies in the second half, crossing for a brilliant five-pointer before knocking over a clutch drop goal minutes later.

The All Blacks finally secured their first try just after the second strategy break when wing Sakhele Ngeno raced over the chalk so quickly that he had trouble stopping to actually score. Nkula had no issues in converting. 

FNB CPUT lost Mputa to a yellow card in the 62nd minute and the All Blacks did not need to RSVP to the party as Nkula slotted his third penalty before scrumhalf Eric Mcaphukana dotted down from a dominant 5m scrum. Nkula's conversion levelled the scores to ensure a spicy hot final 10 minutes. 

After a disallowed try to Nkula – who was penalised for kicking the ball out of an FNB WSU player's hands – and Nkula's two late penalty misses, the final was forced into two, 10-minute extra-time halves.

Nkula slotted a penalty within three minutes, but it was Nkutu who would determine the defending champions' fortune, racing into the right-hand corner to score the match-winner. 

Snyders added the conversion as the Tekkies successfully defended their 2019 title after last year's tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A round of applause must be given to the four players – Mputa, inside centre Lunathi Nxele, Hendricks and replacement flank Phumlani Mkhaliphi – who all featured in their last match for the Tekkies.

FNB Player That Rocks: Nathan Nkutu (FNB CPUT)

FNB CPUT – Tries: Asisipho Malotana, Mogamat Ameer Hendricks, Feghon-Leigh Snyders, Nathan Nkutu. Conversions: Snyders (2). Penalty: Snyders. Drop goal: Snyders.
FNB WSU All Blacks – Tries: Sakhele Ngeno, Eric Mcaphukana. Conversions: Litha Nkula (2). Penalties: Nkula (4).

Photo gallery

FNB CPUT – 15 Raven Chester Smith, 14 Asisipho Malotana, 13 Jurick Lewis, 12 Lunathi Nxele, 11 Nathan Nkutu, 10 Feghon-Leigh Snyders, 9 Hugan Engelbrecht, 8 Sesona Macala, 7 Ché Klaasen, 6 Butsha Mputa (c), 5 Roland van der Heever, 4 Mogamat Ameer Hendricks, 3 Matthew Coenraad, 2 Siyasanga Ngubelanga, 1 Dé-Angelo Williams.
Subs: 16 Damian Isaacs, 17 Onika Mgijima, 18 Jacques-Lynn Josephus, 19 Bradley van Boven, 20 Phumlani Mkhaliphi, 21 Cuan Maree, 22 Bjorkan Hendricks, 23 Imibongo Vabaza.

FNB WSU All Blacks – 15 Litha Nkula (c), 14 Sakhele Ngeno, 13 Sicelo Tole, 12 Thembani Kori, 11 Tebogo Madigoe, 10 Lwandile Mapuko, 9 Eric Mcaphukana, 8 Adri Kermis, 7 Ayabulela Zono, 6 Siphosihle Magawu, 5 Hlomla Payi, 4 Asekho Marubelela, 3 Siyasanga Dingezweni, 2 Zanokuhle Nkabi, 1 Xolani Jacobs.
Subs: 16 Nande Lucas, 17 Lindokuhle Seteni, 18 Miyelani Ngobeni, 19 Khanya Solani, 20 Lithemba Ngcetane, 21 Lisolethu Valisi, 22 Asivile Ngcawe, 23 S'bulelo Roji.

Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Varsity Cup