Wits claim Shield honours
REPORT: Wits solidified their promotion to the 2017 Varsity Cup competition by claiming a 39-2 victory over UWC to be crowned the 2016 Varsity Shield champions at the Wits Rugby Stadium.
Wits booked their spot in the final by finishing top of the table after the round-robin fixtures, thus securing themselves automatic promotion to the 2017 edition of the premier University tournament. UWC, who originally finished in third place on the log, found themselves handed second place after UKZN-Impi were docked 12 points for fielding an ineligible player.
The match began brightly for Wits as they bagged the lead within the first five minutes when scrumhalf Ruan Cloete found his way through UWC's defence to grab the opening try of the match. Flyhalf Warren Gilbert failed to add the extra points.
UWC were struggling to get their hands on the ball and ill-discipline led to them conceding numerous penalties. However, against the run of play, the Cape side pulled two points back when flyhalf Aidynn Cupido slotted a penalty.
This proved to be their only points of the match.
Kyle Weseman extended Wits' lead soon after when he benefitted from a dazzling Kwanele Ngema break as Wits began to turn the screws on their hapless opponents. Gilbert slotted his first conversion of the night to stretch Wits' lead to 13-2.
The stadium experienced a 30 minute power outage in the 23rd minute but that never stopped Wits' momentum as Gilbert continued to run the show. He slotted his first kick, a drop goal, from just inside UWC's 22 to extend his side's lead to 15-2.
Wits added their third try on the stroke of half-time when lock Graham Logan dotted down after a powerful driving maul. Gilbert slotted the conversion to hand Wits a commanding 23-2 lead at the break.
UWC found their rhythm in the second half but failed to take advantage as the match became more evenly contested and it took 20 minutes before any further points would be added. Wits hooker CJ Conradie forced his way over the line before No.8 Constant Beckerling added his name to scoresheet.
Gilbert slotted both conversions to hand Wits the victory and the title.
Tries: Cloete, Weseman, Logan, Conradie, Beckerling
Cons: Gilbert 4
Pen: A Cupido
Wits: 15 Luxolo Ntsepe, 14 Kwanele Ngema, 13 Joshua Jarvis, 12 Kyle Weseman, 11 Sicelo Champion, 10 Warren Gilbert, 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Constant Beckerling, 7 Conor Brockschmidt, 6 Ruan MacDonald, 5 Mitchell Fraser, 4 Graham Logan, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 Tijde Visser.
Replacements: 16 Craig Hume, 17 Ameer Williams, 18 Mitchell Crossman, 19 Ayabulela Mdudi, 20 Wian Coetzee, 21 Thato Marubela, 22 Adriaan van Blerk, 23 Brandon Palmer.
UWC: 15 Jacquin Moses, 14 Octovan van Staden, 13 Courtney Cupido, 12 Lubabalo Faleni, 11 Minenhle Mthethwa, 10 Aidynn Cupido, 9 Clayton Daniels, 8 Matthew Faught, 7 Jeremy Papier, 6 Vernon Treu, 5 Matthew le Roux, 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Tahriq Allen, 2 Peter Wanjiru, 1 Kelvin de Bruyn.
Replacements: 16 Keenan Douw, 17 Wayron Losper, 18 Sabelo Dlamini, 19 Byron Burgess, 20 Matthew Nortje, 21 Malikhaya Wana, 22 Monre Lingeveldt, 23 Robin Paulse.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni