UCT turned in a convincing performance to claim a 54-36 semi-final victory over the NWU Eagles to qualify for their first Varsity Cup final since 2014.
Despite missing influential flyhalf James Tedder, who was ruled out on the day of the match through injury, the Ikey Tigers kept their composure and dominated the second half to claim a comfortable win.
It sees the Cape university progress to the Varsity Cup final for the first time since they last won the tournament in 2014, where they will meet UP-Tuks, who beat title-holders Maties earlier on Friday.
It didn’t look like UCT would be in for such a settled evening as they made a nervous start to the match. NWU took just a couple of minutes to score the game’s first try as flyhalf Nivan Petersen chipped the ball over the defence and close to the tryline, with 19-year-old wing Keano Windvogel outsprinted the cover defence to dive over.
Petersen converted and added a couple of penalties to give the Eagles a 15-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.
UCT got themselves on the scoreboard just before the 20th-minute strategy break when Gary Porter went over from behind a maul. They then scored another couple of tries through Le Roux Malan and No 8 Christian Stehlik to take the lead for the first time in the match.
That was short-lived as Eagles hooker Gustav du Randt scored in typical fashion from a maul for his ninth of the season, with Petersen’s conversion giving them a half-tine 22-20 lead.
However, NWU’s midweek encounter with CUT definitely seemed to come back to hurt them in the second half as they ran out of steam and were punished by UCT, who ran in three quickfire tries to go 40-22 ahead.
Du Randt take his overall tally in double digits with his second try in the second half. However, any hope that the Eagles had of a comeback were quickly snuffed out as substitute Kyle Bowman scored from the ensuring kick-off before Josh van Vuuren completed the rout with his brace.
UCT Ikeys – Tries: Gary Porter, Le Roux Malan, Christian Stehlik, Josh van Vuuren (2), David Hayes, Rihaz Fredericks, Kyle Bowman. Conversions: David Hayes (5), Kyle Bowman (2).
NWU Eagles – Tries: Keano Windvogel, Gustav du Randt (2), Caleb Louw. Conversions: Nivan Petersen (2), Riaan Genis (2). Penalty Petersen
UCT Ikeys – 15 Athi Gazi, 14 Rihaz Fredericks, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Le Roux Malan, 11 Rethabile Louw, 10 David Hayes, 9 William Rose, 8 Christian Stehlik, 7 Niel Otto, 6 Liam Greenhalgh (c), 5 Gary Porter, 4 Byron Cranswick, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Devon Arendse, 1 Luthando Woji.
Subs: 16 Josh van Vuuren, 17 Seth Christian, 18 Jovan Bekker, 19 Byron Bowes, 20 Taariq Kruger, 21 Kyle Bowman, 22 Sibabalwe Mzanywa, 23 Duran Koevort.
NWU Eagles – 15 Shane van Rooyen, 14 Sylvester Hassien, 13 Lincoln Daniels (c), 12 Marco Donges, 11 Keano Windvogel, 10 Nivan Petersen, 9 Riaan Genis, 8 Didintle Sekati, 7 Ruben Dreyer, 6 André Fouché, 5 Jeandré Leonard, 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Sampie Swiegers, 2 Gustav du Rand, 1 Ruben du Plessis.
Subs: 16 Vernon Paulo, 17 Rehann Baumann, 18 Arno Gustafson, 19 George van der Westhuizen, 20 Jandré de Beer, 21 Caleb Louw, 22 Kagiso Woodbridge, 23 Pienaar van Niekerk.