Defending champions Maties held on against a brave UCT performance to claim an 8-7 victory in a Cape derby match in Stellenbosch on Monday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The win, combined with Tuks’ loss to Wits in Johannesburg, saw Maties climb to the top of the Varsity Cup log as they handed UCT their first defeat of the season.
It was a festive atmosphere at the Danie Craven stadium with students packing out the ground for what was anticipated to be the home side’s most vital game of this season so far. There were also plenty of star names in attendance, with Siya Kolisi, Schalk Brits and USA coach Gary Gold all among the VIP section.
Unfortunately, the first half failed to really live up to the atmosphere, as both sides struggled to build the phases and conceded plenty of handling errors. Admittedly, it was a blustery evening in Stellenbosch, which meant putting boot to ball was a thankless task.
It was really Maties’ pack that made the difference for them as they dominated the scrums, lineouts and breakdown, winning a plethora of penalties.
It did not take for the Maroon Machine’s engine to exert itself on the game as Ben-Jason Dixon forced his way over in the sixth minute. The Maties captain certainly led from the front as the ball seemed magnetically attracted to his hands at the lineouts, while he also put in a massive shift defensively.
To UCT’s credit, they did extremely well to contain the home side and escape the first half conceding just the one try, given that they hardly got the opportunity to escape their own half during this time.
The Ikey Tigers started the second half brightly and saw a bit more of the ball, but again struggled to capitalise as Maties caused havoc at the lineouts. Their best chance came 17 minutes into the second half as they found themselves an inch from the tryline, but Maties held out and won the turnover to clear.
The defending champions were certainly pushed to the brink in the second half as UCT’s pack started to grow in confidence.
A dramatic finale followed as Maties extended their lead through a penalty from Cornel Smit, before UCT finally got the breakthrough when scrumhalf Kyle Bowman sniped over from close range, with James Tedder converting to make it a one-point game with three minutes to go.
UCT continued to push for a potential late winner but Maties defended well enough to force a knock-on and claim the win.
Maties – Try: Ben-Jason Dixon. Penalty: Cornel Smit.
UCT – Try: Kyle Bowman. Conversion: James Tedder.
Maties – 15 Anton du Toit, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 David Brits, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Dewald Naude, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Jon Dahl, 8 Marcel Theunissen, 7 Mitchell Carstens, 6 Geor Malan, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Gerrit Huisamen, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Hendrik Luus, 1 Dian Bleuler.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ricky Nwagbara, 18 Leon Lyons, 19 Willem Liebenberg, 20 Jacobus Swart, 21 Remu Malan, 22 Waqar Solaan, 23 Mike-Junior Mavovana.
UCT – 15 Athi Gazi, 14 Godfrey Ramaboea, 13 Liam Furniss, 12 Michael Brink, 11 Rayno Mapoe, 10 James Tedder, 9 Kyle Bowman, 8 Busanda Mabena, 7 Byron Cranswick, 6 Liam Greenhalgh, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Gary Porter, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Cuan Hablutzel, 1 Ashwyn Adams.
Subs: 16 Devon Arendse, 17 Gugu Nelani, 18 Luthando Woji, 19 Byron Bowes, 20 Neil Otto, 21 Liam Kloosman, 22 Gerard Pieterse, 23 Sebastian Roodt.
Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images