Round 4 wrap: UJ make a statement; Maties still top

The defending champion FNB Maties scored yet another bonus point victory in the 2010 Varsity Cup, but it was FNB UJ who caused the major shock of the fourth round of action by beating last year’s losing finalists, FNB NMU-Pukke, in Potchefstroom.

Whilst condemning Pukke to fifth place on the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International log, the Men from Johannesburg moved one step closer to a first-ever semifinal with their stunning 23-22 victory.

Up until Monday evening, UJ had never beaten Pukke in the Varsity Cup – including suffering a 14-67 loss in George in 2008 – but revenge was to taste very sweet for Hugo van As’s men who converted a 15-12 half-time lead into their second victory of the season.

As things stand now, UJ are currently in fourth place on the Varsity Cup standings with 12 points, trailing the third-placed FNB Tuks on points’ difference and the second-placed UCT by three log points.

Maties, with four successive bonus point victories, are out in front with 20 points from their four games thus far; the back-to-back champions looking set for a home semifinal for the third year in a row.

Playing in the late game of the round – again – the Maties claimed a very handy 31-15 victory over FNB Shimlas in Stellenbosch, despite finding themselves 14-15 down at half-time.

The defending champions, however, were playing into a heavy wind during the first forty minutes and they kept the Men from Bloemfontein scoreless in the second period, whilst also grabbing that all-important fourth try for themselves.

WP and Stormers representative Conrad Hoffmann was once, again, a leading man for the home side; impressing in general play and grabbing yet another try to go with his four conversions and one penalty on the night.

In other action in the Western Cape this past Monday evening, FNB UCT were made to sweat by their opponents, the FNB TUT Vikings who came to Cape Town with nothing to lose.

The Ikeys – who smashed NMMU 65-9 in Port Elizabeth last Monday – looked set for another big win when centre Tim Whitehead crossed for a first-minute try, after a superb JJ Gagiano break, but that was to be their only try of the game as they also found themselves playing catch-up rugby during the latter stages of the first half when TUT took the lead.

The home side, however, composed themselves and the boot of flyhalf Matt Rosslee eventually saw them to a 25-18 victory – a win, but not an impressive one.

Still, the Ikeys did enough to keep themselves ahead of Tuks, who claimed their second win of the season – a 63-36 demolition of the hapless FNB NMMU Madibas.

The Men from Port Elizabeth conceded more than fifty points for the fourth time in a row and will be eyeing their fixture with TUT – in Round Seven, on March 15 – with some trepidation, as it is bound to decide who will walk away with the dreaded Varsity Cup Wooden Spoon.

Tuks fullback Justin van Staden – who scored more than half of his team’s points against TUT last week – was on the money once again for his side this Monday; collecting 23 points via one try, six conversions and two penalties.

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