FNB UKZN defeated top-of-the log FNB WSU at home in style when they picked up their second victory of the season, 29-15, down in Durban.
The stage was set for a tasty, but unpredictable, battle at the Howard College Stadium on Friday night, and the long-time rivals duly delivered.
For the home team, it was a shot at a top four finish which would guarantee the KZN outfit play-offs. For the visitors, on the other hand, it was to keep a 100% record and a first place finish which would give them a chance to gain promotion into the top tier, the FNB Varsity Cup.
The home team began the match on a high and managed to score early points through a try by their full-back Sibongile Novuka who successfully converted it.
The All Blacks, though, showed why they are the team to beat this season when they displayed swift moves from one wing to the other. This earned them a try by their centre Scelo Tole which they couldn’t convert.
However, Novuka's boot delivered fro UKZN, when the full back slotted a penalty for the hosts to double the talley of their hosts - UKZN 10 WSU 5.
That was shortlived. Tries WSU's Thokzani Ngodwana and Siphosihle Magawu, took the away team to a five-point advantage at halftime, 15-10. Litha Nkula's waywardness from the kicking tee could have made it a significant – if not decisive – lead.
Buoyed by their home fans, the home team opened the second half with a dominant performance which was duly rewarded with a try by Brogan Boulle. Novuka's successful conversion handed the Impi the lead... decisively so.
Novuka‘s dream night continued when as he again found the try-line for the home team, and converted himself, allowing UKZN to begin believing that the upset was on at 24-15 and 20 minutes to go.
With words spoken during the strategy break, WSU tried fighting back but the night looked to be heading in favour of the home team as they could not find the openings they wanted or needed.
The cherry on top, instead, was provided by the Impi captain Wandile Shabangu who scored a try in the last minute of the game. The unsuccessful conversion kick mattered little as the home side claimed a victory which puts them level on points with FNB UFH. UKZN's points difference is worse off, but they have games against the bottom two teams left which should them and their coach Donald Ngwenya with confidence.
WSU, meanwhile, remain top on this season's log... but have ceded advantage to CPUT in the battle for the promotion.
FNB Player That Rocks: Sibongile Novuka (FNB UKZN)
Steers Kinging Moment: Lwandile Mapuko (FNB WSU)
FNB UKZN: 29 (10)
Tries: Sibongile Novuka 2, Brogan Boulle, Wandile Shabangu
Conversions: Sibongile Novuka
Penalties: Sibongile Novuka
FNB WSU: 15 (15)
Tries: Scelo Tole, Siphosihle Magawu, Thokozani Ngodwana
FNB UKZN: 1 Melusi Mthabela, 2 Mfanelo Mhlongo, 3 Phelelani Zuma, 4 Philippus Botha, 5 Luthando Mhlanga, 6 Charl Cuttings, 7 Menzi Mabaso, 8 Byron Booysen, 9 Johan Maritz, 10 Jaundré Kock, 11 Tonderai Ndudzo, 12 Brogan Boulle, 13 Wandile Shabangu (captain), 14 Onke Jiba, 15 Sibongile Novuka.
Replacements: 16 Asiphe Fanele, 17 Lindelwe Cele, 18 Minenhle Ngubane, 19 Mpumalanga Monareng, 20 Sphephelo Mabuza, 21 Lindokuhle Nyirenda, 22 Devandré Adendorff, 23 Linamkele Mcwabeni.
Coach: Donald Ngwenya
FNB WSU: 1 Xolani Jacobs, 2 Thokozani Ngodwana, 3 Xolani Loki, 4 Bonginkosi Ngqushwa, 5 Hlomla Payi, 6 Siphosihle Magawu, 8 Mihlali Mosi (captain), 9 Anathi Shenxane, 10 Lwandile Mapuko, 11 Tebogo Madigoe, 12 Yamkela Nyembe, 13 Scelo Tole, 14 Wanga Shumi, 15 Litha Nkula.
Replacements: 16 Zanokuhle Nkabi, 17 Hlumelo Nondonga, 18 Lwando Zinto, 19 Ayabulela Zono, 20 Phuzukuvela Sithole, 21 Lithemba Ngcetane, 22 Sinegugu Lituka, 23 Luvo Matiwane.
Coach: Akhona Mgijima