End of the road for JJ Gagiano and his men – Ikeys lost 17:19
UCT Ikey Tigers narrowly lost their home semi final to Pukke (University of the North West) on the very windy Green Mile tonight. UCT played with the wind in the first half, but only clocked up a 12:0 half time lead, which was melting steadily as soon as the teams changes sides until eventually Pukke claimed the lead and the game to make it 17:19.
UCT did score outscore the visitors by three tries to one, but fell victim to a tactically well played second half of the visitors and the accurate boot of the PUK number 10 Cecil Dumond. The Ikeys will rue their missed chances for more points with the wind in their backs and will take little consolation from the fact that they did lead the tight game until the final 5 minutes.
Pukke got the deciding penalty with only four minutes to go – they would probably argue it was justice, after UCT had sneaked last years semi final with a penalty in injury time.
UCT started nervous, with a couple of fumbled balls, but playing with the strong wind they were soon camped in the PUKKE half. Rosslee had a shot at a goal but missed, shortly after UCT’s pressure showed again and the visitors got penalised, but Rosslee again missed narrowly. Not easy kicks, but still potential points. UCT were in the game now, looking more dangerous after the initial 20 minutes of finding their feet, or hands as it were.
Therlow Pietersen and Peter Engelbrecht ran hard and made good yards. Nick Fenton Wells came close down the left shortly after, it was flying Dane Johnson who was tackled just short on the far right. Eventually Marcello Sampson went over in the corner after a great pressure phase and attack that went the whole width of the field. Rosslee added the difiicult extras from the touchline to make it 7:0 after 30 minutes.
The wind helped UCT keep on the pressure and it was big Mike Passaportis who scored after some great work by Stu Commins. The conversion went wide and it was 12.0 after 34 minutes. Which was also the halftime score and the Ikeys knew 12 points would be a small lead to defend come the second half.
The half time entertainment was provided by the UCT Dummies, a crew of guys in Blue body paint and nappies, supported by a bunch of mostly blonde nurses. It was as hilarious as it was bizarre to see the 20 odd dummies keep a straight face doing their dance routine! Brilliant effort. But there was plenty more rugby to be played.
Pukke started the half well, running hard and soon got a penalty to make it 12:3 after 45 min. UCT against the wind got no relief as Pukke camped in the UCT 22, but the defense held, with UCT winning crucial turn overs. Pukke did however kick another penalty to make it 12:6 after 53 min - the lead was melting fast.
UCT attacked better against the wind, working the blind side. Sean van Tonder came on and make an immediate impact and plenty of yards. Rosslee went off and Tiger Bax was at flyhalf now. Bax was the one who turned a sloppy lineout ball into an opportunity down the blind side, where Dylan Rogers stormed ahead and got the ball away to Sampson how popped to Dayne Jans who had just came on. The powerhouse hooker crashed over in the corner for a vital score against the wind, the conversion just blown short. 17:6 after 60 min.
Pukke struck back with a penalty immediately after the re-start, UCT too talkative were moved back an extra 10 meters and Pukke made it 17:9 after 62 minutes. Minutes later they got a break in midfield, after UCT lost a ball attacking and Pukke countered through center Wenstley Scott who raced down field and drew Therlow Pietersen to set up a well played try by winger Lolo Waka. Now the score was 17:16 with about 10 minutes to go. The game would go to the wire again – like last years semi final, just this time roles were reversed.
UCT played smarter now and kept possession well, working up the field keeping the ball tight. But any mistake got punished with long kicks down the field by the visitors. Pukke were awarded a scrum in the UCT danger zone, this was the make or break phase of the game. UCT managed a turn the ball over and kicked to touch. Pukke secured the lineout about thirty meters out and attacked again until they were awarded a penalty at a ruck with 5 minutes on the clock! The kick was easy enough and the visitors cliched the lead – 17:19.
UCT, backed by their vocal supporters fought their way back into the Pukke half, giving everything. They were awarded a penalty and kicked to touch, with the wind making a kick to posts impossible. They lost the crucial throw-in. Still the Tigers managed to win the ball back and attacked again until they got another penality. This lineout was won, but soon after UCT fumbled. Pukke got a scrum and all they had to do was kick to touch and the game was over.
Heartbreaking for the brave Ikeys, but in the end Pukke were the ones who played just a little bit smarter with the wind and converted all their chances for points.
Tight games are decided in instances – last year UCT triumphed in the semifinal after a brilliant come back and taking all their chances, including a tricky penalty in injury time. It was an instance of a different kind that had cost them the final.
“There’s always next year” was the title of the article by Craig Kleu that was published last week – disappointing indeed, but the Ikeys can keep their heads high after another very good Varsity Cup campaign.
In the other semi final, played at Coetzenberg, defending champions Maties beat Tukkies 38:14 and will face Pukke at the same venue next week.
Tries: Sampson, Passaportis, Jans
Pens: Dumond 4
UCT Ikey Tigers: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Dane Johnson, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Pieter Engelbrecht, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Matt Rosslee, 9 Stuart Commins (vice-captain), 8 JJ Gagiano (captain), 7 Enoch Panya, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Donovan Armand, 4 Michael Passaportis, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Mark Goosen, 1 Dylan Rogers.
Replacements: 16 Dayne Jans, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 Dane Galley, 19 Mzoi Simani, 20 JP Robert, 21 Sean van Tonder, 22 Marvin Christians.
FNB Pukke: 15 Willem Barnard, 14 Andrew Van Wyk, 13 Wenstley Scott, 12 Wouter Watermeyer, 11 Lolo Waka, 10 Cecil Dumond, 9 Andries Mahoney, 8 Willem van der Wal (captain), 7 Savvas Nel, 6 Jaco Lötter, 5 Markus Fourie, 4 Grant le Roux, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Stoffel Duvenage, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Dewald Coetzee, 17 Lourens Botes, 18 Victor Kruger, 19 Thabo Molete, 20 Theuns Kotzé, 21 Marcel du Toit, 22 Randall April.