Pukke got their title defence off to a solid start with a 16-12 victory over UJ in Johannesburg in the opening round of the Varsity Cup, while there were also wins for Shimlas, Tuks and NMMU.
The defending champions from Potchefstroom were made to work hard for their win against an inspired UJ side.
The opening few minutes were evenly matched as both sides failed to break the deadlock. But a break down infringement cost UJ when flyhalf Schalk Hugo put Pukke on the board with a penalty. Pukke added to their tally moments later when wing Jimmy Mpailane sliced through UJ’s defence to score a converted effort.
UJ mounted a comeback, which coincided with Pukke’s discipline meltdown and soon Divan Nel put the hosts in the lead with four successful penalties for a 12-10 scoreline.
But Hugo had the final say. He slotted two match-winning penalty goals in the final quarter to secure the win for Pukke.
Elsewhere in Johannesburg, Wits gave a good account of themselves in their first Varsity Cup outing, but ultimately their effort wasn’t enough as they lost 26-21 to Shimlas. Wing Marco Mason contributed nine points for Shimlas via a try and two conversions.
In Cape Town, NMMU caused a big upset when they hammered UCT 36-8. And in Pretoria, a late try helped Tuks snatch a hard-fought 13-9 victory over Maties.
Varsity Cup results (Round 1):
UJ (12) – Penalties: Divan Nel (4).
Pukke (16) – Try: Jimmy Mpailane. Conversion: Schalk Hugo. Penalties: Hugo (3).
Wits (21) – Tries: Kwanele Ngema, Graham Logan, CJ Conradie. Conversions: Warren Gilbert (2).
Shimlas (26) – Tries: Marco Mason, Dian Badenhorst, Niell Stannard, Francois Steyn. Conversions: Mason (2).
Tuks (13) – TBC
Maties (9) – TBC
UCT (8) – TBC
NMMU (36) – TBC