Loose forward Thabo Ndimande scored three tries to help Shimlas complete a stunning turnaround and claim a memorable 50-28 victory over Maties at Shimla Park on Monday night.
To put the result into context, it was just last year that Maties hammered Shimlas 81-24 at Loftus Versfeld, when games were being held at neutral venues due to lockdown restrictions.
However, on Monday, the five-time champions were well beaten. Shimlas put in an excellent performance in front of their home crowd, as students made their long-awaited return to campus, to claim a first win in seven matches against the Maroon Machine.
It was a shaky start from Shimlas as they lost the ball forward metres from their own tryline when trying to run the ball from inside their own 22 inside the first minute of play.
However, Ndimande’s first try, where the flank ran an excellent line on to tireless scrumhalf Chad Adams’ flat pass and showed great pace to sprint to the tryline, settled the home side. Ndimande would get his second from a driving maul, in between two penalties from Maties flyhalf Jurie Matthee.
Shimlas captain Thabang Mahlasi then got in on the act, powering his way over the tryline, before Maties were given a bit of hope when, in just his second Varsity Cup appearance, hooker Chris Rossouw bumped a couple of tacklers off on his way to the tryline.
Shimlas had the bonus point wrapped just before the break when Mahlasi’s lock partner Nathan Jordan reached over for the fourth try to make it 26-11 at the break.
The home side carried the momentum into second half as they continued to pile on the pressure and force Maties to concede penalties. This took its toll on the visitors as Marco van Rhyn was yellow-carded for a maul penalty. Shimlas opted to go for the corner and, from the subsequent maul, Ndimande scored his third try.
From there on, the momentum was with Maties as Sean Swart scored from a maul. Shimlas lost two tight forwards to yellow cards in quick succession and Maties took full advantage, with De Wet Marais scoring a quick-tap penalty.
While Maties tried to run the ball from all angles and exploit the numbers advantage, it was Shimlas who punished a handling as they counter-attacked from inside their own half and George Louren was on hand to finish off a converted seven-point try. The visitors did manage to grab a four-try bonus point when captain Gift Dlamini exploited an overlap to score.
There was still time for Shimlas to add more gloss to the scoreline, as fullback Litha Nkula knocked over a penalty, before Jandre Nel sniped over the tryline on the verge of full time.
UFS Shimlas – Tries: Thabo Ndimande (3), Thabang Mahlasi, Nathan Jordan, George Louren, Jandre Nel. Conversions: Litha Nkula (4). Penalty: Nkula.
Maties – Tries: Chris Rossouw, Sean Swart, De Wet Marais, Gift Dlamini. Conversion: Penalties: Matthee (3).
UFS Shimlas – 15 Litha Nkula, 14 Cham Zondeki, 13 Janco van Heyningen, 12 Janco Klinck, 11 Asanda Kunene, 10 George Louren, 9 Chadd Adams, 8 Ruwald van der Merwe, 7 Lourens Oosthuizen, 6 Thabo Ndimande, 5 Thabang Mahlasi (c), 4 Nathan Jordan, 3 Matthew Golden, 2 William Moffat, 1 Johan Schutte.
Subs: 16 Wihan Marais, 17 Melusi Mthabela, 18 Jan Meades, 19 Reinier Viljoen, 20 Kwezi Dlamini, 21 Jandre Nel, 22 Jooste Nel, 23 Luyanda Mkhize.
Maties – 15 Nevaldo Fleurs, 14 Marcqiewn Titus, 13 Anton du Toit, 12 Taigh Schoor, 11 Mike Mavovana, 10 Jurie Matthee, 9 Eduan Smit, 8 Jesse Johnson, 7 De Wet Marais, 6 Gift Dlamini (c), 5 Marco van Rhyn, 4 Juan Beukes, 3 Edward Combrinck, 2 Chris Rossouw, 1 Rhynardt Rijnsburger.
Subs: 16 Sean Swart, 17 Vernon Matongo, 18 Matimu Manganyi, 19 Matt Gray, 20 Siyabonga Matanda, 21 Mckyle Volmoer, 22 Waqar Solaan, 23 Wian van Zyl.
Photo: Asem Engage