Maties put together a polished all-round performance in front of their home crowd in Stellenbosch to down rivals and defending Varsity Cup championsUCT 45-5, which also erased the last glimmer of hope of the Ikeys sneaking into the semi finals.
The Maties made better use of their opportunities thanks to some intimidating physicality and a good team effort, whilst UCT were let down by their high error-rate which combined with a determined defensive effort from their ruthless hosts ensured that they never really threatened.
The defending champions made a nightmare start to the game when a sloppy pass in the backline put the home side on the front foot straight away and their forwards got stuck in, driving towards the tryline until No.8 Grant Hattingh was able to crash over for the try which served as a resounding opening statement.
Ikeys responded by thundering into Maties territory but the well-organised defence was up to the task and they managed to soak up the pressure before forcing the visitors back into their own territory once more thanks to some shrewd tactical kicking.
The home side were winning quick ball thanks to their well-drilled pack of forwards and their backline soon made it count when they sent it down the hands for fullback André Smith to get over in the right corner for the second try which made it 13-0 to the hosts.
UCT pushed hard after the first strategy break and managed to work themselves into a good scoring position, but Maties were able to hold them off and provided another counter-punch when their pack put in a massive shove at a scrum in midfield.
Nippy scrumhalf Boela Abrahams used that platform to break from the base and turned on the pace to round the cover defence before releasing Smith on his outside. The speedy fullback was able to cruise over for the third try which was converted by flyhalf André Kemp to give the home team a commanding 21-0 lead.
The Stellenbosch side were getting over the gain line with ease and their physical dominance was further underlined at scrum-time with the Ikeys pack forced onto the back foot regularly.
That dominance was rewarded further when they wrapped up the four-try bonus point five minutes before half-time with skipper Helmut Lehmann finishing off some devastating forward play by forcing his way over the line from close range.
UCT were not going to take that treatment lying down and they looked to play to their strengths as they tried to exploit the space available out wide. No.8 Rayn Smid hit the ball at pace on the 22 and managed to brush off the tackle of the diminutive Abrahams to go over for an impressive try which would have given Kevin Foote’s men at least some encouragement heading into the break 29-5 down.
After the sheer intensity of the first half both sides started making more errors in the second forty minutes, but Maties still managed to extend their lead further when the powerful Hattingh barged his way over for a try that was confirmed by the TMO and converted from the touchline by Smith which made it 37-5 to the home team.
To their credit the Ikeys never gave up and spent enough time in the attacking third of the field but the watertight Maties defence stood firm and they used their impressive scrum as a weapon to repel the efforts of the defending champions.
Maties outside centre Wessel Coetzee put the seal on an emphatic performance when he was put into gap in the UCT 22 by a great pass from Donald Stevens, and although the visitors pushed for a late consolation try the fierce defence of the home side stood firm to secure the comprehensive 45-5 victory.
For the FNB Maties:
Tries: Hattingh 2, Smith 2, Lehmann, Coetzee
Cons: Kemp 3, Smith 2
For FNB UCT:
Maties: 15 André Smith, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Wessel Coetzee, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Dean Hammand, 10 André Kemp, 9 Boela Abrahams, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 6 Sam Mabombo, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Reniel Hugo, 3 Hein van der Merwe, 2 Gareth Light, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 JP Swanepoel, 19 Nicholas de Jager, 20 Donald Stevens, 21 Jarryd Buys, 22 Clearance Khumalo, 23 Os Hamman.
UCT: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Adrian Kritzinger, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Nick Holton, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Brad Bosman, 6 Ntsolo Setlaba (captain), 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 Graham Knoop, 3 Francois van Wyk, 2 Dayne Jans, 1 Wes Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Matt Page, 17 Digby Webb, 18 James Kilroe, 19 Greg Mallett, 20 Nick Farrar, 21 Paul Cohen, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Mini Bhengu.
Referee: Ben Crouse