NNK 16 : 38 UCT
In yet another late night fixture UCT took on NNK in Parow – usually a well contested high-scoring affair – as the 36:35 score, first half of the season suggests. It was also the last 2007 match for NNK who were looking to end on a high, after a fairly dissappointing season with plenty of close scores and not quite enough wins.
It looked like it would be a long night indeed for the students and a bright one for NNK as in the first 20 minutes UCT still hadn’t quite arrived yet with the hosts playing all the rugby, camping in the Ikey’s half. They failed to score a try, but did convert their pressure into points from two penalties – 6:0. UCT Fullback James Richards taking a great high ball under immense pressure and initiating a good break had the students waking up and joining the party – Flank Jody Burch as always running hard with prop Ian Matthew making good meters running great support lines. After a Matt Rosslee penalty had made it 6:3, a scrum on the right just into NNK territory, had scrumhalf Sean Steward find a gap and pass back inside to the backrow who made good ground and produced quick ruckball which had the NNK defense in disarray. Captain Kevin Foote ran a great angle, cutting though the line and beating two defenders to score next to the uprights just before halftime – Rosslee converted, .
Half time started in the NNK half with UCT immediately dangerous, the students put on the pressure and Matt Rosslee scored five minutes in, to extend the lead . At the same time in Stade de France at the opening world cup match, France were going into the break with a very similar score, down 9:17 to Los Pumas, but we all know what happened there.
UCT continued with determined defence and high intensity, back-rowers JJ Gagiano and Crusty Kleu on as temporary sub for Monty Taljaard impressed with some big hits. NNK came close to the line, mauling in true Blue Bulls style, but varsity stole the ball and initiated a great counter from their tryline. Offside in a ruck on the 22 had NNK penalised, and a quick tap taken by JJ Gagiano saw the Ikeys swinging the ball wide, sending young speedster Pete Haw on a long run down field. He was caught 10 meters out but as always, the hard working UCT back-row was there in support, and big Jody Burch jogged in under the posts.
The Ikeys were starting to enjoy their night and continued to pin NNK in their half, producing good line-outs and some great phases of play. A break down the left wing, initiated by James Richards, freed Marcelo Sampson who rounded a defender and handed off another but got caught close, NNK slowed down the ball in a ruck 5m out, penalty – UCT played it quickly, but a mistake saw NNK turn the ball over. The hosts worked their way back into UCT territory, mainly with the help of penalties against the students for offside in rucks, but good contest in the lineouts by Mike Passaportis won back crucial ball. NNK’s big pack proceeded to play closer with pick and goes and one-off runners, but the UCT defence was solid and the Ikeys forced errors with determined hits, looking very dangerous on turnovers. Another long move off a scrum with James Richards joining the line again put Sampson away, who did well to use the support inside, but a desperate deliberate knock-out by NNK stopped a great try scoring opportunity – penalty. Scrum under the NNK posts, the 4th try and a rare bonus point really were on the cards, but again UCT failed to finish as the ball spilled in the next ruck.
The Ikeys, frustrated by doing all the playing and getting no rewards were repeatedly penalised for offside in rucks but these and silly mistakes really were the only thing that released any pressure from NNK, who just as they thought their defence had held yet another UCT onslaught overthrew a lineout on their 22. Jody Burch gathered, beat the flyhalf and scored his 2nd try with 5 minutes to go – finally the bonus point!
A kick-off and three penalties later NNK mauled a lineout 10m out, the Ikey forwards did well to stop the drive, but the hosts set up another maul after a penalty in front of the posts to score and convert, keeping the fight and some pride in their performance. It was UCT however who had the last laugh, with some great defence off the kick-off, forcing an NNK knock-on, Dave Edgar playing the crucial second pass away from the turnover, sending Pete Haw over for the 5th try. Game over, 16-38.
UCT: 1 Vakai Reserves:
Ashley Wells, Dylan Rogers, Craig Kleu, Daniel van der Merwe, Gareth Wright