FNB UCT-Ikey Tigers will have it all to do in the final round of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International following their defeat in Bloemfontein at the hands of the unbeaten FNB UFS-Shimlas.
In the round 6 clash against FNB Shimlas in Bloem, it was a handful of first half tries that had handed the home side a comfortable 34-8 lead at the break, and despite a mini-comeback by the Ikeys, the Freestate University team held on to guarantee themselves their first ever home semifinal and when they came away 44:24 winners.
UCT coach Kevin Musikanth explains that their problems started early on, as Shimlas’ Gerhard Olivier cantered his way over the line in the second minute of the match.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to respond to a little bit of bad luck in the beginning. Essentially, even though their first try was exceptional, it was an offside which was missed,” Musikanth said.
In another unfortunate incident, UCT’s first attacking play of the match saw Lihleli Xoli making his way across the try line, only to have it ruled out by the TMO as he had played the ball on the ground in the build-up.
“In order to be a championship side we need to be able to cope with the bounce of the ball, and for us, we didn’t.
“We struggled to get momentum and respond to the intelligent tactics that Shimlas brought to the game, and we battled to hold onto the ball for the limited times that we had it and shift the momentum,” he added.
A powerful first half performance by the Bloemfontein side handed them a comfortable 34-8 lead by half time, a devastating ratio for the men from the Cape.
“We stimulated the pride part of what it means to be an Ikey Tiger and how we had let ourselves down. We allowed Shimlas to get significant momentum and we needed to respond, despite being littered with niggles and important players having to go off the field,” he stated.
And the team responded brilliantly to the talk, scoring two tries after the break.
“We brought some heat to the game and in actual fact won the second half, which we can take as a positive, although it’s not good enough at all,” he said.
Despite the resurgence by the visitors, and the appearance of their never-say-die attitude, the game was all wrapped up at 44-24.
“Shimlas were the better side on the day, and although we would like to meet them again in the playoffs, they were full value for their win and deserve credit,” he stated.
Ikeys will tackle FNB UJ in Round Seven in a do-or-die match on the Green Mile.
By Megan Kinnaird