Oh so close for Ikeys
It was a case of “Oh so close” for the 2023 Ikey Tigers as the NWU Eagles claimed their second FNB Varsity Cup title via a hard-fought 27-25 victory at the Fanie du Toit Sports Ground in Potchefstroom.
In a final that saw the home side make more than double the number of tackles, it really was a case of brute force trauma vs Ikey flair, with the former coming out on top – JUST!
First-half tries from Vernon Paulo (2) and Tino Swanepoel, converted by Zinedine Robinson – who also slotted a penalty – gave the Eagles the edge heading into halftime. Ikeys wing, and the tournament’s top scorer, Ntokozo Makhaza, was successful with three penalties but it wasn’t enough as the home team went to the break with a 20-9 lead.
Ikeys made their intent clear at the start of the second half, scoring a quick point-of-origin try through man of the match, Reynhardt Crous, to make it 20-18. The Eagles remained under pressure for much of the half with the visitors relentless on attack.
Tino Swanepoel chased an excellent kick into space, scoring what turned out to be a match-defining try to get the Eagles out of a difficult position, taking the score to 27-18.
Ikeys, however, continued with the pressure and a late try by Jac van der Walt made it a two-point game with ten minutes on the clock. Had a few balls gone to hand, and the ball bounced their way, it may have been a different outcome.
In the end, though, the Eagles held their nerve to lift the coveted Varsity Cup trophy for the second time.
NWU 27 (20) – Tries: Vernon Paulo (2), Tino Swanepoel (2). Conversions: Zinedine Robinson (2). Penalty: Robinson.
Ikeys 25 (9) – Tries: Reynhardt Crous, Jac van der Walt. Conversions: Ntokozo Makhaza (2). Penalties: Makhaza (3).
FNB Player That Rocks: Reynhardt Crous (Ikeys)
Ikeys: 15 Duran Koevort, 14 Rethabile Louw, 13 Josh Boulle, 12 Kyle Lamb, 10 David Hayes, 9 Asad Moos, 11 Ntokozo Makhaza, 8 Laro Delport, 7 Enos Ndiao, 6 Sipho Dyonase, 5 George van der Westhuizen, 4 Reynhardt Crous, 3 Bryan le Roux, 2 Keagan Blanckenberg, 1 Luthando Woji.
Bench: Alex Castle, Seth Christian, Jovan Bekker, Jac van der Walt, Johan van Rhyn, Hlumelo Ndudula, Lezane Davis, Rihaz Fredericks
Eagles: 15 Swanepoel Tino Santino, 14 Windvogel Keano Ricardo, 13 Pretorius Theunis Gerhardus, 12 Phatudi I. S. Vincent Phatudi, 11 Jaarts Naiden, 10 Robinson Zinedine, 9 Hassien Sylvester, 8 Erlank Gustav Zacharias, 7 Bertram Karl-Heinz Henlein, 6 Vermaak Chris, 5 Nel Wihan, 4 Krugel Stephan, 3 Swiegers Ruan (Sampie), 2 Paulo Vernon, 1 du Plessis Ruben.