The Central University of Technology scored a 79th-minute try to beat Walter Sisulu University 37-31 in Monday’s promotion-relegation match in Stellenbosch. DYLAN JACK reports.
CUT, who finished second last in this year’s Varsity Cup, came into the fixture as favourites, but it was WSU – the Varsity Shield runners-up – who led 31-30 with only three minutes to go.
But WSU replacement Khulekani Buthelezi was then yellow-carded. Soon after, CUT scrumhalf Ruben de Haas broke from a scrum and jinxed his way through a number of tackles to dot down under the post for the match-winning try.
It was a heartbreaking moment for a WSU side that led several times, but could never manage to get a crucial two-try cushion on the scoreboard.
WSU started strongly and after taking the ball through a number of phases in the CUT 22, flank Mihlali Mosi crossed under the posts after running onto a flat pass from flyhalf Beauton Pholman. Fullback Lusanda Xakwana added the conversion.
CUT then started to see more of the ball and spent a good amount of time in the WSU 22. Despite some strong defending from WSU, CUT eventually got through when wing Rasmus Breedt broke a tackle and stretched over for their opener.
After winning a scrum penalty, CUT kicked to the corner and set up a driving maul, with captain Tiaan Erasmus falling over the line to put them into the lead.
Mosi then picked up his brace, scoring a seven-point try this time. Wing Tebogo Madigoe showed serious pace with a break from inside his own 22 while Mosi held onto his pass and dotted down under the posts.
Minutes later, Breedt crossed for his brace, finding space out wide after CUT bashed it up with their forwards. Fullback Demetrio Tieties missed the conversion to make it 16-15 at half-time.
Xakwana kicked a penalty early in the second half to extend WSU’s lead to four points, but CUT hit back with another driving maul try, this time from tighthead prop Stefan van Schalkwyk.
CUT put WSU under a period of sustained pressure, which paid off when flyhalf Denver Kleu went over to give them a 25-19 lead. However, that only lasted a couple of minutes as hooker Maliviwe Simanaga – Player of the Season in the Varsity Shield – showed a trademark burst of pace to sprint down the touchline and score, with Xakwana’s conversion making it 28-25.
The Ixias used the driving maul to good effect throughout the game and scored a third try from the set piece when lock Sylvester Makakole went over, but WSU again took the lead with another penalty from Xakwana.
A dramatic closing period then ensued, as Buthelezi was sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul, and De Haas did brilliantly to score the winning try.
CUT – Tries: Rasmus Breedt (2), Tiaan Erasmus, Stefan van Schalkwyk, Denver Kleu, Sylvester Makakole, Ruben de Haas. Conversion: Kleu.
WSU – Try: Mihlai Mosi (2), Maliviwe Simanga. Conversions: Lusande Xakwana (3). Penalties: Xakwana (2).
CUT – 15 Dimitri Tieties 14 Masego Toolo, 13 Ruan Wasserman, 12 Marnu Van Niekerk, 11 Erasmus Breedt, 10 Denver Klue, 9 Ruben De Haas, 8 Stefan Kruger, 7 Ruan Smit, 6 Johannes Terblanche, 5 Sylvester Makakole, 4 Brendon Fortuin, 3 Stefan Van Schalkwyk, 2 Tiaan Erasmus, 1 Quintin Vorster.
Subs: 16 LW Viljoen, 17 Raynard Esterhuizen, 18 Henco Smit, 19 Thabo Chirwa, 20 Dian Dry, 21 Dean Jacobs, 22 Tiisetso Madonsela, 23 Karabo Maqeba.
WSU – 15 Xakwane Lusanda, 14 Yamkela Nyembe, 13 Sinegugu Lituka, 12 Mihlali Nchukana, 11 Athenkosi Ndzenene, 10 Beauton Pholman, 9 Henrico Koester, 8 Chumani Mjacu, 7 Mihlali Mosi, 6 Wam Mbana, 5 Xolowethu Jantjie, 4 Bonginkosi Ngqushwa, 3 Phumlani Blaauw, 2 Maliviwe Simanga, 1 Masonwabe Ngcem.
Subs: 16 Masixole Gubeni, Thokozani, 17 Ziyinqaba Mhlauli, 18 Xolani Jacobs, 19 Mthandazo Gcumeni, 20 Anathi Shenxane, 21 Thembani Kori, 22 Tebogo Madigoe, 23 Khulekani Buthelezi.
Photo: Varsity Cup