With the return of the full multi sports Intervarsity FNB UCT rugby was on song to impress with a hard fought 21:13 win against rivals FNB Maties by the Ikey Tigers. To top of a great event, the 2nd team and 3rd team also beat their counterparts in maroon for a rare 3:0 in senior rugby.
It was an afternoon of classic Green Mile mile conditions with the wind coming in from the Wynberg end, challenging the supporters who came despite test week at varsity and a winter chill in the air.
It was also a classic clash between two student amateur sides and a game played in a spirit fitting to the great occasion – one of the oldest derby games in world rugby, first played in 1911.
UCT played against the wind in the first half and immediately showed intent by rumbling the ball up the field following a deep kick off by Maties. A break down the right hand touch line brought the Tigers within striking distance and it was on form center Andrew Norton who managed to score an unlikely opening try against the wind after only six minutes – 5:0.
The Ikeys secured the kick off again and patiently built their game, holding off Maties challenges and played a 20m rolling maul down the center of the field, until it was Ross Jones Davies who slotted a penalty for an 8:0 lead in the sixteenth minute. Every Green Mile connoisseur knows to appreciate those hard fought points against the wind and the noisy UCT crowd knew they were in for a treat of a game.
The Stellenbosch side started to make better use of the wind and pushed UCT back into their half, but the Ikeys held them off until the 29th minute, when the maroon forwards got over the whitewash from close quarters. The conversion was good and the score was now 8:7.
Maties then got awarded a penalty on the half way mark, which their flyhalf and the wind pushed over the crossbar to take the lead for the first time 8:10 after 33 minutes. But UCT got to have the last say pushing back into Maties territory where they were awarded a penalty to claim back a narrow lead 11:10, which they took into the half.
Half time saw the Ikeys Cheerleaders busting their moves – followed by an unusual sight on the rugby green, when UCT Athletics took on Maties Athletics for an 8x100m mixed sprint relay. This was loudly supported by the home crowd, but Maties edged the Ikeys with a few of the maroon sprinters in form after recently excelling at the new Varsity Athletics challenge.
The second half of course UCT played with the wind in their backs, but Maties came our firing and managed to pin the Ikeys into their 22m. UCT's defense reminded of the 2011 Varsity Cup final and all the Stellenbosch team was able to book from an extended pressure period was a penalty for an 11:13 lead, which Ross Jones Davies countered moments later to make it 14:13.
The game changing moment came after UCT used the wind to play for territory and flyhalf Dillyn Leyds had enough pace to outstrip the Maties defense with a 30m diagonal surge towards the corner flag, where he dotted down for a brilliant individual try. Jones Davies converted a tough attempt from close to the touch line and made it 21:13 with 18 minutes to go.
The momentum was now firmly with the Blue and White home side, but it was an intervarsity and Maties were not done yet trying to build their game again and again to work their way up the field. But UCT's cover defense was solid and the home side kept forcing turn overs and mistakes which they punished with long kicks down field to push the Maties back.
Jones Davies had a go at another penalty which would have allowed some breathing space but went slightly wide. The final movement of the game followed a lineout on the Maties 22m – then the ref blew the whistle and Ikeys had scored a famous victory, to the delight of the many old boys and supporters who had followed the nail biting clash.
Veteran prop Wes Chetty (26) – the only senior player in the team on the day to have joined the squad post VC, was asked what the difference was between this side and the team that had such disappointing results during the Varsity Cup a few weeks ago. Chetty said, "Well, we made a collective decision that it was time for us to start winning games as we have too much talent and passion in the squad to keep disappointing ourselves and our coaches." A shift that has been paying dividents with a strong start to the league season and this excellent result.
It was a rare senior team clean sweep with the UCT 3rd team claiming a tight clash on Friday night with a 10:8 win over Junior Cravens and the UCT 2nd, the Eagles beating the Cravens for a famous 15:14 and staying unbeaten in the process.
To top things off, all three Ikeys senior teams and the U20 A1 teams are currently topping the log in the WP super leage – other teams may have a game in hand, but this is a very positive trend none the less.
The U20 Trojans lost a tighty contensted affair and went down 22:25 in theiy Hedley Atkins trophy clash.
A fantastic weekend for UCT rugby and UCT sports – congratulations to all involved for resurrecting the great tradition of the multi sports Intervarsity.
Thanks also to our friends from Stellenbosch for being such graceous guests, we look forward to your teams' challenges on the field in the return fixture.
Tries: Andrew Norton, Dillyn Leyds
Kicks: Jones Davies 1 con, 3 pens
Ikey Tigers team vs Maties
1.Wes Chetty 2. Derek Asbun, 3. Digby Webb, 4. James Kilroe, 5. Shaun Macdonald, 6. Jason Klaasen 7. Kyle Kriel 8. Michael Botha 9. Dylan Frylink 10. Dylin Leyds 11. Lihleli Xoli 12. Andrew Norton 13. Tiger Bax, 14.Richard Steward 15. Ross Jones Davies
Reserves: 16. Michael Kennedy 17. Deacon Chowles 18. Jade Kriel, 19. Matthew Faught 20 Christopher Cook 21. David Abunya 22. Dylan Sage