The FNB Ikey Tigers started their USSA Rugby campaign with a loss to rivals FNB Maties, going down 31:32 in a dramatic game.
It was one of many big clashes in Grahamstown when Cape rivals UCT and Maties locked horns, and it was the Stellenbosch outfit that managed to clinch a tight 33-32 victory over the reaigning Varsity Cup champions to get their campaign off to a positive start.
Maties started well and took an early lead with a try by flyhalf Chris Smith, then both forward packs worked overa push over try.
Ikeys fullback Lihleli Xoli scored a great try and turned the momentum for the UCT students with outside center Brendan Rogers crossing the whitewash next to make the score 19:19 and set up an intense second half.
Again there was not much between the two sides in the second half, but it was the team in maroon that scored twice to UCT's one try and looked to have clinched the game.
But in classic style the Ikeys truck in the last minute to make it 31:32 with a conversion from the touchline just wide, denying a late winner.
The score and in fact the game reminds of the Intervarsity a few weeks back – there really is not much between the two sides at the moment.
USSA is used by the Varsity Cup outfits to blood new players and test the depth of the squads. UCT are looking strong, by all accounts – despite the unfortunatle opening loss.
USSA Day One results:
NWU Vaal 114-0 Limpopo
NWU-Pukke 23-17 UFS-Shimlas
Varsity College 28-22 UKZN
WSU Mthatha 37-13 NWU Mafikeng
CPUT 84-0 Zululand
UP-Tuks 65-0 NMMU
WSU B 43-19 MUT
VUT 17-10 Invitational XV
CUT 62-19 Namibia
UJ 52-15 Wits
NMMU G 71-15 WSU
Maties 33-32 UCT
TUT 64-0 UFH
TUT Shos 12-33 Venda
UWC 20-13 Rhodes
USSA Day Two fixtures:
Varsity College v CUT – Kings Field (09.00)
CPUT v NMMU G – St Andrews (09.00)
Limpopo v MUT – Prospect 1 (09.00)
NMMU v UCT – Prospect 2 (09.00)
NWU Vaal v WSU BBC – Kings Field (10.40)
VUT v Venda – St Andrews (10.40)
UFS-Shimlas v Wits – Prospect 1 (10.40)
UFH v Rhodes – Prospect 2 (10.40)
WSU Mthatha v TUT B – Kings Field (12.20)
NWU-Pukke v UJ – St Andrews (12.20)
Zululand v WSU Ibika – Prospect 1 (12.20)
UKZN v Namibia – Prospect 2 (12.20)
UP-Tuks v Maties – Kings Field (14.00)
TUT v UWC – St Andrews (14.00)
NWU Mafikeng v Invitational XV (14.00)