Fullback Rhyno Smith kicked 19 points as Pukke beat UJ 35-7 to advance to their third Varsity Cup final in as many years. TYRONE ENGEL reports.
Pukke dominated early on and capitalised on the hosts’ errors to take a 29-7 lead into half-time. Pukke then prevented the home side from scoring after the break, while adding six points to their tally, to claim revenge after losing in Potchefstroom in round two.
Smith slotted a second-minute penalty to open the scoring for Pukke before a turnover from a UJ charge-down was collected by Pukke wing Lucian Cupido. The ball went wide and centre Sylvian Mahuza scored a seven-point try in the corner.
UJ got themselves on the board in the 33rd minute after sustained pressure on the Pukke line saw scrumhalf Devon Mare collect from the back of the scrum, about 10m out, and race in to score in the corner. Flyhalf Divan Nel converted to reduce the deficit to just five points.
But Smith slotted his second penalty goal before Mahuza collected UJ fullback Ronald Brown’s poor take under the high ball and ran in his second try, a nine-pointer. Smith then slotted a drop-goal from his own half to give the visitors a 22-point lead at the break.
The score remained unchanged at the second strategy break, on 60 minutes.
UJ again enjoyed the bulk of the possession, but were unable to convert it into points as the Pukke defence kept them out.
Smith scored the only points of the second half, kicking two penalties to secure the win.
UJ – Tries: Devon Mare. Conversions: Divan Nel.
Pukke – Tries: Sylvian Mahuza (2). Conversions: Rhyno Smith (2). Penalties: Smith (4). Drop goal: Smith.
UJ – 15 Ronald Brown, 14 Peter-John Walters, 13 Bradley Moolman, 12 Robert de Bruyn, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Devon Mare, 8 Jakobus Porter (c), 7 Johan Oosthuizen, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 David Antonites, 4 FP Pelser, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Johannes Snyman, 1 Siyakubonga Nzuzo.
Subs: 16 Emmanuel Morowane, 17 Kyle Kruger, 18 Jeremy Jordan, 19 Kyle van Dalen, 20 Hilton Mudariki, 21 Caswell Khoza, 22 Dominic Kroezen, 23 Waldo Weideman.
Pukke – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Lucian Cupido, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hendrik Marais, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Bernhard Janse van Rensburg, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (c), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Jaco Jordaan, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Loftus Morrison, 3 Bartholomeus le Roux, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Ruan Venter, 19 Christiaan Liebenberg, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Akhona Nela, 22 Elden Schoeman, 23 Mogau Mabokela.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images