Third time's the charm for Pukke
REACTION: NWU-Pukke hoisted their first Varsity Cup title at the third time of asking when they travelled to Stellenbosch and edged Maties 7-6 at the Danie Craven Stadium.
Pukke headed into the 2016 Final with fresh memories of their two previous losses - UCT-Ikeys in 2014 and UFS-Shimlas in 2015 Final. However, those wounds have now healed.
Under the guidance of former Springbok Sevens captain, Johnathan Mokuena, the Potchefstroom students finally broke their duck and he credits the players' belief rather than "Mokuena magic."
"[The victory] is definitely not Mokuena magic, I think the boys really believed [they could win] because they did all the hard work. My job was simply to get them to believe because they really wanted it. It was a massive team performance.
"The message [to the team] was that we never wanted doubt to creep in. It's a Final and opportunities would be scarce but we needed to stick with our game plan and when it mattered, we took the chance. Credit to the players though, they saw the pressure they were putting on Maties at scrum time and kept plugging away," Mokuena said.
Mokuena added that two key factors contributed to their victory.
"Conceding 50 points against Maties [earlier in the campaign] was our turning point because after that, we dug deep and spirits were lifted.
"The one thing that counted in our favour was the lead up to the final. We pretty much had knock-out matches all along. We had to beat UCT, we had to beat Shimlas, we had to beat UJ and I think that helped us prepare better with regards to being under the pump for 80 minutes," he added.
Pukke captain, Jeandre Rudolph, reserved special praise for Mokuena's predecessor, current Sharks assistant coach Robert du Preez.
"Credit must go to Robert du Preez. He played his part in the two previous finals, so this victory is for him as well," Rudolph stated.
By Tauriq Ebrahim