The boot of flyhalf Reinhardt Fortuin proved the difference as Maties beat UP-Tuks 13-7 to continue their unbeaten run in Stellenbosch on Monday. DYLAN JACK reports.
While the defending champions started the season with three wins where they scored at least 60 points in each, this game was as far from those as possible.
This was far more of a grind for the Maroon Machine as they were far from their best and had to defend for long periods of the second half.
In that respect, they were there for the taking as they will ever be and Tuks will be kicking themselves for not making more of their opportunities.
The visitors had numerous chances to maul the ball over from five metres out, but on each occasion Maties managed to not only stop the drive but win a turnover.
Tuks will definitely have to work on their set piece as they were caused no end of problems by Ben-Jason Dixon and Zirk Jansen at the lineout, while Sazi Sandi and Dian Bleuler were dominant in the scrums.
To the away side’s credit, they defended extremely well as this was as anonymous as a Maties backline has ever been. This was especially apparent in the first half, as Maties struggled to find an opening through an aggressive defence.
In the opening exchanges the two sides were deadlocked at 7-7 with Maties captain Dixon opening the scoring after a period of sustained pressure, before Tuks hit back immediately with a well-worked try from wing Stefanus Coetzee.
Fortuin showed his big-match temperament to convert a penalty to take the hosts into a 10-7 lead at the break, before kicking another from behind the halfway line to give Maties enough of a buffer to see the game out.
Maties – Try: Ben-Jason Dixon. Conversion: Reinhardt Fortuin. Penalties: Fortuin (2).
UP-Tuks – Try: Stefanus Coetzee. Conversion: Theo Boshoff.
Maties – 15 Anton du Toit, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 David Brits, 12 Waqar Solaan, 11 Dewald Naude, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Marcel Theunissen, 7 Adriaan Bester, 6 Geor Malan, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon (c), 4 Zirk Jansen, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Hendrik Luus, 1 Dian Bleuler.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ricky Nwagbara, 18 Leon Lyons, 19 Willem Liebenberg, 20 Mitchell Carstens, 21 Luciano Elias, 22 Cornel Smit, 23 Mike-Junior Mavovana.
UP-Tuks – 15 Alex-Zander du Plessis, 14 Stefanus Coetzee, 13 Sango Xamlashe, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Kabelo Mokoena, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Raegan Oranje, 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Jacobus Smit, 5 Marius Verwey (c), 4 Marcell Barnard, 3 Jean-Pierre Smith, 2 Keano Hendricks, 1 Andre van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Ethan Burger, 18 Mogau Mabokela, 19 Ewart Potgieter, 20 Keenan Opperman, 21 Lesley October, 22 Elden Schoeman, 23 Lionel April.