MATIES BEAT UP-TUKS TO WIN BACK-TO-BACK VARSITY CUP TITLES
FNB Maties beat FNB UP-Tuks 34-12 in Stellenbosch on Monday to win the FNB Varsity Cup for a second-straight year.
In the process, ‘The Maroon Machine’ claimed a record-extending fifth title in the tournament’s 12-year history. It was also their first final win over UP-Tuks in four attempts.
Maties’ win was built on possession and territorial advantage which started from the moment referee Paul Mente blew the opening whistle.
Unsurprisingly, UP-Tuks’ defence gave way first. Following a succession of penalties kicked for the corner, Johann van Niekerk rumbled over in the right-hand corner after five minutes. Jordan Chait missed the corner to leave the score at 5-0.
Hawies Fourie’s boys then had to be patient for their next score, which came in the 32nd minute. Right wing Munier Hartzenberg dived in after the imperious centre Chris Smit cross-kicked to him. Chait converted this time and Maties held on to that 12-0 scoreline until halftime.
A 20 000-strong crowd packed into Danie Craven Stadium and the overwhelming majority of them were in raptures when Maties extended their lead to 21-0 after 49 minutes. Van Niekerk trotted in for his second, which Chait converted, after the play started in the home half and the ball was passed swiftly through the hands.
UP-Tuks came to life, however, following replacements on both sides after 53 minutes.
Two minutes later their right wing Dewald Naudé found himself on the left and dived over, following relentless pressure from his side. Tinus de Beer couldn’t slot the conversion, but at least Nollis Marais’ had a base from which to work – 21-5.
Naudé then dotted down again, in the 61st minute, on his wing and De Beer kicked the conversion to reduce the deficit to nine points, 21-12 – close enough for one long-distance try.
UP-Tuks’ hopes of continuing their comeback were all-but extinguished in the 66th minute when Vaughen Isaacs received a red card. The fullback attempted a chip-and-chase, but his tackle on Brendon Nell (who gathered the kick) was high and forceful leaving the refereeing team with only one decision to make.
Maties then did what they have throughout the season – finished strongest. First Chait knocked over a penalty, 24-12, then Munier Hartzenberg chipped and gathered to score his second try after 70 minutes. Chait converted and the score was now 31-12, leaving UP-Tuks frustrated.
That proved the case when they gave away a needless penalty with four minutes to play and Chait rounded off the scoring, handing Maties a comprehensive victory to complete their perfect season.
Post-match, centre Chris Smit was handed the overall FNB Player that Rocks award, while captain Chris Massyn took the award for the final and Edwill van der Merwe as the best back in 2019.
Tries: Van Niekerk 2, Hartzenberg
Cons: Chait 2
Pens: Chait 2
Tries: Naudé 2
Con: De Beer
Maties: 15 Reinhardt Fortuin, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 David Brits, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Chait, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Stephan Streicher, 7 Chris Massyn (capt), 6 Johann van Niekerk, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Zirk Jansen, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Wayrin Losper
Replacements: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Piet Strauss, 19 Mitchell Carstens, 20 Jesse Johnson, 21 Brendon Nell, 22 Anton du Toit, 23 Carlisle Nel
UP-Tuks: 15 Vaughen Isaacs, 14 Dewald Naude, 13 Lourens Pretorius, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Irvin Ali, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Theo Maree, 8 Denzel Hill, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Stephan Smit, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Marius Verwey (capt), 3 Jean-Pierre Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Etienne Janeke
Replacements: 16 Werner Fourie, 17 Jacobus Eloff, 18 Bart le Roux, 19 Brian Leitch, 20 Raegan Oranje, 21 Damian Bonaparte, 22 Xolisa Guma, 23 Ewart Potgieter
Referee: Paul Mente
Assistant referees: Divan Uys, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans