There were wins for the FNB TUT Vikings, FNB UKZN Impi and FNB Rhodes in the final round of the FNB Varsity Shield at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
FNB TUT VIKINGS 64 (38) FNB WSU ALL BLACKS 8 (8)
FNB TUT ended their best-ever FNB Varsity Shield campaign on a high as they ran in nine tries to beat this year’s finalists FNB WSU, writes Dan Lombard.
Having already secured a spot in Sunday's final against FNB CPUT, the All Blacks opted to rest 13 first-choice players, which made it somewhat easier for FNB TUT.
Take nothing away from the Vikings – who finished third on the log with five wins from six matches – but an FNB WSU team operating at full capacity is no easy affair as the understrength Tekkies found out in the penultimate round.
Thus the men from Pretoria were able to assert themselves from the get-go and by the time the first strategy break was blown, they had racked up a commanding lead with tries to prop Goabaona Mokone (after just 34 seconds) and flyhalf Lusanda Xakwana, with Xakwana adding two conversions and a penalty.
FNB WSU pulled back a try courtesy of outside centre Mbulelo Totose to add to fullback Sakhele Ngeno's earlier penalty goal.
This did little to halt FNB TUT's onslaught as hooker Laro Delport crossed the chalk, before wing Wanga Shumi and outside centre Franco Stassen touched down for tries four and five respectively.
Xakwana converted both to increase their lead to 38-8 at the break.
The second half saw a continuation of the first’s status quo as Stassen bagged his brace before wing Vuyani Vanqa and replacement loose forward Nyakallo Masitha forced their way over the whitewash.
FNB TUT certainly played until the final whistle as Delport secured his brace in stoppage time and Xakwana added the extras to finish with a 24-point haul.
FNB Player That Rocks: Lusanda Xakwana (FNB TUT Vikings)
FNB TUT Vikings – Tries: Goabaona Mokone, Lusanda Xakwana, Laro Delport (2), Wanga Shumi, Franco Stassen (2), Vuyani Vanqa, Nyakallo Masitha. Conversions: Xakwana (8). Penalty: Xakwana. FNB WSU All Blacks – Try: Mbulelo Totose. Penalty: Sakhele Ngeno.
FNB UKZN IMPI 40 (17) FNB UFH BLUES 33 (12)
The FNB UKZN Impi secured fourth place on the FNB Varsity Shield log by beating the fifth-placed FNB UFH Blues, writes Bronwen Bain.
The Impi were outscored by five tries to four but four penalty goals from fullback Sibongile Novuka helped them claim a third win of the campaign.
The Blues were dealt an early blow in this match when they lost inside centre Lethukuthula Mthethwa to injury.
FNB UKZN drew first blood when flanker Carl Cuttings finished off a fantastic team try, before FNB UFH scrumhalf Merlin du Plessis scored at the other end of the field.
Novuka’s first penalty was followed by winger Jarryd Nicholls’ converted try in the right corner after an impressive offload from replacement loose forward Llawdden Roux to make it 17-5.
FNB UFH finally turned their possession into points when winger Lukho Jongizulu forced his way over the tryline just before half-time.
Roux got his name on the scoresheet early in the second half but the Blues then responded through captain Yamkela Mzozoyana.
FNB UFH were reduced to 14 men after outside centre Jonathan Booysen was yellow-carded for a high tackle, and the Impi scored 13 points in his absence – through scrumhalf Johan Maritz’s try and a conversion and two penalties from Novuka – to take a 37-19 lead.
Despite being a man down, FNB UFH got their second wind after the strategy break and Fields snuck through the defence to score a self-converted try.
Flanker Kamvelihle Fatyela kept the Blues’ hopes alive when he rounded off a good team attack, with the conversion reducing the deficit to just four points.
But Novuka then kicked his fourth penalty of the match, before Booysen was handed his second yellow card – followed by a red – at the death for another high tackle.
FNB Player That Rocks: Azakhiwe Afrika (FNB UKZN Impi)
FNB UKZN Impi – Tries: Charl Cuttings, Jarryd Nicholls, Llawdden Roux, Johan Maritz. Conversions: Sibongile Novuka (4). Penalties: Sibongile Novuka (4). FNB UFH Blues – Tries: Merlin du Plessis, Lukho Jongizulu, Yamkela Mzozoyana, Brandt Fields, Kamvelihle Fatyela. Conversions: Brandt Fields (4).
FNB DUT RHINOS 3 (3) FNB RHODES 46 (15)
FNB Rhodes broke a 13-match losing streak in the FNB Varsity Cup after finding their feet in the final quarter of their meeting against FNB DUT, writes Dan Lombard.
The Stallions, facing the Rhinos for the first time, were dominant in the first half. However, they did struggle to put points on the board after scoring their opening try in the second minute courtesy of wing Cameron Marais. The Rhinos could only add a penalty goal three minutes later via the boot of fullback Nelson Mhlongo.
Proceedings subsequently dwindled into a scrappy affair as both teams misfired on attack and were left frustrated. FNB Rhodes finally broke the deadlock when they scored two quick tries through outside centre Damian Morrow and fullback Simamkele Ngantweni to take a 15-3 half-time lead.
The majority of the second half was equally frustrating in terms of points as the scoreboard was only challenged in the 57th minute when FNB Rhodes flank Athenkosi Nkewana flew over the chalk to score his team’s only bonus-point try of the competition.
The final 20 minutes belonged to inside centre Simelela Mbanzi as he collected two tries from strong and direct running, before replacement scrumhalf Dimitri Mngqolo raced through to score. Flyhalf Matthew Royle slotted all three conversions.
Replacement utility back Abonga Manka bagged the Stallions' eighth try to wrap up a 46-3 win that will go a long way in boosting their confidence.
FNB DUT did well not to concede as many points against the Stallions as they did against other FNB Varsity Shield opponents. They should see their participation as a learning exercise as opposed to a failure with the tournament certainly being a step up from what they are used to.
A special mention must be made of FNB Rhodes replacement loose forward Viwe Makeleni, who represented the Stallions for the last time after joining the team in 2016 and becoming an integral part of the purple and white hoops.
FNB Player That Rocks: Simelela Mbanzi (FNB Rhodes)
FNB DUT Rhinos – Penalty: Nelson Mhlongo. FNB Rhodes – Tries: Cameron Marais, Damian Morrow, Simamkele Ngantweni, Athenkosi Nkewana, Simelela Mbanzi (2), Dimitri Mngqolo, Abongo Manka. Conversions: Matthew Royle (3).
The FNB Varsity Shield final between FNB CPUT and the FNB WSU All Blacks will take place at Tuks Stadium on Sunday (19:00, SuperSport Rugby channel 211).
FNB CPUT will be out to defend the title they won in 2019, while FNB WSU are hoping to lift the trophy for the first time.