Defending champions FNB UCT, who suffered a 15-29 away defeat to FNB UJ, were unable to register their first log points of the season – going down by four tries to two at the University of Johannesburg’s home ground.
UJ led 29-2 at half-time, so UCT did win the second half by 13-0, but it will be scant consolation to Kevin Foote and his coaching team who will return to Cape Town knowing they have a mountain to climb in their remaining five league fixtures.
FNB UJ – especially in the first half – looked like a side that with few tweaks could again finish at the top of the log after the league phases, that after they went down 8-23 to FNB Tuks in Pretoria just seven days ago.
With their impressive pack rampant before the break, and the backline slick and quick, the Ikeys seemed to have no answer. They had little possession and were scrummed, rucked and mauled off the ball too often to have any say in this period when their backs saw very little of the ball.
Except for a few Ikeys flashes in the last ten minute before the break, the first half belonged to UJ – and especially their forwards and halfbacks, Rudy Paige and flyhalf Guy Cronjé.
In fact, with Namibian World Cup flyhalf Worsie Kotze at fullback, the three switched continually behind the dominant pack to the great frustration of UCT, with former Shark Cronjé often taking over the scrumhalf duties at the breakdown.
UJ’s four-try bonus-point came three minutes before the break when Jaco Kriel went over from a ruck following a line-out drive that broke up.
Earlier, UJ had put the first score of the evening on the board within a minute of the start with a try by Chrysander Botha – who also represented Namibia at the 2011 RWC. It came from a slick backline move following a ruck from the kick-off. With Cronjé converting, UJ were 8-0 up before UCT flyhalf Nicholas Holton made it 8-2 via a penalty two minutes later.
UJ’s next three tries before the break, when they led 29-2, came through Paige following a succession of mauls after a line-out drive; livewire hooker Shaun Malton who was a late inclusion after UJ’s hooker Francois du Toit was included in the Lions squad for Tuesday’s compulsory friendly against the Southern Kings in George; and Kriel.
The Ikeys resurgence just before the break continued after the restart and replacement scrumhalf Nichols Farrar went over in the corner after a solid Ikeys period in UJ territory (29-7).
And then, in the last quarter when it seemed unlikely that Ikeys could salvage the match, they showed their mettle with a long kick, well-followed up by big winger Damian de Allende who got the bounce and scored under the posts for the final score of the match.
It was, however, a case of too little too late for the defending champions – who, along with the FNB TUT Vikings, are the only winless team in the 2012 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
The first round of 2012 Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships action also took place on Monday, with a 26-24 victory for Steinhoff Bastion (UJ) over the Steinhoff Cobras (UCT).
Nick Farrer, Damian de Allende
Kicks: Nick Holton 1 Pen, 1 Con
The FNB UCT team: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Adrian Kritzinger (vice-captain), 11 Mark Winter, 10 Nick Holton, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Greg Mallett, 7 Don Armand, 6 Ntsolo Setlaba (captain), 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 James Kilroe, 3 Adriaan Botha, 2 Matt Page, 1 Wes Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Dayne Jans, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Rayn Smid, 19 Zandy Macdonald, 20 Nick Farrar, 21 Michael Morris, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Bonga ‘Mini’ Bhengu.