Shimlas beat title-holders Tuks 19-17 in Pretoria during the opening round of the Varsity Cup, while there were also wins for Maties, Pukke and Wits. DYLAN JACK reports.
Shimlas produced a defensive masterclass as they saw off wave after wave of the Tuks attack in the pouring rain.
The opening minutes were evenly matched as both sides struggled to adapt to the wet conditions and made numerous handling errors. However, Tuks soon dominated through the boot of flyhalf Tinus de Beer, who produced the opening try with a brilliant chip into the hands of wing Xolisa Guma.
Shimlas worked their way into the game and hit back with a try of their own when wing Francois Agenbag outpaced the defence and crossed for a converted seven-point try to put the visitors 9-5 up at half-time.
The Free Staters added to their lead early in the second half as flank Benjamin Janse van Vuuren crashed over the line.
A big talking point before the game surrounded the use of the new power play rule. However, both sides failed to capitalise when they called the power play. In fact, Shimlas added to their lead while down to 13 men, with flyhalf Luabablo Dobela kicking a penalty.
Tuks hit back with tries from centre Toko Seerane and captain Denzil Hill, but the defending champions left it too late as Shimlas held on for the win.
In Johannesburg, Maties got their 2018 campaign off to a strong start as they claimed a 31-3 bonus-point win against UJ. Wing Duncan Saal scored two of his sides’ five tries, including one during a Maties powerplay.
In Potchefstroom, Pukke thrashed CUT 70-7. The visitors scored a try just before half-time to make it 24-7 to the hosts. But Pukke put in a strong second half showing as they ran in six more tries to demolish the side from the Free State.
In Cape Town, Ikeys went into half-time leading 14-9. However, a try from Wits centre AJ van Blerk with seven minutes remaining gave the men from Johannesburg a 30-26 comeback win.
Varsity Cup results (Round 1):
Tuks (17) – Tries: Xolisa Guma, Toko Seerane, Denzil Hill. Conversion: Tinus de Beer.
Shimlas (19) – Tries: Francois Agenbag, Benjamin Janse van Vuuren. Conversions: Lubabalo Dobela (2). Penalty: Dobela.
Pukke (70) – Tries: Walt Steenkamp, Dean Gordon (2), Estehan Visagie (2), Tapiwa Mafura, Gideon van der Merwe, Hendrik Marais, Evardi Boshoff. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (7). Penalty: Hugo.
CUT (7) – Try: Tiaan Erasmus. Conversion: Heinrich Bitzi.
UCT (26) – Tries: Nyasha Tarusenga, penalty try, Brian Martin. Conversions: Brian Martin (2). Penalties: Martin.
Wits (30) – Tries: Kasande Kapepula, Constant Beckerling, Chris Hume, AJ van Blerk. Conversions: Christian Humphries (2).
UJ (3) – Penalty: Jeanluc Cilliers.
Maties (31) – Tries: Duncan Saal (2), Michal Haznar, Wilmar Arnoldi, Johan Momsen. Conversions: Chris Smith (2).
Photo: Luke Thorrold/Varsity Cup