Pukke scored an 89th-minute try to beat Maties 7-6 in Stellenbosch on Monday night and claim their first Varsity Cup title. TYRONE ENGEL reports.
What a finish. Maties looked to have secured a record fourth Varsity Cup title, and their first since 2010, only for Pukke to pound away at their tryline for nine minutes after the full-time hooter.
Pukke had been denied a match-winning try in the 78th minute when the TMO ruled that replacement Dean Stokes had knocked on over the tryline. It was a tough call, as he did seem to ground it, while there had also been an early tackle.
Pukke, though, won a penalty from the Maties' scrum and chose to scrum again, winning two more penalties through their dominant pack.
On the second occasion, the ball went wide, but Maties gave away another penalty and centre Chris Smit was shown a yellow card for playing the ball at the ruck from an offside position. Pukke chose to scrum again and were awarded their fifth penalty inside Maties' 5m line.
Pukke spread the ball through the hands again as Maties gave away yet another offside penalty. The visitors chose to scrum again and were awarded their seventh penalty in this period. They took it quickly and Maties were again penalised for going offside, with scrumhalf Remu Malan sent to the sin bin.
Pukke eventually found their way over the line in the 89th minute as flank Marno Redelinghuys picked up from the back of the ruck and spun his way through to score next to the right-hand upright. Fullback Rhyno Smith kicked the conversion to secure a dramatic win.
The sides had been level at 0-0 at half-time. Maties broke the deadlock in the 46th minute as flyhalf Christopher Smith, who was drafted in minutes before kick-off with regular pivot Ernst Stapelberg ruled out through injury, kicked an early penalty goal. He slotted another soon after to make it 6-0.
Both sides had their fair share of opportunities to win the game, but were unable to convert pressure into points until Pukke finally crossed the line.
Having lost the Varsity Cup final in 2014 and 2015, they finally had their hands on the trophy.
Maties – Penalties: Christopher Smith (2).
Pukke – Try: Marno Redelinghuys. Conversion: Rhyno Smith.
Maties – 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Paul Streicher, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Janco Venter, 6 Beyers de Villiers (c), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Jacobus van der Merwe, 2 Johan Kirsten, 1 Chippie Oelofse.
Subs: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Sidney Labuschagne, 19 Saud Abrahams, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Kyle Steyn, 22 Brandon Asher-Wood, 23 Johannes Kleinhans.
Pukke – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Lucian Cupido, 13 Johan Deysel, 12 Henko Marais, 11 Mahuza Sylvian, 10 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandré Rudolph (c), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Jaco Jordaan, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Neil Morrison, 3 Bart le Roux, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Joe Smith, 18 Ruan Venter, 19 Tiaan Liebenberg, 20 Percy Williams, 21 Akhona Nela, 22 Dean Stokes, 23 Mogau Mabokela.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images