It's Fort Hare v CPUT in the Final
VARSITY SHIELD WRAP: The UFH Blues and CPUT won their respective semifinals on Thursday to progress to the decider.
The Blues remain unbeaten after seven matches in 2022.
They will host CPUT – the reigning champions – in Alice next Thursday, April 21.
In the first of two semifinals staged at the Davidson Rugby Field on Thursday, CPUT were pushed to the brink in their 26-24 win against the UKZN Impi. CPUT won the territorial battle in the initial stages and their abrasive approach at the gainline forced the Impi to concede possession and penalties.
They took control of the contest after captain Siyasanga Ngubelanga scored from the back of a well-executed maul right before the strategy break. Six minutes later, Impi flyhalf Dawro Kock was sent to the sin bin for a reckless challenge. CPUT punished the 14-man side immediately, with hulking lock Moegamat Toffar swooping on a loose ball and crashing over the line.
The Impi conceded another try right before the break. Feghorn-Leigh Synders converted Darren Alexander’s score to extend CPUT’s lead to 19-10 at half-time. When Roland van der Heever powered through the defence in the 48th minute, the result appeared to be in the bag. The Impi refused to give up, though, and struck back through their talismanic winger Zamakhule Zulu.
CPUT began to lose focus. Reserve scrumhalf Hugan Engelbrecht was shown a yellow card for cynical play in the 56th minute. The Impi punished the transgression when they drove upfield and scored. In the space of 10 minutes, they had reduced the deficit from 16 points to two.
Both teams enjoyed opportunities to score in the closing stages, but failed to convert. CPUT repelled the Impi’s final surge, and then cleared the ball upfield. From there, they hung on to secure their place in the final.
* In the second playoff on Thursday, Fort Hare beat the WSU 19-16 in a fiercely contested Eastern Cape derby. The game marked a tribute – and a fitting one at that – to the late Fort Hare Director of Rugby Elliot Fana. The opening quarter was particularly physical. The Blues hurled themselves into the collisions, while the WSU refused to give an inch at the gainline.
The WSU lacked control, though, and replacement centre Yamkela Nyembe was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle after nine minutes. They conceded a penalty try after pulling down a Blues maul and lock Miyela Ngobeni received his team’s second yellow card of the game. Despite their poor discipline and the resultant loss of personnel, the WSU outmuscled the Blues and went to the break with an 11-7 lead.
The Blues scrummed their way back into the contest. After winning a series of set-piece penalties on the WSU’ tryline, they were awarded a penalty try. The WSU continued to attack. Lwandile Mapuko linked up with Sibusiso Hans to earn a 16-14 lead.
Mapuko – who had an excellent game in general play yet a poor night in front of goal – went on to miss a crucial conversion attempt. Fort Hare lost a number of lineouts in good field positions over the course of the game. In the 74th minute, however, they secured possession from a set piece deep in WSU territory.
From there, they patiently recycled the ball through the phases. Lock Walter Moyo eventually breached the defence to score the game-winning try.
The semifinal scores and scorers
CPUT 26-24 UKZN
Tries: Siyasanga Ngubelanga, Moegamat Toffar, Darren Alexander, Roland van der Heever
Cons: Feghorn-Leigh Snyders 3
Tries: Menzi Mabaso, Zamakuhle Zulu, Johan Maritz
Cons: Jarryd Nicholls 3
Pen: Dawro Kock
Player That Rocks: Roland van der Heever (CPUT)
UFH Blues 19-16 WSU
Tries: Penalty tries 2, Walter Moyo
Tries: Soyama Mini, Sibusiso Hans
Pens: Lwandile Mapuko 2
Player That Rocks: Lwandile Mapuko (WSU WSU)
Thursday, 21 April: UFH Blues v CPUT (19.00)
Photo credit: ASEM Engage