UJ win Johannesburg derby
- 12 Mar 2018
UJ boosted their chances of reaching the Varsity Cup semi-finals with a 29-17 win against Wits, while there were also victories for Pukke, Tuks and Maties. DYLAN JACK reports.
In a game where UJ very rarely looked like losing control, it was the visitors' defensive organisation and forward domination which allowed their backs to execute their plans so clinically.
UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg was keen to emphasise before the match that the forward battle would be crucial, and it showed as UJ dominated that aspect from beginning to end.
The visitors scored their first try after getting into Wits' 22 through a turnover scrum. After taking the ball through the phases, UJ freed up Odwa Nkunjana to score.
Throughout the game, Wits had opportunities to cut UJ's lead and even go ahead, but they made handling errors at crucial times.
UJ then doubled their lead when they gained possession from a Wits knock on, they then drove through their opponents' forwards and eventually got space for flank James Venter to burst through and score.
Wits tightened up and replied when hooker CJ Conradie powered over from the back of a maul.
The visitors then immediately took their power play, choosing to remove scrumhalf Ruan Cloete and fullback David Carey.
Although Wits wing Kwanele Ngema produced a brilliant tackle to deny UJ wing Tatendaishe Mujawo, they eventually made their numerical advantage count when Nkunjana went over in the corner.
Wits needed a fast response to keep the game from getting away from them and they got that when tighthead prop CJ Greeff drove over the line from a lineout move to make it 21-10.
The hosts came out flying in the second half and quickly tightened the scoreline when lock Conor Brockschmidt went over in the 43rd minute for a converted try.
Wits dominated much of the second half, and continued to play their expansive game but were forced into errors by an unforgiving UJ defence.
UJ then sealed the game when a clever pass from Austin Davids found centre partner Jan-Louis la Grange in space to score. UJ flyhalf Kobus Engelbrecht then kicked a penalty to ensure that Wits would have to score twice to win the match.
Wits attempted the same heroics that earned them a 30-30 draw with Maties but there was to be no repeat of that result as UJ kept them pinned in their own half through the boot of Engelbrecht and some stout defending to see out the match.
Later in the day, Pukke powered to a 54-26 win over traditional rivals Shimlas in Potchefstroom.
The home side got off to a flying start as scrumhalf Chriswill September produced a brilliant offload to send wing Dean Gordon on his way for a seven-point try, which flyhalf Schalk Hugo converted to make it 9-0.
Shimlas then struck back when scrumhalf Rewan Kruger produced a similar pass to allow No 8 Albertus de Bod to score.
However, Pukke then dominated the rest of the first half, adding further tries through Evardi Boshoff, Tiaan Bezuidenhout and September which made it 30-7 at half-time.
Shimlas were competitive at the start of the second half when centre Akhona Nela chose a good line to run onto a pass from Hugo, and score near the posts.
The visitors then called the power play and made the extra space count as wing Athi Halom went over to make it 37-12.
Pukke then added further tries from hooker Louis van der Westhuyzen and fullback Tapiwe Mafura to round off a convincing 54-21 win.
In other results, braces from Ruan Nortje, Tyler Fisher and Eduan Lubbe gave Tuks their first win of the season as they beat CUT 54-26 in Bloemfontein.
The match between NMU and Maties in Port Elizabeth was abandoned nine minutes into the second half due to a field invasion when the visitors were leading 19-0. That was later ruled to be the final result, with Maties denied the chance to claim a bonus-point victory.
Varsity Cup results (Round 7):
Wits (17) – Tries: CJ Conradie, CJ Greeff, Conor Brockschmidt. Conversion: Christian Humphries.
UJ (29) – Tries: Odwa Nkunjana (2), James Venter, Jan-Louis la Grange. Conversions: Kobus Engelbrecht (2). Penalty: Engelbrecht
CUT (26) – Tries: Joseph Karabo, Ruan Smit, Ruan Wasserman, Ruben de Haas. Conversions: Denver Klue (2)
Tuks (54) – Tries: Cameron Huffke, Tyler Fisher (2), Eduan Lubbe (2), Christo Hamman, Ruan Nortje (2), Marnus Potgieter. Conversions: Hamman (6).
Pukke (54) – Tries: Dean Gordon, Evardi Boshoff, Tiaan Bezuidenhoudt, Chriswill September, Akhona Nela, Louis van der Westhuizen, Tapiwe Mafura, Jimmy Mpailane. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (6)
Shimlas (21) – Tries: Albertus de Bod, Athi Halom, Carel Coetzee. Conversion: Lubabalo Dobela.
Maties (19) – Tries: Johan Momsen, Logan Boonzaaier, Munier Hartzenberg. Conversions: Chris Smith (2).
Match stopped due to a pitch invasion nine minutes into the second half
Photo: Dominic Barnardt/Varsity Sports
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