Maties thrashed Shimlas 47-5 in Stellenbosch on Monday to qualify for their third straight Varsity Cup final. DYLAN JACK reports.
The men from Bloemfontein talked up their chances of upsetting Maties on their home turf, but they were never really in the clash.
It was always going to be difficult to chase a 14-point deficit in a playoff, but when that quickly became 26 points in the second half, it was a mountain that Shimlas just could not climb.
For Maties, the win gives them a chance to defend their title at home, and will send a warning to final opponents Tuks, especially as the semi-final was yet another display of the Maroon Machine’s efficiency, both on attack and defence.
The match got off to a competitive start with both sides making good inroads into each other’s defence. Maties uncharacteristically wasted two chances to take the lead in the opening 10 minutes as Chait missed a penalty and No 8 Stephan Streicher knocked on with the tryline at his mercy.
However, it was third time lucky as fullback Anton du Toit ran a perfect line on to a pass from Chris Smit to break through from a 5m scrum and score the opening try. Maties hooker Dan Jooste then muscled his way over for his sixth try of the season, doubling the home side’s lead after a break by Smit.
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The home side was intent on pinning Shimlas in their own 22 and started to take control of the game after the 20th-minute strategy break. While Shimlas did scramble well, they were ultimately undone by some poor first-time tackles. Maties got their third when Ben-Jason Dixon went over from close range, taking them to a 19-0 lead at half-time.
The hosts got the second half off to a flier as they took just a couple of minutes to extend their lead when flank and captain Chris Massyn drove over the tryline despite the attention of three Shimlas defenders.
Du Toit then took advantage of some poor pillar defence to grab his second and make it mission impossible for Shimlas. Their quest was given a boost when Dixon was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements, and they immediately punished the hosts when tighthead prop Ruan Kramer scored from a massive driving maul.
The playoff was effectively decided when Smit and Edwill van der Merwe combined for the umpteenth time this season, with Smit putting in a delightful chip which Van der Merwe gathered and scored in the corner.
Maties were not done there and added a further try through replacement hooker HJ Luus.
Maties – Tries: Anton du Toit (2), Dan Jooste, Ben-Jason Dixon, Chris Massyn, Edwill van der Merwe, HJ Luus. Conversions: Jordan Chait (5), Reinhardt Fortuin.
Shimlas – Try: Ruan Kramer.
Maties – 15 Anton du Toit, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 David Brits, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Chait, 9 Logan Boonzaaier, 8 Stephan Streicher, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Chris Massyn (c), 5 Clee Sesink, 4 Zirk Jansen, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Wayrin Losper.
Subs: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Ricky Nwagbara, 18 Piet Strauss, 19 Mitchell Carstens, 20 Jesse Johnson, 21 Brendon Nell, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Cornel Smit.
Shimlas – 15 Sechaba Matsoele, 14 Charl Pretorius, 13 William Eybers, 12 Tiaan Schutte, 11 Marnus Boshoff, 10 Lubabalo Dobela, 9 Zinedene Booysen, 8 Albertus de Bod, 7 Menzi Nhlabathi, 6 Jan Rossouw, 5 Sibabalo Qoma, 4 Nathan Jordan, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Wihan Marais, 1 Daniel Wessles.
Subs: 16 Christian Wiburg, 17 John Fincham, 18 Mogau Mabokela, 19 Henk Pretorius, 20 Olehile Losaba, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Cham Zondeki, 23 Kurt Eybers.