Tuks claim their fourth title
VARSITY CUP FINAL REPORT: UP-Tuks survived a second-half fightback from UCT to claim a 34-27 victory in Pretoria on Monday.
It is Tuks’ fourth title, having previously won the competition in 2012, 2013 and 2017.
UCT came into the decider on a nine-match winning streak, excluding their cancelled Round Six fixture against UP-Tuks, who suffered two defeats during the league stage of the tournament.
But it was the hosts who won when it mattered most.
The opening 15 minutes of the Final saw the heavies run into wall after wall of defence, before UP-Tuks prop Cebo Dlamini barged his way over the tryline.
Ikeys counterpart Robert Hunt returned the favour in similar fashion eight minutes later.
Fullback Zander du Plessis and flyhalf James Tedder converted their respective efforts before an uncharacteristic error by the UCT backs was scooped up by pivot David Coetzer. The ball was shifted into the breadbasket of UP-Tuks captain and inside centre Sango Xamlashe, who tore down the left touchline to score a point-of-origin try.
Tedder cut into the deficit with a penalty goal just before the strategy break to keep UCT within touching distance.
The break proved effective if only to dull the match as a point-scoring lapse followed directly afterwards with the Ikey Tigers attempting to put together phase after phase against a resolute UP-Tuks defence.
A snap decision by UP-Tuks replacement scrumhalf Johan Mulder to snipe around the edge of a ruck was a masterstroke as it resulted in a try to lion-hearted prop Etienne Janeke several phases later.
Tedder left the field with a knee injury shortly afterwards to the collective groan of Cape Town.
Carrying the underdog tag throughout the weekend allowed the Stripe Generation a touch more freedom to just go and play, and it resulted in yet another try after the first half hooter to flank Hanru Sirgel. Du Plessis added the extras as UP-Tuks enjoyed a 31-10 half-time lead.
The Ikey Tigers’ ears should have been ringing after a tongue lashing due to their lacklustre performance in the first stanza and it took just three minutes for lock Byron Cranswick to profit off a powerful drive to score a try. Replacement flyhalf David Hayes was on target with the extras.
However, it was the UP-Tuks forwards who dominated, forcing UCT to lose six line-outs while the hosts jackled five balls by the 66th minute.
The Ikey Tigers finally took their opportunity as close-quarter fighting was whipped out wide to fullback Athi Gazi, who scored in the left corner. UP-Tuks No.8 Jaco Bezuidenhout was shown a yellow for cynical play, leaving the men from Pretoria to scramble in the final minutes.
Despite facing immense pressure on defence, Tukkies earned a penalty attempt which Griquas-bound Du Plessis slotted with ease, before Gazi bagged his brace.
That ultimately proved to be a consolation try as UP-Tuks were crowned 2021 champions.
Player That Rocks: Etienne Janeke (UP-Tuks)
For UCT Ikeys
Tries: Hunt, Chanswick, Gazi 2
Cons: Tedder, Hayes
Tries: Dlamini, Xamlashe (seven-point try), Janeke, Sirgel
Cons: Du Plessis 3
Pens: Du Plessis 2
UCT Ikeys: 15 Athi Gazi, 14 Rihaz Fredericks, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Le Roux Malan, 11 Rethabile Louw, 10 David Hayes, 9 William Rose, 8 Christian Stehlik, 7 Niel Otto, 6 Liam Greenhalgh (captain), 5 Matthew Grobler, 4 Byron Cranswick, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Devon Arendse, 1 Luthando Woji.
Replacements: 16 Josh van Vuuren, 17 Seth Christian, 18 Ashwyn Adams, 19 Byron Bowes, 20 Taariq Kruger, 21 Kyle Bowman, 22 Sibabalwe Mzanywa, 23 Duran Koevort.
UP-Tuks: 15 Zander du Plessis, 14 Stefan Coetzee, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Louritz van der Schyff, 11 Ambesa Zenzeli, 10 David Coetzer, 9 Clyde Lewis, 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Eduan Lubbe, 5 Thomas Meyer, 4 Mihlali Stamper, 3 Damien Swartz, 2 Werner Fourie, 1 Cebo Dlamini.
Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Donald, 18 Etienne Janeke, 19 Orateng Koikanyang, 20 Stephan Smit, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Enrique Oranje, 23 Tharquin Manuel.
Referee: Morne Ferreira
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Egon Seconds