Maties beat defending champions Tuks 41-24 in Stellenbosch to join Pukke, UCT and NMMU in the Varsity Cup play-offs.
UCT will host Maties in the first semi-final, followed by Pukke against the Madibaz.
Tuks led 16-0 at half-time after prop Basil Short crashed over from a powerful driving maul and wing Duncan Matthews broke through the line. Maties were struck a further blow when centre Mark Hodgkiss was shown a yellow card for tripping Tuks fullback Warrick Gelant just before the interval.
But the hosts hit back with a try from flyhalf Robert du Preez and then levelled the scores when fullback Craig Barry stretched to score. Maties then went in front for the first time when the ball was sent wide to Caleb Smith, who finished well in the corner, and a Du Preez penalty just after the strategy break extended their lead to 26-16.
Replacement prop Andrew Beerwinkel got Tuks back into the game when he dived on the ball to score after a Maties clearance kick had been charged down, with the conversion narrowing the gap to 26-24. But Maties finished strongly, with Barry ghosting through a gap to score the bonus-point try and replacement Chris Smith cruising over near the end.
In Bloemfontein, Shimlas beat NMMU 34-33, but it was not enough to prevent the visitors from booking their place in the semi-finals. A try from replacement hooker Martin Ferreira in the last minute saw the Eastern Cape side secure two bonus points, which ended Shimlas' play-off hopes in dramatic fashion.
Hooker Jacques du Toit scored two tries for the hosts, who led 21-20 at the break, with second rower Neil Claassen and Maphuta Dolo also getting over. Centre Michael Bernardt and Gavin Hauptfleisch scored the Madibaz's first two tries, before Ferreira's crucial double. Both sides received two yellow cards in the match, with Shimlas' second coming with two minutes to go.
In the two non-televised games, UCT beat Wits 25-5 in Joburg, to finish second on the log, while Pukke edged UJ 24-20 in Potchefstroom to finish top. Last-placed Wits have been relegated and will play Varsity Shield rugby next year, while UJ will have to play a promotion-relegation match.
In the Varsity Shield, Fort Hare thrashed UWC 51-29 in Bellville and UKZN cruised past TUT 55-24 in Pretoria.
Shimlas (34) – Tries: Neil Claassen, Jacques du Toit (2), Dolo, Gouws Prinsloo. Conversions: Prinsloo (3).
NMMU (33) – Tries: Michael Bernardt, Gavin Hauptfleisch, Martin Ferreira (2). Conversions: Hauptfleisch (2), Jarryd Buys. Penalties: Hauptfleisch (2).
Wits (5) – Try: Hannes Ludik.
UCT (25) – Tries: James Alexander, Lihleli Xoli, Martin Sauls, Shaun McDonald, Nathan Nel.
Pukke (24) – Tries: Philip de Wet, Hoffman Maritz, Ryno Smith. Conversions: Adriaan Engelbrecht (3).
UJ (20) – Tries: Dylan Petersson, Michael Haznar. Conversions: Marais Schmidt (2). Penalties: Schmidt (2).
Maties (41) – Tries: Robert du Preez, Craig Barry (2), Caleb Smith, Chris Smith. Conversions: Du Preez (4). Penalties: Du Preez (2).
Tuks (24) – Tries: Basil Short, Duncan Matthews, Andrew Beerwinkel. Conversions: Juan Schoeman (3).
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Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images