The FNB Ikey Tigers signed off on a disappointing 2013 Varsity Cup campaign with a 50-40 win over tournament debutants, FNB Wits, at the Green Mile on Monday evening.
Experienced backs Tiger Bax and Liam Slatem scored twice for UCT, with Witsies' scores being shared by five players in an ill-tempered encounter which saw forwards Brad Bosman (Ikeys) and Rinus Bothma (Wits) sent off, with visiting flanker Carel Greef spending ten minutes in the sin bin.The Ikeys lost some close ones this season, also drawing their opening bout at home to Madibaz, and they left it quite late in their 2013 campaign for a first victory; winning a 12-try match which also produced two red cards and one yellow card.
A brilliant display of running rugby by the Ikeys in the first half of the game led to six well-rounded tries, two of those scored by captain Slatem. Fullback Ross Jones-Davies converted four of UCT's first-half tries, bringing the score to 42-0 in favour of the Ikeys at half-time.
After the opening forty minutes it seemed as if the wide-ranging hosts would run away with things, but the notorious Green Mile wind – coupled with a determined fightback from Wits – saw the game take on a whole different complexion in the second half.
Wits came out firing in the second forty minutes – scoring three unanswered converted tries within the first 20 minutes of the second half, going into the second strategic break at 24-42 down.
The visitors, perhaps sensing a first-ever Varsity Cup win, scored another two tries in the last 20 minutes of the game, but the Ikeys – through a final Tiger Bax try – managed to hold out and pick up a first, and deserved, win of the season.
A relieved, but tired (and no doubt happy!) Slatem said afterwards: "We will take the win and go into the league with this (winning) momentum."
The result secured a second successive second-last finish for UCT in the Varsity Cup – having also occupied this position last year – whilst Wits came away with the Wooden Spoon in their first season of Varsity Cup rugby.
There will, however, be no promotion/relegation ahead of the 2014 season, meaning Wits, the 2012 Varsity Shield champions, will get another crack next year – despite conceding 369 points and scoring just 133 points on debut in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Winger Richard Steward finished off his tournament with a strong showing and was voted the Player that Rocks – with former Ikeys player and Springbok 7s Captain Kyle Brown handing him a stash of prizes.
Meanwhile the UCT U20A Trojans have qualified for a semi final in the Varsity Young Guns competition and will travel to UP Tuks on Monday the 25th.
For FNB UCT:
Tries: Bosman, Bax 2, Stewart, Willemse, Slatem 2
Cons: Jones-Davies 5
For FNB Wits:
Tries: Baggott, Fraser, Ludick, Arends, Blom
Cons: Peyper 5
UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 David Ambunya, 12 Liam Bax, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Bradley Bosman, 7 Joshua Katzen, 6 Derek Asbun, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Kyle Kriel, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Jason Klaasen, 19 Ntsolo Setlaba, 20 Rick Schroeder, 21 Nathan Nel, 22 Paul Cohen, 23 Joel Carew.
Wits: 15 Joshua Durbach, 14 Jacques Erasmus, 13 Kayde Fisher, 12 Mandla Dube, 11 Riaan Arends, 10 Kyle Peyper, 9 Mathew Torrance, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Rinus Bothma, 6 Carel Greef, 5 Charles Baggot, 4 Devin Montgomery (captain), 3 Phakamilu Zuma, 2 Katlego Kgame, 1 Hannes Ludik.
Replacements: 16 Rory Anderson, 17 Thato Mavundla, 18 Cameron Shafto, 19 Shai Korb, 20 Michael Sephton-Poultney, 21 Greg Blom, 22 Ish Nkolo, 23 Ferdinand Kelly.
Referee: Quinton Immelman