FNB UCT, FNB CUT and FNB UP-Tuks all made it three wins from three in the 2021 Varsity Cup, while FNB UWC and FNB Maties also emerged victorious on Sunday.
FNB UCT IKEYS 39 (21) FNB UJ 34 (19)
Unbeaten FNB UCT had to fight hard for this victory against winless FNB UJ in sweltering conditions at the Tuks B-Field, writes Dan Lombard.
It took just three minutes for the Ikey Tigers to flex their attacking muscle as flyhalf James Tedder delayed his pass perfectly for charging flanker Taariq Kruger to run a sublime line and cross untouched for a point-of-origin try.
Fullback Athi Gazi did extremely well to pin his ears back and score in the corner 14 minutes later as the men in hoops hopped onto a 12-0 lead just before the first half's strategy break.
FNB UJ struggled initially to contain their opponents but found their groove to score a point-of-origin try by Nkondlo Radebe, which flyhalf Jurich Claasens converted after missing a penalty attempt earlier on.
The scoreboard pendulum quickly swung both ways as the Ikey Tigers capitalised off a strong lineout drive with hooker Josh van Vuuren dotting down a converted try, before quick thinking by FNB UJ's backs allowed fullback Boldwin Hansen to score a converted try.
Claasens cut the deficit to three points just before the break through a penalty goal as FNB UCT enjoyed their oranges with a slender 21-19 lead.
The second half was much the same as both teams kept the scoreboard ticking over with FNB UJ grabbing the lead with a penalty before FNB UCT ran in another point-of-origin try that started from a strong scrum, through several hands before outside centre Le Roux Malan exploited a gap to score their bonus-point try.
No 8 Franco Schutte took heed of his coaches' advice at the strategy break as he scored a brace off powerful running and strong leg drives close to the line.
But Tedder ensured that the Ikey Tigers remained in the lead with two late penalty goals and left the first bio-bubble unbeaten after three rounds.
FNB Player that Rocks: Byron Bowes (FNB UCT Ikeys)
FNB UCT Ikeys – Tries: Taariq Kruger (1x7), Athi Gazi, Josh van Vuuren, Le Roux Malan (1x7). Conversions: James Tedder (3). Penalties: Tedder (3).
FNB UJ – Tries: Nkondlo Radebe (1x7), Boldwin Hansen, Franco Schutte (2). Conversions: Jurich Claasens (3). Penalties: Claasens (2).
FNB UWC 47 (30) FNB MADIBAZ 40 (19)
Flank Tinotenda Masevere scored a first-half hat-trick as FNB UWC claimed their first win of the tournament, writes Bronwen Bain.
The FNB Madibaz made a strong start at Tuks Stadium when hooker Thembekile Boltina went over from a maul, but FNB UWC hit back through Mavasere, who beat two defenders on his way to the tryline.
Boltina got over for his second, before FNB UWC hooker Jacques van Zyl dotted down almost immediately after the first strategy break to make it a two-point game.
Mavasere then scored two tries in quick succession, the latter a point-of-origin seven-pointer, to give FNB UWC a 30-19 half-time lead.
The FNB Madibaz pack got them back into the game when flank Anrouw Nel went over early in the second half.
But FNB UWC regained control when fullback Gilroy-Lee Philander broke the line and flyhalf André Manuel’s excellent pass put wing Tasriq Mynhardt over in the corner for a seven-point try.
Despite only having 14 men on the field after fullback Tiaan Swanepoel was sent to the sin bin, Nel grabbed his second try.
FNB Madibaz hooker Ruan Jonker then scored a converted point-of-origin try in the 80th minute, which reduced the deficit to seven points. But while there was still time for the restart, FNB UWC were able to hang on for the win.
FNB Player that Rocks: Tinotenda Mavesere (FNB UWC)
FNB UWC – Tries: Tinotenda Masevere (2x5, 1x7), Jacques van Zyl (2), Tasriq Mynhardt (1x7). Conversions: Branden de Kock (5). Penalty: De Kock.
FNB Madibaz – Tries: Tembekile Boltina (2), Aya Oliphant, Arnouw Nel (2), Ruan Jonker (1x7). Conversions: Tian Schutte (4).
FNB CUT IXIAS 31 (21) FNB UFS SHIMLAS 26 (7)
FNB CUT claimed a third consecutive Bloemfontein derby win to finish the first FNB Varsity Cup bubble at the top of the log, writes Dan Lombard.
In arguably the matchup of Round 3, FNB UFS Shimlas took a 7-3 lead in the 14th minute when hooker William Moffat enjoyed the fruits of the forwards' labour at lineout time to score the opening try.
There certainly wasn't any love lost between the two sets of players as they ran into collision after collision as the Pretoria sun beat down relentlessly.
The Ixias turned the screws before and after the strategy break as they crossed twice courtesy of flyhalf Charles Williams and flank Hans Terblanche. Williams converted his own try and added two penalty goals to give his charges a comfortable 21-7 lead at the break.
The third 'chukka' of the match was jam-packed with impressive attacking runs and a resolute defence as the men from Bloemfontein sussed each other out.
The Ixias profited first, four minutes into the second half, as outside centre Niell Stannard powered through several tackles to reach out and score. Shimlas responded in kind six minutes later as Moffat bagged his brace.
Credit must be given to Shimlas as they never stopped pushing for the win and were rewarded with a point-of-origin try by inside centre Janco Klinck, which was converted by replacement flyhalf Ethan Wentzel.
Desperate to keep the Ixias out, FNB UFS Shimlas found themselves guilty of ill-discipline and received two yellow cards in quick succession to fullback Cham Zondeki and replacement lock George Rossouw with time running out for Shimlas to make a comeback.
It was not to be as FNB CUT held out against Shimlas' last-ditch attempt to pull a win out of the bag.
FNB Player that Rocks: Charles Williams (FNB CUT Ixias)
FNB CUT Ixias – Tries: Charles Williams, Hans Terblanche, Neill Stannard. Conversions: Williams (2). Penalties: Williams (4).
FNB UFS Shimlas – Tries: William Moffat (2), Janco Klinck (1x7). Conversions: JP Duvenage, Ethan Wentzel (2). Penalty: Wentzel.
FNB NWU EAGLES 15 (10) FNB UP-TUKS 33 (9)
FNB UP-Tuks dominated the second half of this match at Tuks Stadium to claim their third successive win, writes Bronwen Bain.
The tournament hosts once again recovered from a slow start, having trailed 10-9 at the break.
After back-to-back Player That Rocks performances, hooker Gustav du Rand opened the scoring for the FNB NWU Eagles, with Keagan Fortune making the conversion look easy.
Fullback Zander du Plessis got FNB UP-Tuks on the board when he slotted a mammoth 55m penalty, which he followed shortly afterwards with another from just inside opposition territory.
Fortune’s penalty gave the FNB NWU Eagles a 10-6 lead, before FNB UP-Tuks prop Dewald Donald was yellow-carded for a high tackle. Du Plessis then made it a one-point game when he kicked a touchline penalty.
FNB UP-Tuks stepped up a gear in the second half, with Du Plessis’ fourth penalty followed by a try to No 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, who found space out wide to sneak in the corner.
Just as the Eagles looked like they were getting back into the game, scrumhalf Riaan Genis was yellow-carded and FNB UP-Tuks flank Eduan Lubbe made them pay for it with a try.
Scrumhalf Clyde Lewis then raced away for the hosts’ third try, with Du Plessis’ conversion completing a perfect night with the boot.
Replacement Jandré de Beer scored a try for the FNB NWU Eagles after the hooter but it was FNB UP-Tuks who celebrated a third successive win.
FNB Player That Rocks: Zander du Plessis (FNB UP-Tuks)
FNB NWU Eagles – Tries: Gustav du Rand, Jandré de Beer. Conversion: Keagan Fortune. Penalty: Fortune.
FNB UP-Tuks – Tries: Jaco Bezuidenhout, Eduan Lubbe, Clyde Lewis. Conversions: Zander du Plessis (3). Penalty: Du Plessis (4).
FNB MATIES 19 (5) FNB WITS 13 (8)
FNB Maties overturned a half-time deficit to claim a narrow win against a committed FNB Wits team at Tuks Stadium, writes Bronwen Bain.
This was a special occasion for FNB Wits captain Constant Beckerling, who donned the blue and yellow for the 50th time. And he would have celebrated it with a win had his team taken their scoring opportunities on the night.
FNB Wits flyhalf Christian Humphries kicked an early penalty, before FNB Maties replied with a try from hooker HJ Luus.
After FNB Wits fullback Jimmy Mpailane had been sent to the sin bin, Humphries was off-target with his second penalty-goal attempt.
Centre Henco van Wyk got the breakthrough FNB Wits needed when he beat several defenders to score his first FNB Varsity Cup try for Wits. Humphries’ conversion went wide but his team went into the break 8-5 up.
Eight minutes into the second half, FNB Maties captain David Brits put winger Munier Hartzenberg away for a try in the corner and Nevaldo Fleurs added the conversion.
However, FNB Maties were unable to capitalise on other scoring opportunities, while FNB Wits also let promising chances go to waste.
FNB Maties flank Mitchell Carstens was yellow-carded with eight minutes remaining but that didn’t prevent replacement hooker André-Hugo Venter – who scored four tries against FNB UWC on Thursday – from powering over for a point-of-origin try.
FNB Maties were then reduced to 13 men when replacement prop Leon Lyons was sent to the sin bin, and FNB Wits made their numerical advantage count when Van Wyk scored his second try. But the conversion was missed and there wasn’t time for the restart.
FNB Player That Rocks: Munier Hartzenberg (FNB Maties)
FNB Maties – Tries: HJ Luus, Munier Hartzenberg, André-Hugo Venter (1x7). Conversion: Nevaldo Fleurs.
FNB Wits – Tries: Henco van Wyk (2). Penalty: Christian Humphries
The FNB Varsity Cup will take an 11-day break, with the FNB Varsity Shield kicking off on Monday with three matches at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
The FNB DUT Rhinos will make their much-anticipated tournament debut against FNB WSU at 15:00. FNB Rhodes and the FNB UKZN Impi will then clash at 17:00, with FNB CPUT taking on FNB UFH at 19:00. (FNB TUT have a Round 1 bye.)
All three Shield matches will be broadcast live on the SuperSport Rugby channel (211).
Photos: Christiaan Kotze/Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup