Tuks went to the top of the Varsity Cup log with a 28-0 victory over NWU in Potchefstroom on Monday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The champions of 2017 sent a message to their title rivals with their best performance of the season at the Fanie du Toit Stadium.
The win sees Tuks open up a four-point gap between themselves and their opponents, while the Pretoria team has also gone equal on points with defending champions and log leaders Maties, and are currently ahead of them on points difference.
Tuks started on a high, seeing all the possession and creating havoc through their centre pairing of Erich Cronje and Lourens Pretorius.
Once they broke into the NWU 22, Tuks stayed there for a number of phases, winning three kickable penalties which they turned down in search of the opening try. That decision was justified as a strong maul saw hooker Johann Grobbelaar go over.
NWU brought some pressure of their own and won a couple of penalties which they kicked to the corner. However, their lineout was often disrupted by the Tuks second-row pairing of Ruan Nortje and Marius Verwey preventing them from capitalising fully.
There was an interesting tactical battle between the flyhalves, Tinus de Beer and Schalk Hugo. Both possess excellent tactical kicking abilities. While Hugo kept Tuks pinned in their 22 with some good attacking kicks, De Beer ensured that the visitors eased the pressure with some good clearing punts downfield.
Grobbelaar won a breakdown penalty which De Beer slotted for Tuks to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The game became a bit scrappy as NWU tried to get back into it, but were repelled by a strong Tuks defence.
Tuks then went on the offensive and took the ball through 15 phases before De Beer slotted his second penalty to make it 11-0 at half-time.
The visitors continued their momentum in the early stages of the second half, with De Beer kicking his third penalty to make it a 14-point deficit.
NWU’s malfunctioning lineout again came back to bite them as Tuks were able to poach one in the home side’s 22, and after a number of phases Damian Bonaparte reached over for the second try of the match.
The hosts went looking for a score to get back into the match, but were well held out, with De Beer utilising his boot to good effect. It did not help that NWU abandoned their usual structured game plan as the match became more frenetic.
The game was sealed when the hosts gave away possession just outside their own 22, with Tuks replacement lock Brian Leitch sprinting through a gap to dot down.
Tuks – Tries: Johann Grobbelaar, Damian Bonaparte, Brian Leitch. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (3). Penalties: De Beer (3).
NWU – 15 Shane van Rooyen, 14 Lungelo Goa, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 AK Nela, 11 Lincoln Daniels, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Wian Conradie, 7 Reuben du Plooy, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Jan du Plooy, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Matimu Manganyi, 2 Louis ‘Chucky’ van der Westhuizen (c), 1 Botter Moloto.
Subs: 16 Marius Stander, 17 Nelius Theron, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Wandile Mazibuko, 20 Edmund Rheeder, 21 Eugene Hare, 22 BF van Staden, 23 Nkululeko Mcuma.
Tuks – 15 Damian Bonaparte, 14 Irvin Ali, 13 Lourens Pretorius, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Ciaran Dayaran, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Theo Maree, 8 Denzel Hill, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Stephan Smit, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Marius Verwey (c), 3 JP Smith, 2 Cornelius Grobbelaar, 1 Etienne Janeke.
Subs: 16 Werner Fourie, 17 Jacobus Eloff, 18 Bart le Roux, 19 Brian Leitch, 20 Raegan Oranje, 21 Christo Hamman, 22 Xolisa Guma, 23 Mihlali Stamper.