FNB UCT Ikey Tigers and FNB Maties played to a dramatic 32-32 draw in the final match of the opening round of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Maties looked to have the game in the bag with seven minutes remaining in the match but two quick tries from Ikeys saw them stage another dramatic comeback, this time to claim a hard-fought draw.
There was a high intensity from the start as Ikeys looked to keep ball-in-hand and make their way up the field but were kept at bay courtesy of big tackles from the Maties defence.
Ikeys broke the deadlock in the fourth minute when Dylan Sage intercepted a pass inside Maties’ 22 to canter over for the first try of the match. Warren Seals added the extra points as Ikeys held an 8-0 lead after five minutes.
Maties got their hands on the ball and inched their way up the field before Ernst Stapelberg crossed the line thanks to sustained pressure on the Ikeys defence, however, the try wasn’t awarded as he was deemed to have lost the ball in his attempt to place it across the line.
The Stellenbosch students enjoyed the majority of possession after the Strategy Break and were camping in Ikeys’ territory, but couldn’t find a way through a stubborn defence, who had the partisan crowd in full voice with every tackle made by the home side.
Maties scored against run of play in 39th minute when a quick tap penalty from Jean Nel saw him make a few metres before releasing JP Lewis, who showed electrifying pace down the left touchline and crossed the try line unopposed. Stapelberg added the conversion to level matters as the teams went into the halftime break all square at 8-8.
UCT replicated their firsthalf start by getting over the try line four minutes after the restart when Mark Prior crashed over from close range. Seals restored Ikeys’ eight point lead when he slotted the conversion to make the score 16-8.
Kobus van Dyk levelled the scores in the 52nd minute when he showed his strength to hold off two defenders and stretch his way over the line. Brandon Thomson added the conversion to take the score to 16-16. It was all Maties from that point as they took the game to the hosts.
Maties added their third try a few minutes later when Lewis scored his second try of the match. The wing sprinted, stepped and spun his way out of several tackles to hand his side the lead. Thomson added his second conversion of the match to give the visitors a 24-16 after 57 minutes.
All the momentum was with Maties at this stage and they found their reward in the 66th minute when Craig Barry stepped his way past the last defender and stumbled his way over the line to hand Maties the bonus point. Thomson kept his 100 percent kicking record intact to stretch the lead to 32-16.
UCT were not going down without a fight and got themselves back into the match in the 72nd minute when Guy Alexander muscled his way over the line. Seals added the extra three points to set up an exciting final seven minutes.
Ikeys had their tails up and were awarded a penalty try in the 77th minute after Maties were penalised for collapsing a maul on their try line. Seals added the conversion which levelled matters at 32-32.
Maties had a chance to steal the victory when they were awarded a penalty after the fulltime hooter had sounded, however, Thomson sent his kick flying past the right-hand upright.
FNB Player that Rocks: JP Lewis
For UCT Ikeys:
Tries: Sage, Prior, G Alexander, Penalty Try
Cons: Seals 4
Tries: Lewis 2, van Dyk, Barry
Cons: Stapelberg, Thomson 3
FNB UCT: 15 Khanyo Ngcukana, 14 Dylan Sage, 13 Brendan Rodgers, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Warren Seals, 9 James Alexander, 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Michael Botha (captain), 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Mark Prior, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Joel Carew.
Replacements: 16 Michael Kennedy, 17 Robin Murray, 18 Jade Kriel, 19 Tinotenda Zakeyo, 20 Ryan Dugmore, 21 Nicholas Holton, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Kyle Whyte.
FNB Maties: 15 Mike Muller, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Christoff van Tonder, 12 Koos Loubser, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys (captain), 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Wesley Adonis, 18 Grant Prior, 19 Justin Benn, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Kyle Leibrandt, 23 John Hubert Meyer.
Referees: Francois Pretorius, Rodney Boneparte
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Shaun Veldsman