FNB UCT Ikeys and the FNB NWU Eagles kicked off their 2021 FNB Varsity Cup campaigns with impressive wins at Tuks Stadium on Monday, while FNB UWC and FNB Shimlas played to a thrilling draw.
FNB NWU EAGLES 47 (19) FNB MADIBAZ 28 (11)
All eyes were on the FNB Madibaz upon their return to the FNB Varsity Cup and they gave a good account of themselves against the highly-rated FNB NWU Eagles, writes Bronwen Bain.
FNB Madibaz struck first in the scorching Pretoria heat when they sent the ball wide to winger Khakalethu Bophi, who dotted down in the corner. FNB NWU Eagles responded through promising centre Conan Le Fleur, who scored a try on his FNB Varsity Cup debut, and flyhalf Marco Donges’ conversion edged them ahead 7-5 midway through the first half.
FNB NWU Eagles hooker Gustav du Rand scored the first of his two tries from a clever lineout move that saw the ball returned to him, and when winger Pienaar van Niekerk ran in another try, the Potchefstroom side led 19-8.
FNB Madibaz flyhalf Christiaan Schutte’s second penalty, just before half-time, kept his team in the game, and they struck again straight after the break when flank Arnouw Nel barged his way over the line.
Du Rand then went over for his second try, before FNB Madibaz captain Luyolo Dapula scored his team’s third.
But two tries in quick succession from FNB NWU Eagles debutants Ruben Dreyer and Meyer Kriel (the latter’s a seven-pointer) made the game safe for their side at 40-21.
Replacement Chadwin November scored a well-deserved bonus-point try for the FNB Madibaz, with the FNB NWU Eagles grabbing their seventh on the stroke of full-time via Riaan Genis.
FNB Player That Rocks: Gustav du Rand (FNB NWU Eagles)
FNB NWU Eagles – Tries: Conan Le Fleur, Gustav du Rand (2), Pienaar van Niekerk, Ruben Dreyer, Meyer Kriel (1x7), Riaan Genis. Conversions: Marco Donges, Le Fleur, Keagan Fortune (3).
FNB NMU Madibaz – Tries: Khakalethu Bophi, Arnouw Nel, Luyolo Dapula, Kholiwe Khonza. Conversion: Chadwyn November. Penalties: Christiaan Schutte (2).
FNB UWC 28 (23) FNB UFS SHIMLAS 28 (14)
FNB UFS Shimlas tried as they might to snatch victory at the death but had to settle for a 28-28 draw with FNB UWC, writes Dan Lombard.
FNB UWC and FNB UFS Shimlas both went into the match sporting new coaches in Paul Treu (former Blitzboks coach) and Pote Human (former Bulls coach) yet nerves seemed to be settled as their experience shone through once the opening minutes worth of teething problems ticked past.
Udubs opened the scoring in the most blistering of fashions as outside centre Aydon Topley swooped in to score a try on debut which flyhalf Mikyle Vraagom converted with ease.
Their Bloemfontein counterparts managed to string a few phases together, which paid out in a try, only for the TMO to disallow it due to a foot in touch.
It became apparent after the first strategy break that FNB UWC were going to attack from everywhere and fullback Gilroy Philander capitalised on this mentality with two point-of-origin tries, including a spectacular dive over the whitewash to beat his defender by mere millimetres.
The 10 minutes before and after half-time showcased two scintillating tries, with Shimlas inside centre Janco Klinck bagging a point-of-origin try that saw the hands of several of his teammates before ending in his breadbasket, while Udubs took only four minutes post half-time to score their bonus-point try courtesy of wing Lundi Msenge.
A common thread throughout the match was large periods of both teams struggling to threaten the scoreboard as play was contained largely between the two red zones.
The final 20 minutes were dominated by FNB UFS Shimlas. Debutant Pierre Uys scored his second try before replacement loose forward George Rossouw's seven-pointer earned them a bonus point and levelled the scores.
Flyhalf Ethan Wentzel missed the conversion of Rossouw’s try and a late penalty goal attempt, while replacement JP Duvenage was also off-target for FNB UFS Shimlas as both teams had to settle for a draw.
FNB Player That Rocks: Gilroy Lee Philander (FNB UWC)
FNB UWC – Tries: Aydon Topley, Gilroy Lee Philander (2x7), Lundi Msenge. Conversions: Mikyle Vraagom (2).
UFS Shimlas – Tries: Pierre Uys (2), Janco Klinck (1x7), George Rossouw (1x7). Conversions: Ethan Wentzel (3).
FNB UCT IKEYS 26 (16) FNB MATIES 20 (7)
FNB UCT Ikeys claimed their first win against their arch-rivals in six matches and ended FNB Maties’ 25-match winning streak in the FNB Varsity Cup, writes Bronwen Bain.
In a game plagued by more yellow cards than tries, flyhalf James Tedder got FNB UCT Ikeys off to an emphatic start when his cross-kick was chased down by scrumhalf-turned-wing Liam Kloosman, who scored in the corner. Tedder missed the conversion but added a penalty to make it 8-0.
Ikeys' elation was short-lived, though, as lock Matthew Grobler and prop Robert Hunt were yellow-carded in quick succession. FNB Maties took full advantage when captain David Brits scored a converted try, but Tedder slotted a penalty while his side was down to 13 men to make it 11-7.
On the stroke of half-time, lock Simon Miller was handed FNB Maties' first yellow card and FNB UCT Ikeys hooker Devon Arendse scored from a lineout driving maul.
After FNB UCT Ikeys winger Rethabile Louw and FNB Maties flank Matthys Kitshoff had received the fourth and fifth yellow cards of the night, No 8 Christian Stehlik scored from a powerful Ikeys scrum. Tedder nailed the conversion and a mammoth penalty to make it 26-13.
FNB UCT Ikeys’ fourth yellow card, for replacement hooker Josh van Vuuren, was followed by a converted try for FNB Maties flank Mitchell Carstens.
FNB Maties pushed hard for a match-winning try in stoppage time, but FNB UCT Ikeys were able to hang on for a well-deserved win.
FNB Player That Rocks: James Tedder (FNB UCT)
FNB UCT – Tries: Liam Kloosman, Devon Arendse, Christian Stehlik. Conversion: James Tedder. Penalties: Tedder (3).
FNB Maties – Tries: David Brits, Mitchell Carstens. Conversions: Nevaldo Fleurs (2). Penalties: Fleurs (2).
After a two-day tournament break, the FNB Varsity Cup will resume on Thursday, 8 April with five matches across two venues.
Loftus Versfeld Stadium will host three matches – FNB Madibaz vs FNB CUT (15:00), FNB Wits vs FNB UCT Ikeys (17:00) and FNB UFS Shimlas vs FNB NWU Eagles (19:00). These will be broadcast live on the SuperSport Rugby channel (211).
The other two matches in Round 2 – FNB Maties vs FNB UWC (14:00) and FNB UJ vs FNB UP-Tuks (16:00) will be played on the Tuks B-Field and streamed live on DStv Now (channel 245).
Photos: Christiaan Kotze/Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup