Last night, the Ikeys Tigers overcame their biggest challenge of the 2014 Varsity Cup so far, beating the NMMU Madibaz 26-13 in Port Elizabeth. The second consecutive away-game win sees them claim back the Monte Taljaard Trophy from the Madibaz.
The Cape Town side started strongly, with flanker Shaun McDonald scoring the opening try of the match, and flyhalf Dean Grant securing the conversion resulting in a 8-0 lead just five minutes into the game. The visitors maintained this lead going into the first strategy break, but soon after the Madibaz had their say with a try by outside centre Michael Bernardt. Flyhalf Gavin Hauptfleisch nailed the conversion, leveling the scores at 8-8.
Right before half time, UCT suffered a blow when try-scorer McDonald was given a yellow card for repeated infringements. However, the Ikeys brushed off the disadvantage as winger Lihleli Xoli dashed over the line for a valuable try just minutes before half-time. Grant was as reliable as ever, landing the conversion and putting the visitors 16-8 ahead at half-time.
After the break, Grant extended this lead even more with a penalty kick in the 50th minute, as NMMU hooker Martin Ferreira was sent to the sin bin. Lack of discipline reigned for UCT, as Robin Murray was handed a yellow card, joining Ferreira for 10 minutes off the field. NMMU were sure to take advantage this time, and scrumhalf Daniel Acker scored their second try of the match. Hauptfleisch missed the crucial conversion, leaving the hosts trailing 13-18 going into the final quarter.
Both teams back at 15 players, and both sides firing all cylinders made for a tense finish to the match. Patience and steadfast defence on the part of the Ikeys during a massive onslaught from NMMU allowed the hosts to hold onto the lead in the closing stages.
An incredible last-minute intercept try by UCT’s Richard Stewart from the hosts’ 22 saw the final scoreboard read 26-13 – a huge win for the boys! The team move into 4th place on the log, just behind the Madibaz according to points’ difference.
UCT flanker Jason Klaasen walked off with the FNB Player that Rocks award as a reward for an impressive game, and the team head home with their heads high and spirits soaring.
FNB NMMU Madibaz:
Tries: Bernardt, Acker
FNB UCT Ikey Tigers:
Tries: McDonald, Xoli, Stewart
Cons: Grant 3