Varsity Cup: UP-Tuks stun Maties in Final
FINAL REPORT: Scrumhalf Bernard van der Linde scored a try at the death as UP-Tuks edged Maties 29-23 in a dramatic final staged in Stellenbosch.
This title victory equals the most number of Varsity Cup trophies won by a side, Maties and UP-Tuks have now each won the competition five times.
Maties went into this decider determined to channel the energy and aura of the Danie Craven Stadium. Meanwhile, UP-Tuks spoke about silencing the home crowd in their quest to win a second consecutive title.
While the home fans made their presence felt in the first half, they were more subdued in the second. The decision to award Van der Linde a late try – despite video replays which suggested that a pass in the build-up may have travelled forward – was not well received by the Maties faithful.
By contrast, the UP-Tuks fans at the ground rejoiced. The try, and ultimately the result, ensured that Nico Luus’ side claimed its second consecutive title. The Maties pack dominated the scrums and breakdowns in the first half, while the backs – flyhalf Nevaldo Fleurs in particular – converted pressure into territory and points.
UP-Tuks struggled to retain possession and were uncharacteristically porous on defence. While they came into this clash with plenty of intent and aggression, they lacked the necessary accuracy and discipline. The visitors conceded 11 penalties in the first half alone. Maties made the defending champs pay for their mistakes. An unmarked Mike Mavovana claimed a superb cross-kick by Taigh Schoor to score the opening try. Fleurs kicked five penalties to ensure that the hosts went to the break with a 20-10 lead.
The momentum shifted in the second stanza, however, after UP-Tuks delivered a more precise showing at the collisions and set pieces. Kabelo Mokoena scored in the 53rd minute to bring his side back into the contest. UP-Tuks crossed the line again – but were denied after Maties used their white card challenge to identify a knock-on in the build-up.
UP-Tuks continued to apply the pressure. When Mokoena scored his second try in the 70th minute, the visitors were within sight of a dramatic and unlikely victory. Maties failed to finish a scoring chance at the other end, and then allowed the visitors one final opportunity.
Coetzee launched an audacious attack from within his own half, and beat several defenders. The fullback managed to offload to Van der Linde, who showed exceptional pace to finish. Maties used their white card challenge to query the pass by Coetzee to Van der Linde.
TMO Egon Seconds ruled that the pass was not obviously forward, and so the decision to award the try was upheld. With this result, UP-Tuks have equalled FNB Maties’ record of five Varsity Cup titles.
Try: Mike Mavovana
Pens: Nevaldo Fleurs 6
Tries: Bernard van der Linde (2×7), Kabelo Mokoena 2
Con: Walter Visser
Pen: Stefan Coetzee
Player That Rocks: Stephan Smit (UP-Tuks)
Maties: 15 Adriaan van der Bank (captain), 14 Mike Mavovana, 13 Waqar Solaan, 12 Taigh Schoor, 11 Anton du Toit, 10 Nevaldo Fleurs, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Simon Miller, 7 Louw Nel, 6 Gift Dlamini, 5 Matt Gray, 4 Juan Beukes, 3 Matimu Manganyi, 2 Sean Swart, 1 Vernon Matongo.
Replacements: 16 Chris Rossouw, 17 Rhynhardt Rijnsburger, 18 Corné Weilbach, 19 Jesse Johnson, 20 Siyabonga Matanda, 21 Mckyle Volmoer, 22 Jurie Mathee, 23 Marcqiewn Titus.
UP-Tuks: 15 Stefan Coetzee, 14 Kabelo Mokoena, 13 Zander Reynders, 12 Lincoln Daniels (captain), 11 Tharquinn Manuel, 10 Walter Visser, 9 Bernard van der Linde, 8 Orateng Koikanyang, 7 Stephan Smit, 6 Dian Schoonees, 5 Divan Venter, 4 Mihlali Stamper, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Allister Williams, 1 Ethan Burger.
Replacements: 16 Werner Fourie, 17 André van der Merwe, 18 Daniël Wessels, 19 Justice Nkombua, 20 Hilton Gie, 21 Chad-Lee Valentine, 22 Keane Galant, 23 Ambesa Zenzile.
Varsity Cup tournament award winners:
Player That Rocks: George Lourens (UFS Shimlas)
Back That Rocks: Nevaldo Fleurs (Maties)
Forward That Rocks: Thabo Ndimande (UFS Shimlas)