Pukke will play UCT in the Varsity Cup final in Potchefstroom on 7 April after a day of drama.
Ikeys came up with a hard-fought 20-8 victory over Maties on a wet Green Mile with a superb display of defending for 15 minutes on their own line in the first half, and much of that with 14 men after wing Richard Stewart was sent off for repeated infringements.
Maties will look back on those last few minutes of the first half with regret, for that was their chance to put the first points on the board. Having survived the onslaught, Ikeys struck early after the restart, when wing Lihleli Xoli dived on a sliding ball mishandled by the Maties defence.
Dean Grant added the conversion and two penalties which took Ikeys’ lead to 12-0, and it looked a tough task for Maties with the wind and rain blowing in their faces. A massive shove saw UCT No 8 Michael Botha crash over for a pushover try which made it 20-0 when Grant added the extras.
Maties scrumhalf Jean Nel slid across the line in the corner for a consolation try, converted from the touchline by flyhalf Robert du Preez.
Pukke owe their 19-18 win to a late penalty by Rhyno Smith and a determined defence in the last five minutes as the Madibaz pushed for victory.
The home side made the early running and tries by flank Rhyk Welgemoed and wing Luther Obi gave them a healthy 13-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes. It says much for the Madibaz's resilience that they put enough pressure on for Pukke hooker Armand van der Merwe to be shown a yellow card for repeated infringements in the 22. NMMU took advantage as flank Chris Cloete peeled off a maul to charge over for their first try to trail 13-8 at the break.
Two penalties from Pukke centre Adriaan Engelbrecht early in the second half saw them stretch their lead to 17-8, but the visitors struck soon afterwards as they launched a breathtaking counter-attack from their own territory.
Fullback Jarryd Buys threw a neat dummy before releasing wing Tythan Adams who finished well, with Hauptfleisch’s conversion reducing the gap to 17-16. NMMU took the lead for the first time with just 12 minutes left to play when Buys slotted a drop goal which set up a tense finish. Only to be denied by a scrum infringement.
In the Varsity Shield, two late tries from outside centre Brandon Bailing saw the UKZN Impi beat CUT 39-21 in Pietermaritzburg to secure a repeat game for the final. In the other match, the Fort Hare Blues ran out 38-36 winners over TUT Vikings in Alice.
UCT (20) – Tries: Lihleli Xoli, Michael Botha. Conversions: Dean Grant (2). Penalties: Grant (2).
Maties (8) – Try: Jean Nel. Conversion: Robert du Preez.
Pukke (19) – Tries: Rhyk Welgemoed, Luther Obi, Conversion: Adriaan Engelbrecht. Penalties: Engelbrecht (2), Rhyno Smith.
NMMU (18) – Tries: Chistopher Cloete, Tythan Adams. Conversions: Gavin Hauptfleisch (2). Drop goal: Jarryd Buys.
UCT – 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (c), 8 Michael Botha, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Shaun McDonald, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Joel Carew.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Robin Murray, 18 Kyle Kriel, 19 Gareth Ehret, 20 James Alexander, 21 Martin Sauls, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 David Maasch.
Maties – 15 Craig Barry, 14 Mark Hodgskiss, 13 Jacobus Loubser, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 John Durr, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Tertius Daniller (c), 7 Helmut Lehmann, 6 Justin Benn, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Liam Hendricks, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Wesley Adonis.
Subs: 16 Neethling Gericke, 17 Niel Oelofse, 18 Ian Groenewald, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Tebongo Letlape, 23 Nicol Heyns.
Pukke – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Edmar Marais, 13 Jaap Pienaar, 12 Adriaan Engelbrecht, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9, Tiaan Dorfling (c), 8 Juan Language, 7 Rhyk Welgemoed, 6 Philip de Wet, 5 Francois Robbertse, 4 Peet van der Walt, 3 Nhlanhla Ngcamu, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Robey Labuschagne, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Rhyno Smith, 22 Lucien Cupido, John-Roy Jenkinson.
NMMU – 15 Jarryd Buys, 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Michael Bernardt, 12 Andile Jho, 11 Yamkela Ngam, 10 Gavin Hauptfleisch, 9 Daniel Acker, 8 Marcel Groenewald, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Christopher Cloete, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Dexter Fahey, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (c).
Subs: 16 Jody Reynecke, 17 Abongile Mnyaka, 18 Timothy Agaba, 19 Wade Elliot, 20 Kayle van Zyl, 21 Devon Lailvaux, 22 Sinakho Mafu, 23 Simon Kerrod.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images