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Varsity Cup: Defending champs off to winning start

ROUND ONE WRAP: NWU Eagles got the defence of their title off to a winning start in the first round of the 2024 Varsity Cup competition with a hard-fought away victory over Maties.

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UCT Ikeys beat UFS Shimlas in Bloemfontein and CUT did the same with UJ while Wits trashed newcomers UWC in Cape Town.

MATIES 12–23 NWU EAGLES

Varsity Cup Champions NWU Eagles got the defence of their title off to an almost perfect start after beating Maties 20-12 in front of a packed Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

Despite it being a rather low-scoring affair, the Eagles were full value for being the more industrious team on the attack. The visitors also put up a staunch showing on defence to shut out a Maties attack that at times seemed toothless and without the real X-factor.

It was the Eagles who had all the right moves, with the playmaking pair of Aphelele Mdaka (scrumhalf) and Zinedine Robinson (flyhalf) pulling the string. The Eagles also played with a bit of reckless abandon, with flyhalf Zinedine Robinson not afraid to send the ball out wide for his wingers to chance their arm.

The attacking pressure would eventually pay off in the 21st minute when Robinson threw a lovely inside pass to left wing Naiden Jaarts to score the Eagles’ first try and silence a partisan Maties crowd. And nine minutes later the Eagles would extend their lead when Ezekiel Ngobeni crashed over for the visitors’ second five-pointer.

In the 35th minute, changes by Maties coach Kabamba Floors paid off when Vernon Matongo crashed over after a pick-and-go in front of the Eagles’ tryline.

The start to the second half mirrored that of the first, with no team able to get an early breakthrough in terms of points scoring. The only difference was that Maties seemed to have the upper hand, with the Eagles having to soak up the pressure with desperate defence.

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A second Robinson penalty in the 67th minute would add to the scoreboard pressure, with Maties running out of answers on attack. And when Charles Wiliams slotted a third penalty to further extend the Eagles’ lead, the writing was on the wall. Not even a consolation score by Zuko Poswa in extra time could hide the disappointment on his Maties teammates’ faces.

The scorers:

For Maties:
Tries: Vernon Matongo, Zuko Poswa.
Con: Juan Mostert.

For NWU Eagles :
Tries: Naiden Jaarts, Ezekiel Ngobeni.
Cons: Zinedine Robinson 2
Pens: Robinson 2, Charles Williams.

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Player That Rocks: Zinedine Robinson (NWU Eagles)

Teams:

Maties: 15 Hofmeyr Gideon Retief, 14 Paschal Uzoma Ekeji, 13 Ryan Marcus Manuel, 12 Aydon Colin Topley, 11 Matthew Emile van Schalkwyk, 10 Juan Mostert, 9 Ezekiel Mzamane Ngobeni, 8 Roland Leonard van der Heever, 7 Louw Nel, 6 Eric Chris Basson, 5 Matthew Gray, 4 Matthys Jacobus Bernardus Kitshoff, 3 Friedrich Cornelius Weilbach, 2 Siyasanga Ngubelanga, 1 Prince Rotondwa Mulea.

NWU: 15 Shaun-Christian Baxter, 14 Keano Ricardo Windvogel, 13 Matthew Luke Fortuin, 12 Arnoldus Christiaan Vlok, 11 Naiden Jaarts, 10 Zinedine Robinson, 9 Aphelele Emihle Madaka, 8 Calvin Clack, 7 Tian van Zyl, 6 Arminn Posthumus, 5 Franco Marais, 4 Stephan Krugel, 3 Ntobeko Thabiso Shezi, 2 Chyle van Zyl, 1 Matome Molebogeng Manyama.

IKEYS 38–32 UFS SHIMLAS

UCT Ikeys drew first blood in the 2024 Varsity Cup by beating UFS Shimlas 38-32 in a hard-fought contest in Bloemfontein.

The Shimlas outscored the visitors in the tries department, but it was ultimately their discipline that let them down as the left wing for the Ikeys, Ntokozo Makhaza landed no less than seven penalties.

The home team were the first to score with tighthead Riaan van der Merwe crashing over for an unconverted try. The team from the Mother City struck back almost immediately with a double whammy with flanks Taariq Kruger and Siphumezo Dyonase both crossing the tryline.

Kwezi Dlamini, who is expected to do well this season, scored for the Shimlas from a quick tap, while Makhaza slotted two penalties for the visitors.

Zane Bester’s try for Shimlas made it a one-point ball game, but Makhaza nailed another penalty for the Ikeys to hand them a 21-17 lead at the break.

In the second stanza, starting flyhalf Ethan Wentzel and scrumhalf Jandré Nel managed to score two more tries for the hosts. It was however cancelled out by a try from the Player That Rocks, Rethabile Louw, and a further four penalties off the boot of Makhaza.

The scorers:

For UFS Shimlas:
Tries: Riaan van der Merwe, Kwezi Dlamini, Zane Bester, Ethan Wentzel, Jandré Nel
Cons: Ethan Wentzel 2
Pens: Bradley Giddy

For UCT Ikeys
Tries: Taariq Kruger, Siphumezo Dyonase, Rethabile Louw.
Cons: Ntokozo Makhaza
Pens: Makhaza 7

Player That Rocks: Rethabile Louw (UCT Ikeys)

Teams:

UFS Shimlas: 15 Michael Annies, 14 Kirwin Curtley du Preez, 13 Zane Bester, 12 Gideon Jooste Nel, 11 Siviwe Zondani, 10 Ethan SJ Wentzel, 9 Jandré Nel, 8 Kwezi Dlamini, 7 Siyambuka Sobe Nakhane Ningiza, 6 Cornelius Hermanus Smit Volschenk, 5 Reinier Viljoen, 4 Pierre-Raymond Uys, 3 Riaan Jacobus van der Merwe, 2 Liyema Mgwigwi, 1 Ntokozo Hlophe.

UCT Ikeys: 15 Duran Ryan Koevort, 14 Luke John Burger, 13 Rethabile Donovan Louw, 12 Joshua Boulle, 11 Ntokozo Sibusiso Makhaza, 10 Kian Davis, 9 Riaan Genis, 8 Laro Delport, 7 Taariq Mohammed Kruger, 6 Siphumezo Dyonase, 5 Johan van Rhyn, 4 Enos Ndiao, 3 Bryan Justin le Roux, 2 Keagan Blanckenberg, 1 Mhleli Khethuxolo Khuzwayo.

CUT 23–19 UJ

Dogged defending from CUT as well as poor discipline from UJ handed the former a handy 23-19 victory at home in Bloemfontein.

Early penalties by Juan Arnold Smith gave the Ixias breathing room with the Orange Army shut out for the whole of the first half. Speedster Zachery Bester sliced through the visiting defence to score the first try of the game.

A second-half resurgence from UJ ensured that the game wasn’t without its twists.

Tries from UJ’s Prince Nkabinde, Likhaya Tengimfene and Marius Coetzee kept the pressure on the hosts.

Ultimately, Ixias stayed strong at the back to remain unbeaten against their opponents since 2019.

The scorers:

For CUT:
Tries: Zachery Bester, Adielson Gouveia
Pens: Juan Arnold Smith 2, Christiaan Rheeder.

For UJ:
Tries: Prince Nkabinde, Likhaya Tengimfene, Marius Coetzee
Cons: Rowan Malgas

Player That Rocks: Janco Cloete (CUT)

Teams:

CUT: 15 Natanael Young, 14 Adielson Gouveia, 13 Liam Prinsloo, 12 Septimus Dercksen, 11 Zachery Bester, 10 Juan Arnold Smith, 9 Triveno Swartz, 8 Jacobus Johannes Cloete, 7 Tsebano Edward Stemer, 6 Tjaart Jurie van der Walt, 5 Kevin Strydom, 4 Asekho Phindile Marubelela, 3 Sisipho Nofuya, 2 Tokelo Oratile Ntaopane, Albertus Human Venter.

UJ: 15 Boldwin Hansen, 14 Meyer Kriel, 13 Siphesihle Austin Nkabini, 12 Likhaya Tengimfene, 11 Prince Nkabinde, 10 Rowan Malgas, 9 Kgothatso Sono, 8 Kamohelo Rorisang Molefe, 7 Philip Apea Adu, 6 Testimony Boluwatife Dodo, 5 Marius Coetzee, 4 Tiaan Wessels, 3 Heiko Peter Eugene Pohlmann, 2 Mauritz Swart, 1 Roedolf Fouche Schoeman.

UWC 10-66 Wits

It was a near-perfect start for Wits when they outsmarted newcomers UWC 66-10 in Bellville at the UWC Sport Stadium. A healthy 31-10 halftime lead meant the visitors had secured the bonus point when the siren sounded.

Nine tries to a solo 38th-minute try from UWC’s lock Louan De Lange is a testament to an all-around clinical and disciplined display of rugby by the visiting side.

Relentless attacking phases by the visiting side forced the home team to make several tackles in the opening quarter of the match with loose forward Kelvin Kanenungo and scrumhalf Hassiem Pead making sure Wits got across the advantage with ease.

The home side’s woes were compounded when their captain Tasriq Mynhardt sustained an injury in the first half forcing him off the field.

Wits scored three tries to one in the final ten minutes of the opening stanza. Ngia Selengbe, Pead, and veteran lock Cal Smid added their names to the try-scoring sheet. Setshaba Mokoena kept the scoreboard ticking over with three successful conversions from his five attempts.

The visitors picked up the pace where they left it in the opening half, Grobbelaar completing a brace of tries with a try apiece coming from Kabelo Mokheti and Elizee Kwitonda. Mokoena’s accuracy off the tee kept the distance between the two sides growing on the scoreboard.

As the final ten minutes of the match approached, Wits crossed the 50-point mark when Kwitonda crashed over from close range.

UWC made a few promising runs but the defensive resolve and discipline from the visitors meant that they were restricted to a solo first-half try.

The scorers:

For UWC:
Tries: Louan De Lange
Con: Conwill Conradie
Pen: Conradie

For Wits:
Tries: Marno Grobbelaar 2, Kelvin Kanenungo, Ngia Selengbe, Hassiem Pead, Cal Smid, Kabelo Mokheti, Elizee Kwitonda, DeWet Fourie 2
Cons: Setshaba Mokoena 5, Tireque Apolles

Player That Rocks: Mark Snyman (Wits)

Teams

UWC: 15 Tasriq Mynhardt, 14 Will Bradford Vraagom, 13 Zhaun-Jacques Johan Brynard, 12 Emile Silvis, 11 Hlomla Ncana, 10 Aaron Benjamin Swartz, 9 Conwill Brooklyn Conradie, 8 Romuad Nsombamanya, 7 Louan De Lange, 6 Almore Abraham Scott Kuilders, 5 Carel van der Merwe, 4 Michail Kasfikis, 3 Keanuh Cameron Michaels, 2 James Hermann Coetzee, 1 Hlonela Qelile.

Wits: 15 Setshaba Mohlakoane Mokoena, 14 Dustyn Matthew Holmes, 13 Ngia Selengbe, 12 Mark Dilan Snyman, 11 Liyema Matyolweni, 10 Kabelo Mokhethi, 9 Mogamad Hassiem Pead, 8 Lindokuhle Ncusane, 7 Dewet-Grant Fourie, 6 Kelvin Kanenungo, 5 Cal Smid, 4 George Lawson St Leger Devenish, 3 Sibusiso Shongwe, 2 Marno Grobbelaar, 1 Elizee Kwitonda.

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