Pukke’s title defence came to an abrupt end with a 43-28 defeat against Tuks on Monday, while Maties, Wits and NMMU sealed wins in the final regular round of the Varsity Cup.
Coming into round nine, Tuks, Maties and UJ had already secured semi-final berths, it was just a matter of where each team finished after the round-robin stage to determine which two of the three sides would host the semi-finals.
The last playoff spot was also still up for grabs, with either Pukke or Shimlas set to progress. Before this round commenced, Shimlas were fourth on the standings with five more log points than Pukke, but Shimlas had played a game more. This meant Pukke had to record a bonus-point victory against Tuks to stay in the competition, but they failed to do so, granting Shimlas safe passage through to the knockout stage.
Tuks opened the scoring with a seven-point try and flyhalf Tinus de Beer added the extras for a 9-0 lead, but Pukke hit back with a converted try through Elden Schoeman. From there, Tuks dominated and they were rewarded with a 25-7 advantage at the break.
Tuks conceded a yellow card early in the second half and Pukke pounced by scoring two quick tries to make it an eight-point game. But while they did well to stay in touching distance on the scoreboard and secured the bonus point for four tries scored, Tuks remained a step ahead and in the last minute of the game they sealed the result with a fifth try.
In other results, Maties hammered UJ 65-19 in Stellenbosch, Wits defeated UCT 35-23 in Johannesburg and NMMU beat CUT 40-14 in Bloemfontein.
Tuks will host Shimlas in one semi-final and in a rematch of one of Monday’s matches, Maties will welcome UJ.
Pukke (28) – Tries: Andre Warner (2), Clyde Davids, Dewald Naude, Sibahle Maxwane. Conversions: Tinus De Beer (4). Penalties: Tinus De Beer (2).
Tuks (43) – Elden Schoeman, Walt Steenkamp, Wilmar Arnoldi, Loftus Morrison. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (3).
Maties (65) – Tries: Kyle Steyn (3), Craig Barry, Johan Momsen, Duncan Saal, Edwill van der Merwe (2), Chris Smith. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (3), Chris Smith.
UJ (19) – Tries: Peter Walters, Jaco Fourie. Conversions: Divan Nel (2). Penalties: Divan Nel.
Wits (35) – Tries: Ruan Cloete, Kwanele Ngema, Luvuyo Pupuma, CJ Greef, CJ Conradie. Conversions: Warren Gilbert (5).
UCT (23) – Tries: Nyasha Tarusenga, Hendrik Lategan, Joel Smith. Conversions: Lohan Lubbe (3).
CUT (14) – Tries: Stefan Kruger, Ruan Wasserman. Conversions: Martin Jacobs (2).
NMMU (40) – Tries: Stefan Kruger, Ruan Wasserman. Conversions: Martin Jacobs (2).
Photo: Varsity Cup