The Ikey Tigers and Cape rivals Maties fought for a dramatic 32-32 draw in their opening match of the FNB Varsity Cup.
Maties looked to have the game all wrapped up with seven minutes to go, but two quick tries from the men in blue saw them stage yet another dramatic comeback – something which they are becoming quite famous for.
Speaking to this odd phenomenon, UCT head coach Kevin Musikanth said “it's Ikey spirit – and what we stand for as a team. You can't control the score or the bounce of the ball but you can control whether you play to the end or not and our boys are very proud and keep playing.”
With the two sides level at half time, we asked the coach what was said to the boys at the break. “We actually felt composed at half time,” he said. “It was disappointing to have let in the soft try on the stroke of half time and we needed to bounce back quickly, which we did with a mark prior try.”
In terms of what he believes the team need to improve on, Musikanth noted “Definitely trusting out continuity. We don't have to force things. Sometimes it looked as if we were forcing plays.”
As with the momentous final in 2014, the replacement players made all the difference. “The bench provided brilliant impetuous and much needed energy,” the coach said. “Jason Klaasens, Guy Alexander and Michael Botha worked tirelessly throughout, and new caps Kyle Whyte, Khanyo Ngukana, Brendon Rodgers and Michael Kennedy did really well too.”
Finally, referring to their approach of the game in 2015, given that they are defending champs, he said “It's obviously more pressure in the sense that teams want to beat us, but at the same time we would rather be defending champs than not so, so it is pressure that we have learnt to deal with, and as the competition wears on this will fall away.”
“We have kept our fundamentals of honouring the themes of the week before,” he went on. “The theme was finding the love, or finding the connection which I think we did out there on Monday, so we are proud of our boys.”
Next week, the team travel to Pretoria to take on Tuks, in the second round of the tournament.