Shimlas beat Pukke 63-33 in Bloemfontein on Monday to claim their maiden Varsity Cup title.
The hosts outscored their old rivals nine tries to four in a breathless match to end the season unbeaten and hand Pukke their second consecutive final defeat.
The visitors made a determined start to the match, and drove Shimlas deep into their own territory where they were able to force a penalty which Rhyno Smith slotted.
However, they were reduced to 14 men shortly afterwards when flank Marno Redelinghuys was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, and the home side took advantage immediately with lock Johan van der Hoogt barging over for the opening try which put them 8-2 up once flyhalf Niel Marais converted.
They did not have that lead for long, though, as Marais’ clearance from the restart was charged down by Pukke scrumhalf Malherbe Swart who scored under the sticks to put his side back in front.
The Potchefstroom students were not done, though, and added a second try straight away, with inside centre Johan Deysel running a great line off a lineout in their own half to race away and score to stretch their lead out to 18-8 despite being a man down.
Shimlas hit back just after the first strategy break, with big No 8 Niell Jordaan crashing over from a driving maul to cap a sustained period of pressure, but the visitors were able to respond with another Smith penalty which took their lead out to 20-13.
The drama continued as Pukke captain Jeandré Rudolph was sent to the sin bin on the half-hour mark for repeated breakdown infringements and the home side duly capitalised with wing Maphutha Dolo stepping through a gap for a try that gave them the lead.
They followed it up with a fantastic counter-attack from their own half, sparked by Vuyani Maqina who found Marais on the inside and the flyhalf produced a sensational offload to put flying flank Daniel Maartens away for a try which put them 26-20 ahead at half-time.
The hosts scored their fifth try just after the break with Marais central once again as he collected a partially charged kick and got the ball away to Dolo who released outside centre Nico Lee to surge over the whitewash.
At 34-20 down the visitors were up against it and their forwards produced the perfect response with Rudolph scoring a pushover try from a dominant attacking scrum.
The battle continued as Shimlas replied with a second try from Lee who hit a well-timed pass from Marais at pace to burst through and score under the posts.
That left Pukke with all to do in the last 20 minutes, but it was not to be as tries from Marais, Dolo and Maartens piled more misery on the Potchefstroom side, and although the visitors had the last say with a late effort from Rowayne Beukman it mattered little as the hosts claimed an emphatic victory in the end.
Shimlas – Tries: Johan van der Hoogt, Niell Jordaan, Maphutha Dolo (2), Daniel Maartens (2), Nico Lee 2, Niel Marais. Conversions: Marais (6).
Pukke – Tries: Malherbe Swart, Johan Deysel, Jeandré Rudolph, Rowayne Beukman. Conversions: Rhyno Smith (3). Penalties: Smith (2).
Shimlas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Vuyani Maqina, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Maphutha Dolo, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Gerhard Olivier, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Johan van der Hoogt, 4 Henco Venter, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Elandre Hugget, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Theunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Boela Venter, 19 De Wet Kruger, 20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane, 21 JP Coetzee, 22 Refuoe Rampete, 23 Dolph Botha.
Pukke – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Dalen Goliath, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Dillon Smit, 10 Jonny Welthagen, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandré Rudolph (c), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Armandt Liebenberg, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Loftus Morrison, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Wian Fourie, 1 Johan Smith.
Subs: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mogau Makobela, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Molotsi Bouwer, 20 Johannes Briers, 21 Bouke Tack, 22 Juandre Williams, 23 Cayle Denner.
By Michael de Vries
Photo: Varsity Cup