UCT were made to work hard for a 32-24 victory against newcomers UWC in their Varsity Cup opener in Cape Town on Monday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Playing at the Green Mile, Ikeys were favoured to claim a win over the newly promoted UWC. However, as coach Christiaan Esterhuizen pointed out, last season they tended to turn games into an arm-wrestle, which is what happened on Monday evening.
Chester Williams’ side definitely proved themselves in their first-ever Varsity Cup game and never looked out of it at any stage.
It was the home side that had to absorb plenty of pressure and they leaked plenty of penalties as they struggled to deal with the pace of the match.
If UWC can be criticised, it was that they were a bit too eager to play a loose game at times, as they countered at every opportunity, including from their own tryline.
This eagerness came back to bite them after a strategy breakdown when they handed UCT a 5m lineout. The hosts piled the pressure on the UWC line, wing Reitumetse Mogoje eventually reaching over in the corner.
However, the visitors hit back very quickly, and after a break from Tristan Leyds got them into Ikeys territory. Arendse sped over the line for their first Varsity Cup try.
UWC then received a blow when tighthead prop Justin Theys was sent to the sin bin for stamping. UCT laid another siege on the UWC line, winning four penalties in a row as the visitors defended desperately. UCT opted for a 5m scrum which they dominated, allowing scrumhalf Stef de Gouveia to snipe over the line and put them ahead at half-time.
The hosts came out firing in the second half, but were pressured into errors by the aggressive UWC defence. Worryingly for the hosts, captain Nama Xaba had to be helped from the field with an apparent leg injury.
UWC then went on the offensive, winning a scrum near Ikeys’ line, from where the ball went wide to Leyds, who stepped his way past a couple of tacklers to score.
In keeping with the topsy-turvy nature of the game, the home side hit straight back when Cuan Hablutzel made a linebreak, bringing them close to the tryline before the hooker muscled over for a seven-pointer. Fullback Darian Hock turned this into nine with his conversion.
The visitors were not going down without firing, though, and got themselves right back into the contest when wing Andre Manuel sprinted on to a chip over the defence to dot down in the corner.
Junior Boks centre Lyle Hendricks then slotted a penalty to give the visitors a one-point lead with just over 15 minutes to go.
However, UWC hearts were broken when Ikeys went coast-to-coast for a seven-point try, with tighthead prop Simon Raw rising ball in hand after powering over the line.
UCT – Tries: Reitumetse Mogoje, Stef de Gouveia, Cuan Hablutzel, Simon Raw. Conversions: Darian Hock (4).
UWC – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Tristan Leyds, Andre Manuel. Conversion: Lyle Hendricks (3). Penalty: Hendricks.
UCT – 15 Darian Hock, 14 Reitumetse Mogoje, 13 James Tedder, 12 Robbie Ball, 11 Thobekani Buthelezi, 10 Lohan Lubbe, 9 Stef de Gouveia, 8 Nyasha Tarusenga, 7 Josh Moon, 6 Nama Xaba (c), 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Gary Porter, 3 Simon Raw, 2 Cuan Hablutzel. 1 Ashwyn Adams.
Subs: 16 Ntando Mpofana, 17 Thomasz Rosenworth, 18 Brenton Greaves, 19 Duncan Saffy, 20 Tawi Mutuma, 21 Kyle Bowman, 22 Michael Brink, 23 Siba Mzanywa.
UWC – 15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lubelo Scott, 12 Lyle Hendricks, 11 Andre Manuel, 10 Aidynn Cupido, 9 Clayton Daniels, 8 Adrian Paarwater (c), 7 Reece Bocks, 6 Tyler Gessler, 5 Curtly Thomas, 4 Pieter-Steyl Swanepoel, 3 Justin Theys, 2 Jacques van Zyl, 1 Luvo Bazi.
Subs: 16 Luan de Randt, 17 Alexander Mbete, 18 Matthew le Roux, 19 Jaen-Louis de Lange, 20 Moeganmat Kannemeyer, 21 Keagan Fortune, 22 Juanré de Klerk, 23 Hendrik Pretorius.