Last night, the Ikey Tigers were unable to carry forward the momentum from recent success in the Varsity cup when they lost out 26-16 to defending champions Tuks on a windy Green Mile.
The first half saw the home side claim the majority of the territorial possession. With the wind on their side, Tuks were under significantly more pressure and up until the last few minutes of the half, UCT were undoubtedly dominant.
Within just minutes the Tigers drew first blood with a try by skipper Liam Slatem coming off an attacking line-out. Flyhalf Dean Grant converted and Tuks were immediately forced onto the back foot.
The boys in blue kept the pressure on and remained near to the Tuks tryline searching for a way through. The visitors held on until the first strategy break which saw the scoreline still reading 8-0.
As the home side were playing with the wind, they looked to make use of it before the change around in the next half. However, the Pretoria side were patient and determined and made their way upfileld inch-by-inch taking advantage of UCT handling errors. The boys valiantly held off the onslaught right up until the stroke of half time when a powerful driving maul saw Tuk’s loosehead prop Juan Schoeman charge over, leaving the half time score at 8-8.
With the wind against them in the second half, UCT had a massive challenge ahead of them. It looked encouraged for a while displayed brilliantly when winder Lihleli Xoli made a good break, but UCT lost possession and before long Tuks pushed back and the ball was swung out to fullback Warrick Gelant who dotted it down for a corner try .
Tuks flyhalf Tian Schoeman missed the conversion this time, but the mistake was soon forgiven when just after the second strategy break a Dean Grant pass was intercepted by Tuks prop Neethling Fouche who passed it over to Duncan Matthews for the try. With the scoreline at 18-8 the home side had a lot of ground to cover in order to secure the win.
The Tigers did not relent, and continued to look for a way through the solid defence Tuks were putting out. Opportunity presented itself in the last quarter when Tuks replacement Leneve Damens was send to the win bin for repeated infringements from the side, leaving only 14 men on the field. However, the Tuks defence soon turned into attack and replacement Arno van Wyk made is way over the line to claim to bonus point for the defending champions.
UCT showed strength of character in the final minute of the game when replacement Huw Jones burst through the Tuks defensive line and charged across the white. While it was too little, too late, the final score reading 26-16, there is no doubt that the Tigers will hold their heads high as they fought hard and showed their worth.
After the game, UCT’s Jason Klaasen spoke about what he thought went wrong. ““I think we just gave away too many penalties, and we just couldn’t come back from that. And we couldn’t keep our intensity either. We had the heart, but it wasn’t enough,” he said.
In terms of what they can take from the game, he went on “I guess obviously discipline is a major factor. We’ve got to play the full 80 we can’t just stop, the first 20 were great, but after that our intensity went down.”
Slatem had other ideas about what the team could take from the encounter, “the positives are that we scored a try after 80 minutes, and I think that we stood up to them physically in the first half. In the second half we let ourselves down a bit, but the fact that we stood up to them – they’re big boys, so we can take that as a positive, and make use of it next week.”
Referring to the big presence the wind played in the match he went on, “I think we’re not really adapting to the wind at the moment which is an issue because we used to use it as a strength. But we’ve got new players, and it’s not an easy thing to do, so I think once we get used to the wind we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Next week UCT go on the road again with their fifth round encounter against UJ in Johannesburg.
Tries: Slatem, Jones
Cons: Grant 2
Tries: J Schoeman, Gelant, Matthews, Van Wyk
Cons: T Schoeman 2
Yellow card: Leneve Damens (Repeated infringements, 75 mins)
FNB UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Martin Sauls, 12 Nic Holton, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Jan Uys,3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Robin Murray.
Replacements: 16 Chad Soloman, 17 Michael Kennedy, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Zakeyo Tinetenda, 20 James Alexander, 21 Huw Jones, 22 Suwilanji Chibale, 23 David Maasch.
FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel,12 Ryan Nell, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Reniel Hugo (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 19 Leneve Damens, 20 Emile Temperman, 22 Francois Tredoux, 22 Duncan Matthews, 23 Neethling Fouche.