FNB UP-Tuks retained their Varsity Cup title by storming to a comprehensive 44-5 victory over FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Monday.
The powerful Pretoria unit scored five tries to hand Maties their first defeat of the season, and just their third loss at home in six years of Varsity Cup rugby.
The match started at a frantic pace, with some big collisions as both teams threw everything at one another in the tense opening exchanges.
The home side lost two early line-outs which gave UP-Tuks the attacking platform they needed to take the early lead, and they duly notched two quick tries to open up a 16-0 advantage.
Scrumhalf Danie Faasen was first to score when he burst over following some sustained pressure from his powerful forward pack on the Maties tryline, and his halfback partner Willie du Plessis followed that up soon afterwards when he finished off a flowing movement to give UP-Tuks the upper hand at the first strategy break.
Another lost Maties line-out saw UP-Tuks wing Vainon Willis come within inches of scoring their third try, but he was forced into touch as he went to ground the ball in the corner, much to the relief of the Stellenbosch crowd.
However, the visitors kept the pressure on and they were rewarded when skipper Jono Ross bounced out of a tackle to get over next to the poles just before halftime, giving them a commanding 24-0 lead at the break.
The Pretoria side started the second half in dominant style, hammering away at the Maties defence, and it was not long before wing Courtnall Skosan forced his way over for their fourth try.
Despite their desperate situation, Maties did not give in and eventually got on the scoreboard when the ball was worked out to wing Clearance Khumalo who dived over in the corner for a try which reduced the gap to 32-5.
UP-Tuks hit back with a penalty from Handre Pollard before fullback Clayton Blommetjies made the most of a dropped pass by popping over a drop-goal to put them 36-5 ahead.
The final blow was struck just minutes before the final whistle when Willis snatched an intercept to race away for the try which secured UP-Tuks' second Varsity Cup title with the biggest winning margin in a final.
For FNB Maties:
For FNB UP-Tuks:
Tries: Faasen, Du Plessis, Ross, Skosan, Willis
Cons: Pollard 5
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 JH Potgieter, 9 James Alexander, 8 Reniel Hugo, 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Frederik Kirsten, 17 Neil Oelofse, 18 Reuben Johannes, 19 Beyers de Villiers, 20 Jean Nel, 21 Dean Grant, 22 JP Lewis, 23 Brendan Pitzer.
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 Piet Lindeque, 12 Handre Pollard, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Basil Short, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Sabelo Nhlapo, 18 Schalk Van Heerden, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Christopher Bosch, 22 Riaan Britz, 23 Christoph Gouws.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Lusanda Jam, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Deon van Blommestein