UCT kicked off their league campaign with a shaky first half out in Helderberg, leaking three tries in 25 minutes, but came back to almost level the scores at the break. The Tigers then played a better second half where they dominated territory – however Helderberg scored two long range tries to lead 40:33 with minutes to go. It came down to a last minute UCT try and conversion from the touch-line to claim a 40:40 draw.
Helderberg, having revamped their style of play to a wide running game caught UCT off guard in the opening minutes and were up 7:0 very quickly. UCT put some phases together and got on the scoreboard with a Doug Mallet penalty, but Helderberg struck back again with a second try and were up 12:3 not even ten minutes in.
The Ikeys were lacking the structure that made them such a force in the Varsity Cup, which played into the home team’s hands, but managed a try after a great individual effort by the lethal Therlow Pietersen to catch up on the scoreboard.
While the UCT forwards put a lot of pressure on Helderberg’s line-outs forcing a number of errors as well as winning two strong tight-heads in the scrums, they were a bit off their best in open play and not disciplined enough in enforcing the gameplan.
Helderberg kept finding gaps in a uncharacteristically shakey UCT defense and took the score into the 30s at the break. Paul Cohen finshed off an overlap after a well executed move and UCT scored another try by Therlow Pietersen. It was the skillful fullback as well who set-up Sam Peter for a five pointer before the half.
The half-time score was 32:23 and the Ikeys were looking to get over their frustrating start, cut out their mistakes and pluck the holes in defense.
The second half was more dominant with the home team tiring and UCT playing smarter rugby moving the ball into opposition territory.
But Helderberg struck again with a try following great interplay by their backs out of their own 22. UCT worked their way back into the home side’s danger zone but made far too many unforced errors which took a lot of pressure off the defense. Again Helderberg managed to score out of their own 22m line following a turn-over and made the score 40:28.
Eventually it was Don Armand – who had an outstanding game – who finished off a move after a classy offload by Marcel Brache to bring UCT back within reach at 40:33, but the conversion was wide – like most others on the day.
The final minutes was one way traffic, but UCT could not get past the determined defense who kept looking dangerous following mistakes by the guests. With time almost up Paul Cohen rounded a tight forward out wide to score on the touchline and it came down to the Marcel Brache conversion to clinch the draw and 3 points.
Not the ideal start against a Helderberg side that seemed to have completely reinvented their style of play, but a gutsy fightback to claim points in this tricky away fixture.
Ikey Tigers scorers:
Therlow Pietersen 2, Sam Peter, Don Armand, Paul Cohen 2.
Mallet 2 pen / 1 con, Brache 1 con
Ikey Tigers team vs Helderberg
15. Therlow Pietersen, 14. Pete Haw, 13. Mark Esterhuisen, 12. Marcel Brache, 11. Paul Cohen, 10 Douglas Mallet, 9. Stu Commins (vc), 8. Sam Peter, 7. Luzuko Panya, 6. Zandy MacDonald, 5. Bodo Sieber (c), 4. Don Armand, 3. Grant Kemp, 2. Matt Paige, 1. Ash Wells
16. Mark Goosen, 17. Wes Chetty, 18. Levi Odendaal, 19. Andre Goosen, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Matt Rosslee, 22. Andre Coetzer
Vics 26 – 38 Maties 9 (played Wednesday)
Durbell 45 – 13 NNK
Maties 31 – 8 Villagers
SK-Walmers 44 – 15 Vics