FNB Varsity Shield
Migcobo Bovu scored a late intercept try to boost the FNB UFH Blues to a shock 16-14 win over FNB CPUT in Bellville on Friday.
FNB CPUT appeared to be in control in the final stages, until the inside centre intercepted a loose pass and raced more than 80m to score.
Keith Chiwara’s conversion allowed the visitors to claim the lead, and ultimately the victory. As a result, the Blues will remain at the top of the FNB Varsity Shield log.
FNB UFH dedicated the win to their director of rugby, Elliot Fana, who tragically died in a car accident on 22 March.
The reigning champions backed their running game in the initial stages, but enjoyed limited success against a physical and well-organised Fort Hare defence.
The visitors bossed the scrums, and in spite of the windy conditions, Chiwara managed to convert this set-piece dominance into points. FNB UFH led 9-7 at half-time.
The battle at the breakdowns and collisions was particularly fierce. While they copped a hiding at the scrums, FNB CPUT showed plenty of fight at the tackle to repel the Blues after the break.
Fullback Caine Stadler finished a sweeping attacking move in the corner, and a touchline conversion by flyhalf Feghorn-Leigh Snyders gave the hosts a five-point lead going into the final quarter.
Immediately after conceding seven points, the Blues copped their second yellow card of the match. Flank Rodney Chikamhi was sent to the sin bin for a head-butt.
FNB CPUT enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the final 20 minutes. Christopher Andrews looked to have scored the match-winning try, but the TMO ruled that the wing had failed to ground the ball.
Following Bovu’s intercept and Chiwara’s conversion, there was further drama as FNB UFH conceded a penalty after the hooter. The long-range attempt by Snyders, however, was wide of the posts.
Fort Hare have now extended their winning streak to five matches.
In the first match of the day, left wing Devandre Adendorf scored a brace to help the FNB UKZN Impi beat FNB Rhodes 29-21.
The Impi started the game with a powerful wind at their backs. They failed to capitalise on that advantage, however, and were guilty of poor handling and worse discipline during the first half.
The Stallions eventually escaped their own territory and finished the first stanza with an 11-7 lead. Their determination was best illustrated by replacement prop Athenkosi Nkewana, who repelled several defenders to score an important try before the break.
FNB UKZN proceeded to up the tempo and the intensity in the second half and earned some reward when Adendorf touched down for his first try.
They continued to attack FNB Rhodes at the scrum, and it was from the back of this set piece that No 8 Tinotenda Mazhindu powered over the line to put his team in charge.
The Stallions refused to accept defeat. Fullback Jano Roux intercepted a loose pass by the Impi and raced the length of the field to regain the lead.
FNB UKZN didn’t panic, though, and continued to win penalties at the scrum. Further tries by Adendorf and inside centre Gacula Poswa secured the win and the bonus point.
When outside centre Jarryd Nicholls converted Poswa’s try, he stretched the Impi's lead to eight points.
Roux had the chance to kick a late penalty – and earn his team a losing bonus point – but the attempt drifted wide.
In the final fixture of the day, the FNB WSU All Blacks ground out a 19-5 win against FNB DUT.
FNB WSU scored 22 tries in their 136-11 thrashing of tournament debutants FNB DUT in the opening match of last year’s FNB Varsity Shield.
However, FNB DUT have improved tremendously since 2021, beating FNB Rhodes in their opening match of the 2022 campaign. And on Friday night, the Durbanites made their Eastern Cape opponents work hard for their win.
FNB WSU dominated possession in the first quarter, but had to wait until the 18th minute to open the scoring when flank Ayabulela Zono beat four defenders on his way to the tryline.
The All Blacks extended their lead to 12-0 late in the half when left wing Tebogo Madigoe’s try in the right corner was converted by flyhalf Lisolethu Valisi.
FNB DUT pushed hard for a try in first-half stoppage time and would have been aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty for an apparent late tackle after the ball had been kicked ahead.
Fullback Lwandile Mapuko scored FNB WSU’s third try at the end of the third quarter, before FNB DUT finally got on a board through lock Alberth Kapenda with nine minutes remaining.
However, for all their efforts, FNB DUT missed out on a losing bonus point and remain bottom of the combined 2021-2022 FNB Varsity Shield log, two points behind FNB Rhodes. The team that finishes last on this log will drop out of the tournament at the end of the season.
FNB WSU, meanwhile, are fourth on the 2022 log and heading for the semi-finals.
FNB Varsity Shield Round 5 results and scorers:
FNB UKZN Impi 29 (7) – Tries: Nhlakanipho Mathonsi, Devandre Adendorf (2), Tinotenda Mazhindu, Gacula Poswa. Conversions: Dawro Kock, Jarryd Nicholls. FNB Rhodes 21 (11) – Tries: Athenkosi Nkewana, Jano Roux. Conversion: Jano Roux. Penalties: Roux (3). FNB Player That Rocks: Jano Roux (FNB Rhodes)
FNB CPUT 14 (7) – Tries: Christopher Andrews, Caine Stadler. Conversions: Feghorn-Leigh Snyders (2). FNB UFH Blues 16 (9) – Try: Migcobo Bovu. Conversion: Keith Chiwara. Penalties: Chiwara (3). FNB Player That Rocks: Caine Stadler (FNB CPUT)
FNB WSU All Blacks 19 (12) – Try: Ayabulela Zono, Bubele Gongqa, Lwandile Mapuko. Conversions: Lisolethu Valisi (2). FNB DUT 5 (0) – Try: Alberth Kapenda. FNB Player That Rocks: Lwandile Mapuko (FNB WSU All Blacks)
Round 6 fixtures (Sunday, 3 April):
FNB Rhodes vs FNB WSU All Blacks (15:00, SuperSport channel 207)
FNB DUT vs FNB TUT Vikings (17:00, SuperSport channel 207)
FNB CPUT vs FNB UKZN Impi (19:00, SuperSport channel 207)
Photos: Luigi Bennett/Asem Engage