Tuks secure home final
FNB UP-Tuks survived a second-half resurgence by FNB UFS-Shimlas to win their semi-final of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International 28–21 at the Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday.
It was the visitors who raised the stakes in the opening minutes as they attacked in waves causing Tuks to scramble in defence.
A cheeky quick tap by scrumhalf Dian Badenhorst almost resulted in a try to Shimlas but the television match official adjudged the ball to have been lost forward. This spurred the home team to get their act together, which culminated in flyhalf Tinus de Beer exploiting a gap to put wing Sibahle Maxwane into space to score the opening try in the 12th minute.
Both teams attempted to attack on either side of the first strategy break but neither was able to crack the defensive line.
Maxwane was the man to change the status quo in the 26th minute when he made his way past several defenders to score his second try of the night and Tuks’ first seven-point try.
A fantastic kick-and-chase by fullback Divan Rossouw several minutes later put the men from Pretoria in the right space to exploit Shimlas’ defensive weaknesses, enabling scrumhalf and captain Andre Warner to score the home team’s third try of the evening.
An intercept by fullback Marco Mason on the visitors’ five-metre line allowed the abrasive runner to gallop up-field and set the tone for flanker Phumzile Maqondwana to open the Shimlas’ account with minutes left in the first half. Mason converted to cut the halftime deficit to 23–9.
The halftime chat must have been gruelling for the visitors, as they came out of the change room a different team and put Tuks under the cosh.
Several penalties against the Pretoria students allowed Shimlas to set up a line-out drive which saw replacement hooker Hanno Snyman cross the line.
Tuks were forced to contain the visitors’ onslaught with 14 men, after flank Marco van Staden was yellow-carded in the 52nd minute for repeated team transgressions.
This set the platform for Shimlas to score their third try through lock Neil Claassen. Mason could not level the scores as his conversion went wide.
As in the first half, both teams struggled to break through the defensive line on either side of the strategy break, but this did not stop the two universities from running flat out at each other.
The deadlock was finally broken when hooker Corniel Els broke off the back of a dominant Tuks driving maul to score in the 72nd minute. De Beer could not extend the lead.
Shimlas continued to press hard on attack in the final minutes of the match, with the visitors making regular inroads into the opposition’s territory, but in the end, it was not to be as Tuks held on to win 28–21 and thus secure a home final against FNB Maties.
FNB Player that Rocks: Tinus de Beer (FNB UP-Tuks)
FNB UP-Tuks: 28 Tries: Sibahle Maxwane (five-point, seven-point), Andre Warner, Corniel Els
Cons: Tinus de Beer (3) Yellow cards: Marco van Staden
FNB UFS-Shimlas: 21 Tries: Phumzile Maqondwana (seven-point), Hanno Snyman, Neil Claassen
Cons: Marco Mason (2)
– Author Dan Lombard
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Tuks secure home final (Photo credit: Varsitysport.com)