On Monday, the Ikey Tigers claimed ultimate bragging rights when they beat their familiar foes Maties 33-16 in the second round of the Varsity Cup. The team overcame their first-game defeat to overpower the Stellenbosch side on their own turf, in their first away game of the season. This is the first time UCT have beaten the Maties in the Varsity Cup since 2008. The last time UCT made the journey to play in Stellenbosch in 2012 they lost 45-5, so the win is undoubtedly significant.
“The boys were ecstatic, they really played their hearts out so they were emotional after the match,” said coach Kevin Musikanth after the game.
The power of UCT’s scrum was noticeable within the first couple of minutes, as they out-played Stellenbosch in this area of the game from the get-go. However, the Maties were on the counter-attack, drew first blood, and converted: 8-0.
After the first strategy break, the Stellenbosch side were dealt a hard blow when Beyers de Villiers was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle, leaving the team with only 14 players on the field. UCT were quick to take advantage of this and Jason Klaasen crashed over the line from an impressive line-out drive. Fly half Dean Grant began his impressive game by converting the try, leaving the score board at 8-8.
Soon after, UCT followed it up with a quick corner try by winger Lihleli Xoli, making it 13-8, when Grant surprisingly missed the conversion. However, the fly half redeemed himself with a late penalty kick, leaving 15-8 at half time.
Speaking about the atmosphere in the change rooms at half time, Musikanth said: “The team had a calm about them even though it was war on the field. The boys knew that they would win so it was an easy thing for us to manage, way different than the ‘deer in the headlights’ from the week before.”
Soon after the restart the refs made use of the TMO to confirm Klaasen’s second try which he scored after Maties fullback Craig Barry ripped the ball out of Xoli’s hands right on the try line. Grant converted and another penalty kick at the hands of the fly half right before the second strategy break comfortably put UCT over two converted tries ahead: 25-8.
In a desperate attempt to claw back, Maties fly half Robert du Preez found his way through a gap and over the white. He converted his own try to bring the score up to 25-16, but it wasn’t enough as UCT had the last say with captain Liam Slatem flying over the line after a brilliant break from centre Huw Jones. Thus, come full time the 33-16 score reflected how hard the boys played, and how badly they wanted it.
After the game, Lihleli Xoli expresses just exactly how excited the team were with their win: “the boys felt ecstatic, lots of emotions after the historic win. And a major feeling of relief as our hard work was finally rewarded.”
Both the spirit and intensity of the side was noticeably different this week, in comparison to their first game where they had a good first 30 minutes, and then a disappointing finish. To this Musikanth said this time round, “I think our intensity was vastly different and the meaning with which the guys played. They played with fire and enthusiasm and also played for a full 80 minutes.”
To this, Xoli added that their discipline improved significantly, their penalty count going from 20 to eight. This meant they had the ball a lot more, and their defence was rock solid. “The general hunger and willingness to take responsibility was a dramatic turnaround,” he said.
In terms of the areas of both strength and weakness, Musikanth explained: “leadership was good on the park, the weaknesses are we are still not the complete package, but at the same time we are a new team and need to continue progressing, developing and feeling inspired about the campaign.
“We still haven’t seen the best of our team and we have lots of work to do and permutations to make sure work for the rest of the campaign.”
Next week, the side will look to generate even more momentum when they take on NMMU in PE on Monday at 19:00.
For FNB UCT:
Tries: Klaasen 2, Xoli, Slatem
Cons: Grant 3
Pens: Grant 2
For FNB Maties:
Try: Kôtze, Du Preez
Cons: Du Preez 2
FNB UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Vince Jobo, 7 Shaun McDonald, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Joel Carew.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 David Maasch, 18 Guy Alexander, 19 Zakeyo Tinetenda, 20 James Alexander, 21 Martin Sauls, 22 David Strachan, 23 Robin Murray.
FNB Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgskiss, 12 Johnny Kôtze, 11 Caleb Smith, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Nel, 8 Tertius Daniller (captain), 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Brendon Pitzer, 2 Freddie Kirsten, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Charl de Villiers, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Ian Groenewald, 19 Justin Benn, 20 Jean Nel, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Louis Jordaan, 23 Liam Hendricks.