FNB Madibaz began their quest for automatic promotion with a 26-5 home victory over FNB UKZN in their FNB Varsity Shield opener on Friday night.
Jarryd Buys’ charges were full value for the win and, crucially, five points in front of a boisterous crowd at Madibaz Stadium – which even included an impromptu Valentine’s Day pitchside proposal.
The foundation for Madibaz’s win was set by forward control, which enabled their backline to stretch their legs. As a result, the hosts dotted down two first half tries through fullback Chadwyn November and leftwing Charles Radebe, both converted by Jordan Koekemoer.
FNB UKZN did reply with a five-pointer of their own, through their scrumhalf Sibonakaliso Dubazana. However, the Impi struggled to get their game going and trailed by 14-5 at half time.
The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, with UKZN being game but not able to match Madibaz’s intensity and quality at crucial moments. Even when Madibaz were reduced to 14 men, when loosehead prop Robert Lyons made a visit to the Afkoelstoel, the Impi couldn’t take advantage.
The hosts, though, did when they had opportunities to cross the whitewash and added further tries through their scrummie Dundré Maritz and late-on from hooker Duan du Plessis, off the bench. Koekemoer converted the second to seal the 26-5 result, with the bonus point for the fourth try securing Madibaz’s top spot on the log after Round 1 – ahead of fellow winners FNB TUT and FNB UFH.
The latter’s surprise win at defending champions FNB CPUT gives Madibaz breathing room over their supposed challengers for automatic promotion this season.
FNB Player That Rocks: Luvo Claassen (FNB Madibaz)
Steers Kinging Award: Kyle Cyster (FNB Madibaz)
FNB Madibaz: 26 (14)
Tries: Chadwyn November, Charles Radebe, Dundré Maritz, Duan du Plessis
Conversions: Jordan Koekemoer 3
FNB UKZN: 5 (5)
Try: Sibonakaliso Dubazana
FNB Madibaz: 1 Robert Lyons, 2 Tembekile Boltina, 3 Le-Kleu Stokes, 4 Reyno du Toit, 5 Ikheteleng Nkhereanye, 6 Dirk Ferreira, 7 Siyamthanda Jwacu, 8 Laken Gray, 9 Dundré Maritz, 10 Luvo Claassen (captain), 11 Charles Radebe, 12 Jordan Koekemoer, 13 Mihlali Nchukana, 14 Luciano Jones, 15 Chadwyn November.
Replacements: 16 Duan du Plessis, 17 Warwick Griffin, 18 Moses Gunda, 19 Libhongolethu Geza, 20 Sibusiso Ngcokovane, 21 Johan Lombard, 22 Kyle Cyster, 23 Likhona Dywili.
Coach: Jarryd Buys
FNB UKZN: 1 Melusi Mthabela, 2 Mfanelo Mhlongo, 3 Phelelani Zuma, 4 Philippus Botha, 5 Luthando Mhlanga, 6 Charl Cuttings, 7 Sphephelo Mabuza, 8 Llawdden Roux, 9 Sibonakaliso Dubazana, 10 Dawro Kock, 11 Tonderai Ndudzo, 12 Gacula Poswa, 13 Wandile Shabangu (captain), 14 Onke Jiba, 15 Sibongile Novuka.
Replacements: 16 Asiphe Fanele, 17 Lindelwe Cele, 18 Minenhle Ngubane, 19 Menzi Mabaso, 20 Sinamava Ntsinde, 21 Johan Maritz, 22 Linamkele Mcwabeni, 23 Ntando Msweli.
Coach: Donald Ngwenya