Pukke win first VC title in dramatic fashion
REPORT: It took 10 extra minutes after the full-time hooter for NWU-Pukke to score a converted try and claim their first-ever Varsity Cup title, with a 7-6 scoreline, against Maties in Stellenbosch on Monday.
The game will surely go down in history as one of the most thrilling finals.
Maties were leading 6-0 going into the final two minutes of the game, but their inferior scrum ultimately cost them in the end - with Pukke piling on the pressure until the Maties' defence finally cracked - with Marno Redelinghuys getting the deciding try.
It was a nervy start by both teams. However, there was no shortage of attacking rugby in the opening 10 minutes.
Both teams had attacking forays into the opposition half. However, some stern defence meant the match remained scoreless until the first strategy break on the 20-minute mark.
While their defence was strong, Maties were struggling in the set pieces and were also put under immense pressure at the breakdowns by the highly physical Pukke side.
With their powerful forward pack, Pukke came close to scoring on the half-hour mark after a couple of driving mauls close to the Maties' tryline. However, the home side managed to keep them at bay once again.
Maties would go on to finish the first half the brighter and they had a chance to get a score just before half-time, however, Pukke captain Jeandre Rudolph made a crucial steal five metres from his own tryline to keep the home side out.
Maties looked the better side at the start of the second half and after some sustained pressure in the Pukke 22, they were awarded a penalty which flyhalf Chris Smith sent between the uprights to give his team a 3-0 lead.
The home side were further in front a few minutes later when Smith slotted another penalty to push the lead out to six points.
There was nervy play by both sides after that with no one able to add any further points before the second strategy break.
After the strategy break, Maties nearly took the game by the scruff of the neck when replacement back Brandon Asher-Wood gathered a kick and sprinted down the touchline and dived over in the corner. However, the TMO ruled that he lost the ball forward.
Maties dominated possession and territory and could have found themselves further in front, however, flyhalf Smith sent a penalty kick wide with seven minutes left.
With less than three minutes left, Pukke thought they got a seven-point try after replacement Johan Deysel collected a ball which was chipped ahead by fullback Rhyno Smith and dove over the tryline. However, after a TMO decision and a white card it was ruled that he lost the ball forward.
The visitors were given another opportunity when they got possession back through a scrum penalty. With Pukke having the stronger scrum, they called for the set piece on a number of occasions after getting penalty after penalty.
With all that pressure, Maties' centre Barend Smit was yellow carded for playing the ball from an offside position with Pukke calling for another scrum.
With the game well in over time. Maties scrumhalf Remu Malan was yellow carded as well for offside play. Playing with 13 men was just too much for the home side with Redelinghuys scoring a try after sustained pressure. Smith the stepped up to convert the try, handing Pukke their first title.
Pens: Smith 2
Yellow cards: Barend Smit (Maties, 83 - cynical play, playing the ball from offside position), Remu Malan (Maties, 88 - repeated infringements, offside)
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Paul Streicher, 12 Barend Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Chris Smith 9 Remu Malan, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Janco Venter, 6 Beyers de Villiers (captain), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Ian Groenwald, 3 JE van der Merwe, 2 Freddie Kirsten, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Robey Labuschagne, 19 Saud Abrahams, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Kyle Steyn, 22 Brandon Asher-Wood, 23 Johannes Kleinhans.
NWU-Pukke: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Lucian Cupido, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hendrik Marais, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (captain), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Jaco Jordaan, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Neil Morrison, 3 Bartholomeus le Roux, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Ruan Venter, 19 Christiaan Liebernberg, 20 Kurshwill Williams, 21 Akhona Nela, 22 Johan Deysel, 23 Mogau Mabokela.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Shaun Veldsman