UKZN beat Wits 26-18 in the opening match of the 2016 Varsity Shield, while UWC defeated Fort Hare University 15-8.
Wits drew first blood in a repeat of last year’s Varsity Shield final as winger Thato Marebula went over in the corner to score the first (unconverted) try for the visitors. UKZN flyhalf Curwin Bosch pulled some points back as he slotted a penalty from 40m out.
UKZN scrumhalf Jaywinn Juries scored the hosts' first try of the match, which Bosch converted to extend their lead to 10-5. Wits levelled the scores before the break when hooker CJ Conradie crossed for their second try. Wits scored early in the second half, but two more tries by UKZN gave the 2015 champions a repeat of last year’s final victory.
Meanwhile, UWC recorded their first win of the season as they outscored Fort Hare University three tries to one at Davidson Rugby Stadium in Alice.
UWC captain Philbrey Joseph scored the visitors' first try from the back of a strong driving maul after flyhalf Melikhaya Wana set a lineout 5m from Fort Hare’s tryline. The boys from Cape Town took a 5-0 lead into half-time.
Joseph scored his second try in the 62nd minute after some great handling by the UWC forwards following a strong attacking display. The victory was secured in the 78th minute when replacement scrumhalf Jason Marcus scored the visitors' third try. Fort Hare winger Asiphe Fihla scored a consolation try for the hosts after the hooter.
UKZN (26) – Tries: Jaywinn Juries, Michael Meyer, Tristan Blewitt. Conversion: Curwin Bosch (2), Morné Joubert. Penalty: Curwin Bosch.
Wits (18) – Tries: Thato Marubela, CJ Conradie, Constant Beckerling. Conversion: Warren Gilbert.
Forth Hare (8) – Tries: Asiphe Fihla. Conversion: Siviwe Bisset.
UWC (15) – Tries: Philbrey Joseph (2), Jason Marcus.
Photo: Varsity Cup