In what could prove to be one of most nail-biting FNB Varsity Cup matches, FNB UCT held on for a 28-31 narrow victory against FNB UWC on Monday at the UWC Sports Stadium.
The home side gave a packed stadium much hope when Gilroy Philander opened the scoring in the second minute for his side's first try, a seven-pointer which Keagan Fortune converted for a 9-0 lead. Like a house on fire, the visitors immediately responded and hit their strides, finding excellent rhythm with their pack of forwards. All four opening tries coming via excellent and clinical work done by the hardmen.
Rayno Mapoe was first to score for the visitors. Mapoe, the younger cousin of Bok centre Lionel, dotted in the corner showing a clean pair of heels.
The Mapoe score sparked and inspired the visitors, with tries coming from David Meihuizen, James MacDonald and veteran hooker Cuan Hablutzel. Hablutzel scored his 14th Varsity Cup career try which James Tedder converted after failing all his previous attempts.
The two-time Varsity Cup champions jumped ahead on the scoreboard adding daylight between them and their hosts, 22-12. This was also to be the half-time score.
The visitors came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, adding their first poin-of-origin try when Michael Brink dotted down in the corner, Tedder adding the extras for a healthy 31-12 scoreline.
Interestingly, it was an evening of disallowed tries, three to be exact, which were either adjudged to have been knocked-on or a forward pass in the build up leading to the try.
Lundi Msenge ghosted the defense when he ran in for the home side's second seven-point try. Unfortunately for the hosts, Fortune missed the conversion from up against the touchline to leave the scoreboard reading 31-19 in UCT's favour.
Msenge showed why he could be one of the dangerous players in this competition. The leftwinger stepped his way from deep within his own 22, to dot down under the poles. This time Fortune did add the extras and now UCT's lead was only three points 31-28, with 11 minutes to go.
This set up an exciting build up to an exciting finish, with UWC camping on their own try line for nearly the full last ten minutes. The Ikey Tigers failing to seal it despite enjoying all the possession.
A potential try-saving tackle by replacement scrumhalf Liam Kloosman allowed the visitors to keep their unbeaten streak in tact. Nonetheless, the very brave effort by the UWC chargeswill send a strong message that they are not going to give up their Varsity Cup status without a fight.
FNB Player That Rocks: David Meihuizen (FNB UCT)
Steers Kinging Moment: Lundi Msenge (FNB UWC)
FNB UWC: 28 (12)
Tries: Gilroy Philander (point-of-origin), Lundi Msenge 2 (2 point-of-origin)
Conversions: Keagan Fortune 2
Penalty: Keagan Fortune
FNB UCT: 31 (22)
Tries: Rayno Mapoe, David Meihuizen, James MacDonald, Cuan Hablutzel, Michael Brink (point-of-origin)
Conversions: James Tedder 2
FNB UWC: 15 Gilroy Philander, 14 Peter Williams, 13 Schalk Carstens, 12 Lyle Hendricks, 11 Lundi Msenge, 10 Keagan Fortune, 9 Clayton Daniels, 8 Adriaan Paarwater, 7 Godfrey Muzanargwo, 6 Tinotenda Mavesere, 5 Curtly Thomas, 4 Pieter-Steyl Swanepoel, 3 Dandré Degenaar, 2 Jacques van Zyl (captain), 1 Luvo Bazi.
Replacements: 16 Jason Alexander, 17 Justin Theys , 18 Matthew le Roux, 19 Reece Bocks, 20 Branden de Kock, 21 Darren Jaftha, 22 Tiaan Henecke, 23 Keon Links.
Coach: Lionel Langenhoven
FNB UCT: 15 James Tedder, 14 Sebastian Roodt, 13 Liam Furniss, 12 Michael Brink , 11 Rayno Mapoe, 10 James MacDonald, 9 Kyle Bowman, 8 Busanda Mabena, 7 Niel Otto (captain), 6 Nama Xaba, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Byron Bowes, 3 Ashwyn Adams, 2 Cuan Hablutzel, 1 Gugu Nelani.
Replacements: 16 Josh van Vuuren, 17 Devon Arendse, 18 Luthando Woji, 19 Byron Cranswick, 20 Christian Stehlik, 21 Liam Kloosman, 22 Damian Rawstorne, 23 Siba Mzanywa.
Coach: Tom Dawson-Squibb