With the dust having finally settled on the 2010 Varsity Cup Final, and yet another fantastic tournament, FNB UCT head coach John Dobson was understandably disappointed with the outcome of Monday night’s match.
The Ikey Tigers lost 14-17 to the FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium – handing the Men in Maroon a hat-trick of titles and, once again, resulting in heartbreak for the Men in Blue & White.
UCT, of course, went down 10-16 to a last-gasp try in the 2008 final – also in Stellenbosch – and UCT’s boss, sadly, was left ruing what might have been one more time…
“It would be unnatural not to be disappointed with our performance on Monday – especially the result,” Dobson told varsitycup.co.za.
“I accept that we played with guts and character, but the truth is that we did not play well, or cleverly, and not as well as three weeks ago. Maties deserve all the credit they get for their outstanding season and they had done their homework on us especially the manner in which they spread their defence meant that there were less of their wider holes.
“They obviously worked hard on their defence. We knew that would be the case and our plan was to be in the game with 20 to go and then as the defence tired we would start exploiting any gaps.
“It worked in that we sustained the pressure and were ready to attack, but then made too many mistakes when the game was for the taking but critically the loss of our captain and two of our best strikers in Therlow Pietersen and Sean van Tonder meant that we could not attack as we would have liked with a reshuffled backline.”
After trailing 6-12 at half-time, UCT outscored their hosts in the second half and kept fighting until the bitter end when referee Tiaan Jonker’s final whistle sounded.
It was, however, not to be for the Cape Town-based side, who have now not beaten the Maties – in the Varsity Cup – since 2008.
“Even after Sammy [Peter] scored with six to go I thought we had a good chance,” said the Ikeys mentor. “But then we coughed up the ball in two or three tackles and that was that…
“I was happy that we played side-to-side rugby on our 10m then, as eventually a Marcello or Mark would have snuck through and we would have gained 40 metres, but we could not hold the ball,” he added.
“The Maties played the breakdown well and certainly punished us for slowing the ball down there whilst we set our attack. We were silly then. I know people have questioned our tactics, but there has been a failure to appreciate what a nuisance that win was in the first half. It was very hard to kick for the territorial game which we lost badly so we played the possession game which we won. We also wanted to ask Maties to make more tackles so they were more tired in the last 15 minutes which they were, but they held us out very well.”
Despite his disappointment at falling short for a second time in a Varsity Cup Final, Dobson had nothing but praise for Stellenbosch. He concluded: “They must get the credit.
“I have found it churlish the way in this competition there is lack of magnanimity amongst the teams. Not every team the opposition scores is a ‘soft’ try. A try is a try. I do not bemoan a lucky bounce like happened to us – it is why rugby is played with an oval ball.
“If it is an intercept or a charge-down it means you were under pressure from the opposition. Teams play badly as a product of what the opposition does too. Like we had to read after we just lost to Maties a few weeks ago that Maties had a ‘vrot’ game or that Maties needed a wake-up call.
“There is a general lack of magnanimity sometimes. When we beat Pukke it was their worst game in two years apparently. We all need to give credit where it is due. And in this case to Maties… but we are definitely getting there.”
By Howard Kahn