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Varsity Shield: Fort Hare upset the champions

ROUND FIVE WRAP: Migcobo Bovu scored a late intercept try to boost the UFH Blues to a shock 16-14 win over CPUT in Bellville on Friday.


CPUT appeared to be in control in the final stages, until the inside centre intercepted a loose pass and raced more than 80m to score.

Keith Chiwara’s conversion allowed the visitors to claim the lead, and ultimately the victory. As a result, the Blues will remain at the top of the Varsity Shield log. FNB dedicated the win to their director of rugby, Elliot Fana, who tragically passed away in a car accident on 22 March. The reigning champions backed their running game in the initial stages, but enjoyed limited success against a physical and well-organised Fort Hare defence.

The visitors bossed the scrums, and in spite of the windy conditions, Chiwara managed to convert this set-piece dominance into points. UFH led 9-7 at half-time. The battle at the breakdowns and collisions was particularly fierce. While they copped a hiding at the scrums, CPUT showed plenty of fight at the tackle to repel the Blues after the break. Fullback Caine Stadler finished a sweeping attacking move in the corner, and a touchline conversion by flyhalf Feghorn-Leigh Snyders gave the hosts a five-point lead going into the final quarter. Immediately after conceding seven points, the Blues copped their second yellow card of the match. Flank Rodney Chikamhi was sent to the sin bin for a head-butt.

CPUT enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the final 20 minutes. Christopher Andrews looked to have scored the match-winning try, but the TMO ruled that the wing had failed to ground the ball. Following Bovu’s intercept and Chiwara’s conversion, there was further drama as UFH conceded a penalty after the hooter. The long-range attempt by Snyders, however, was wide of the posts. Fort Hare have now extended their winning streak to five matches.

In the first match of the day, left wing Devandre Adendorf scored a brace to help the UKZN Impi beat Rhodes 29-21. The Impi started the game with a powerful wind at their backs. They failed to capitalise on that advantage, however, and were guilty of poor handling and worse discipline during the first half. The Stallions eventually escaped their own territory and finished the first stanza with an 11-7 lead. Their determination was best illustrated by replacement prop Athenkosi Nkewana, who repelled several defenders to score an important try before the break.

UKZN proceeded to up the tempo and the intensity in the second half and earned some reward when Adendorf touched down for his first try. They continued to attack FNB Rhodes at the scrum, and it was from the back of this set piece that No.8 Tinotenda Mazhindu powered over the line to put his team in charge. The Stallions refused to accept defeat. Fullback Jano Roux intercepted a loose pass by the Impi and raced the length of the field to regain the lead.


UKZN didn’t panic, though, and continued to win penalties at the scrum. Further tries by Adendorf and inside centre Gacula Poswa secured the win and the bonus point. When outside centre Jarryd Nicholls converted Poswa’s try, he stretched the Impi’s lead to eight points. Roux had the chance to kick a late penalty – and earn his team a losing bonus point – but the attempt drifted wide.

In the final fixture of the day, the WSU All Blacks ground out a 19-5 win against DUT. WSU scored 22 tries in their 136-11 thrashing of tournament debutants DUT in the opening match of last year’s FNB Varsity Shield. However, DUT have improved tremendously since 2021, beating Rhodes in their opening match of the 2022 campaign. And on Friday night, the Durbanites made their Eastern Cape opponents work hard for their win.

WSU dominated possession in the first quarter, but had to wait until the 18th minute to open the scoring when flank Ayabulela Zono beat four defenders on his way to the tryline. The All Blacks extended their lead to 12-0 late in the half when left wing Tebogo Madigoe’s try in the right corner was converted by flyhalf Lisolethu Valisi. DUT pushed hard for a try in first-half stoppage time and would have been aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty for an apparent late tackle after the ball had been kicked ahead. Fullback Lwandile Mapuko scored WSU’s third try at the end of the third quarter, before DUT finally got on a board through lock Alberth Kapenda with nine minutes remaining.

However, for all their efforts, DUT missed out on a losing bonus point and remain bottom of the combined 2021-2022 Varsity Shield log, two points behind Rhodes. The team that finishes last on this log will drop out of the tournament at the end of the season. WSU, meanwhile, are fourth on the 2022 log and heading for the semifinals.


Varsity Shield Round Five results and scorers:

UKZN Impi 29-21 Rhodes

The scorers:

For UKZN Impi:
Tries: Nhlakanipho Mathonsi, Devandre Adendorf 2, Tinotenda Mazhindu, Gacula Poswa
Cons: Dawro Kock, Jarryd Nicholls

For Rhodes:
Tries: Athenkosi Nkewana, Jano Roux
Con: Jano Roux
Pens: Roux 3

Player That Rocks: Jano Roux (Rhodes)

CPUT 14-16 UFH Blues

The scorers:

Tries: Christopher Andrews, Caine Stadler
Cons: Feghorn-Leigh Snyders 2

For UFH Blues:
Try: Migcobo Bovu
Con: Keith Chiwara
Pens: Chiwara 3

Player That Rocks: Caine Stadler (CPUT)

WSU 19-5 DUT

The scorers:

For WSU:
Tries: Ayabulela Zono, Bubele Gongqa, Lwandile Mapuko
Cons: Lisolethu Valisi 2

For DUT:
Try: Alberth Kapenda

Player That Rocks: Lwandile Mapuko (WSU)

Photo credit: ASEM Engage/Luigi Bennett

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