FNB Varsity Cup
FNB Maties rebounded from a poor start to beat the FNB NWU Eagles 20-12 in round six of the FNB Varsity Cup in Stellenbosch on Monday night.
The contest was an arm-wrestle for much of the first quarter. Eagles captain Sampie Swiegers converted an early opportunity before the hosts responded with a converted try of their own through hooker Sean Swart.
In the 25th minute, outside centre Waqar Solaan seized the initiative for his side when he broke the line and set up fullback Nevaldo Fleurs for a stunning try.
Fleurs slotted the conversion and then two subsequent penalties. Suddenly, FNB Maties were out to a commanding 20-7 lead.
FNB NWU’s attack was hampered by a series of handling errors over the course of the game. Their lineout misfired and their discipline let them down at key moments.
Their scrum, however, kept them in the contest. After earning some reward from this set piece, and after addressing their lineout and mauling woes, they scored another try through Swiegers in the 61st minute.
Replacement flyhalf Martin Venter missed the ensuing conversion and a late penalty attempt. As a result, the Eagles failed to claim so much as a losing bonus point from the fixture.
FNB NWU will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs from here. FNB Maties, however, remain in the hunt for a home semi-final.
Earlier in the day, FNB Wits romped to a 51-12 bonus-point win against FNB UWC in Johannesburg to move out of the relegation zone.
Several teams face a fight for survival in the latter stages of this year’s competition. At the end of the current season, the two-lowest ranked sides on the combined 2021-22 log will be relegated to the FNB Varsity Shield.
FNB Wits will breathe easier after securing a crucial result at Wits Rugby Stadium on Monday. Meanwhile, the pressure will mount on FNB UWC, who remain in the relegation zone.
FNB Wits absorbed a lot of early pressure and then struck from turnover ball. Two point-of-origin tries and two successful conversions boosted the hosts into a commanding 18-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Scrumhalf Hlumelo Ndudula scored a second try thereafter, while halfback partner Chris Humphries secured the team’s four-try bonus point on the stroke of half-time.
The tempo of the FNB Wits attack wreaked havoc upon the visitors’ defence.
The hosts maintained their intensity after the break to surpass the half-century mark. Humphries finished the contest with a haul of 20 points.
In Gqeberha, FNB UJ recorded a well-deserved 24-9 win against the FNB Madibaz.
Two early converted tries by hooker Darnell Osuagwu gave the visitors a 14-0 lead, which is how it stayed until the start of the third quarter when flyhalf Jonathan Viljoen kicked a penalty goal.
Replacement flank Philip Apea-Adu scored the Orange Army’s third try of the night in the 64th minute but they were unable to get another for the bonus point.
Instead, it was fullback Kyle Cyster who got the FNB Madibaz on the board with a consolation point-of-origin try.
In Pretoria, No 8 Divan Venter scored two of FNB UP-Tuks’ nine tries as they thrashed the winless FNB CUT Ixias 61-12.
The defending FNB Varsity Cup champions are fourth on the log, with four wins from six matches, while FNB CUT remain last.
On Tuesday, FNB UFS Shimlas scored eight tries in their 58-7 demolition of the FNB UCT Ikeys.
This clash was postponed due to bad weather in Bloemfontein on Monday night.
While the skies cleared on Tuesday morning ahead of the 9am kick-off, the field was wet and players on both sides struggled to adapt to the conditions.
FNB UFS Shimlas were the first to adjust, though, and a sustained assault yielded three tries in the first half alone.
The Ikey Tigers had little possession during this period. Poor handling and passing, however, resulted in several promising plays breaking down.
The hosts maintained their intensity into the second half. No 8 Ruwald van der Merwe crashed over to secure the bonus point and put his side firmly in charge of the contest.
From there, Shimlas moved into high gear and added a further four tries.
A consolation score for FNB UCT at the end added little respectability to the scoreline.
Varsity Cup Round 6 results and scorers:
FNB Wits 51 (35) – Tries: Hlumelo Ndudula (1x7, 1x5), Luhle Matyolweni (2x7), Chris Humphries, Wian de Lange. Conversions: Humphries (6). Penalty: Humphries. FNB UWC 12 (3) – Try: Romuald Ntumba (1x7). Conversion: Lyle Hendricks. Penalty: Hendricks. FNB Player That Rocks: Azi Afrika (FNB Wits)
FNB Maties 20 (20) – Tries: Sean Swart, Nevaldo Fleurs. Conversions: Fleurs (2). Penalties (2). FNB NWU Eagles 12 (7) – Tries: Sampie Swiegers (2). Conversion: Nivan Petersen. FNB Player That Rocks: Juan Beukes (FNB Maties)
FNB UP-Tuks 61 (33) – Tries: Ethan Burger, Divan Venter (1x5, 1x7), Kabelo Mokoena, Stephen Smit, Tharquinn Manuel (1x7), Werner Fourie, Orateng Koikanyang, Mihlali Stamper (1x7). Conversions: Clyde Lewis (2), Walter Visser (3). FNB CUT Ixias 12 (7) – Tries: Jan Kotze, Matthew Sekele. Conversion: Zinedene Booysen. FNB Player That Rocks: Kabelo Mokoena (FNB UP-Tuks)
FNB Madibaz 9 (0) – Tries: Kyle Cyster (1x7). Conversion: Siphosethu Dlongodlongo. FNB UJ 24 (14) – Tries: Darnell Osuagwu (2), Philip Apea-Adu. Conversions: Jonathan Viljoen (3). Penalty: Viljoen. FNB Player That Rocks: Mpho Kubheka (FNB UJ)
FNB UFS Shimlas 58 (17) – Tries: Lourens Oosthuizen, Zane Bester (1x5, 1x7), Pierre Uys, Ruwald van der Merwe, Litha Nkula (1x7), Janco van Heiningen (1x7), Blaine Golden. Conversions: Nkula (4), George Lourens (2). FNB UCT Ikeys 7 (0) – Try: Matthew Hamilton. Conversion: Duran Koevort. FNB Player That Rocks: George Lourens (FNB Shimlas)
FNB Varsity Cup Round 7 fixtures (28 March):
FNB UWC vs FNB CUT (17:00, UWC Stadium, SuperSport channel 211)
FNB UCT Ikeys vs FNB Maties (19:00, UCT Rugby Fields, SuperSport channel 211)
FNB UP-Tuks vs FNB Wits (19:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
FNB NWU Eagles vs FNB Madibaz (19:00, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds, SuperSport Schools App)
FNB UJ vs FNB UFS Shimlas (19:00, UJ Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
Photos: Luigi Bennett/Abbey Sebetha/Catherine Kotze/Ian Fairley/ASEM Engage