FNB Varsity Cup
Centre Suleiman Hartzenberg scored two late tries as the FNB UCT Ikeys claimed a thrilling 44-27 victory over arch-rivals FNB Maties in the 500th FNB Varsity Cup match.
The big Cape derby – as well the historic occasion – certainly lived up to the hype.
In spite of cold and windy conditions on the Green Mile, both sides played the game at a lively tempo and dotted down for a point-of-origin try within the first 10 minutes.
From there, the FNB Maties forwards began to impose themselves at the gainline. The hosts battled to cope with the physicality of the Maroon Machine and conceded penalty after penalty.
Scrumhalf William Rose was shown a yellow card for poor discipline in the 13th minute.
Tighthead prop Vernon Matongo showed terrific skill and determination to finish a try shortly before half-time. A conversion and a subsequent penalty by fullback Nevaldo Fleurs ensured that the visitors went to the break with a 17-10 lead.
True to form, the Ikey Tigers came out firing in the second stanza. Tries by replacements Imad Khan and Mika Schubert kept them in the contest, as did the boot of fullback Duran Koervort.
Just when it appeared as if FNB Maties might regain control, Hartzenberg received the ball in space and raced more than 50m to score a point-of-origin try.
Koevort’s conversion propelled the hosts into an eight-point lead with eight minutes remaining.
FNB Maties struggled to control possession in the dying stages. When FNB UCT received one final opportunity, however, Hartzenberg accelerated past the exhausted defenders to score his second try and seal the result.
Earlier in the day, FNB UWC scored a 44-38 bonus-point win in Cape Town, but allowed the FNB CUT Ixias to claim two valuable log points from the fixture.
FNB UWC came into this match needing a victory to avoid certain relegation to the FNB Varsity Shield. From the outset, they adopted a more pragmatic approach, relying on their powerful pack and the accurate kicking of captain Lyle Hendricks to create pressure and opportunities.
The Ixias battled to cope at the set pieces and collisions. Lock Ulrich Stander was shown a yellow card in the 30th minute after his team committed one transgression too many.
Prop Haniel du Toit then crashed over for his second try – and FNB UWC’s fourth. At that stage, the hosts looked to be on course for a comfortable win.
The Ixias punished FNB UWC’s poor management thereafter and proceeded to score two tries before the break. At half-time, FNB UWC held a 28-14 lead.
The visitors continued to fight back in the second stanza. When lock Matthew Sekele powered over for his second try of the game, the Ixias were suddenly in a position to claim valuable log points from the fixture.
Somewhat inevitably, FNB CUT dotted down for a bonus-point try in the 57th minute. Floris Brand slotted a late penalty to ensure that the visitors picked up a second bonus point for losing by seven points or less.
With this result, FNB UWC have boosted their tally to 31 points on the combined 2021-22 log. While they trail FNB CUT Ixias by five log points in the combined standings, they are still alive with two rounds to play.
In Pretoria, defending champions FNB UP-Tuks had to work hard for their 39-24 bonus-point win against a plucky FNB Wits team that scored three tries.
Two late penalties by fullback Clyde Lewis, who scored a point-of-origin try in the first half, eventually put the result beyond doubt.
In Potchefstroom, the FNB NWU Eagles ran in eight tries to hammer the already-relegated FNB Madibaz 61-26 and keep their slim semi-final hopes alive.
Two of them were scored by flank Chris Vermaak but it was right wing Pienaar van Niekerk who earned the FNB Player That Rocks award.
To their credit, the FNB Madibaz did score four tries to earn a bonus point.
In Johannesburg, the FNB UFS Shimlas finished strongly to record a 37-26 bonus-point victory against FNB UJ.
The Orange Army led 23-16 at half-time and 26-23 on the hour mark, but ran out of steam in the final quarter as replacements Kwezi Dlamini and Jandré Nel both crossed the line for the visitors.
Varsity Cup Round 7 results and scorers:
FNB UWC 44 (28) – Tries: Aydon Topley, Haniel du Toit (2), Romuald Ntumba (1x7), Mauritz Swart (1x7), Nicholas Chipanje. Conversions: Lyle Hendricks (5). FNB CUT Ixias 38 (5) – Tries: Matthew Sekele (1x7, 1x5). Jacquin van Wyk (1x7), Septimus Derkesen, Albertus Venter. Conversions: Floris Brand (3). Penalty: Brand. FNB Player That Rocks: Nicholas Chipanje (FNB UWC)
FNB UCT Ikeys 44 (10) – Tries: Rihaz Fredericks (1x7), Imad Khan (1x7), Mika Schubert, Suleiman Hartzenberg (2x7). Conversions: Duran Koevort (4). Penalty: Koevort. FNB Maties 27 (17) – Tries: Adriaan van der Bank (1x7), Vernon Matongo, Simon Miller. Conversions: Nevaldo Fleurs (2). Penalties: Fleurs (2). FNB Player That Rocks: Suleiman Hartzenberg (FNB UCT Ikeys)
FNB UP-Tuks 39 (21) – Tries: Bernard van der Linde (1x7), Clyde Lewis (1x7), Kabelo Mokoena, Orateng Koikanyang. Conversions: Walter Visser (3). Penalties: Visser, Lewis (2). FNB Wits 24 (17) – Tries: Dameon Venter, Setshaba Mokoena, Wian de Lange. Conversions: Chris Humphries (2), Keagan Lailvaux. Penalty: Humphries. FNB Player That Rocks: Clyde Lewis (FNB UP-Tuks)
FNB NWU Eagles 61 (33) – Tries: Vernon Paulo, Pienaar van Niekerk (1x7), Gustav Erlank (1x7), Theunis Pretorius, Chris Vermaak (2), André Fouché, Tino Swanepoel (1x7). Conversions: Martin Venter (5), Nivan Petersen. Penalty: Venter. FNB FNB Madibaz 26 (12) – Tries: Kyle Cyster (1x7), Kholiwe Khonza, Jade Stoffels (1x7), Wayne Moss. Conversion: Stoffels. FNB Player That Rocks: Pienaar van Niekerk (FNB NWU Eagles)
FNB UJ 26 (23) – Tries: Mpho Kubheka, Darnell Osuagwu, Musawenkosi Tshabalala (1x7). Conversions: Jonathan Viljoen (3). Penalty: Viljoen. FNB UFS Shimlas 37 (16) – Tries: Asanda Kunene, Zane Bester (1x7), Blaine Golden, Kwezi Dlamini, Jandré Nel. Conversions: Litha Nkula (5). FNB Player That Rocks: George Lourens (FNB UFS Shimlas)
FNB Varsity Cup Round 8 fixtures (4 April):
FNB UWC vs FNB UJ (17:00, UWC Stadium, SuperSport channel 211)
FNB UFS Shimlas vs FNB UP-Tuks (19:00, Shimla Park, SuperSport channel 211)
FNB Maties vs FNB Madibaz (19:00, Danie Craven Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
FNB CUT Ixias vs FNB NWU Eagles (19:00, CUT Rugby Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
FNB Wits vs FNB UCT Ikeys (19:00, Wits Rugby Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
Photos: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Nasief Manie/Catherine Kotze/Barco Greeff/Christiaan Kotze/Asem Engage