Peter de Villiers's FNB UWC side started the FNB Varsity Shield presented by Steinhoff International with a bang, beating the FNB TUT Vikings 42-4 in Bellville on Monday.
The Cape side scored 40 unanswered points through five tries in the second half to take the game away from the Vikings who were relegated from the Varsity Cup last year.
Both teams showed plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to run the ball from the offset, but could not find the killer blow, with the match scoreless at the first strategy break.
The visitors were enjoying a major territorial advantage in the first half with the wind at their backs, and piled on the pressure after UWC lock Methetheleli Fuzani was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown, but could not find a way over the tryline as the home side showed great commitment on defence.
With continuity a precious commodity it was the Vikings who took a slender 4-2 lead into the halftime break after outscoring UWC by two penalties to one in the opening half.
UWC came out after halftime and scored three quick tries to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Fuzani crashed over from close range shortly after the break and that was followed up by tries from scrumhalf Freddie Muller and left wing Minenhle Mthethwa to put them firmly in control at 26-4.
The bonus point was wrapped up after the second strategy break when replacement Donovan Williams cut the defensive line before finding outside centre Kenwin Weiner who dived over for the try which clinched a full house of five log points for the home side.
In Pietermaritzburg the FNB UKZN Impi overcame a determined FNB Fort Hare Blues side and some difficult conditions to register a gutsy 19-7 victory and start their season on a positive note.
The Impi failed to win a single game last year to finish with the Varsity Shield Wooden Spoon, so the win will come as a massive boost as they look to build some momentum this season.
There was no shortage of commitment from either side in the pouring rain, and it was anyone's game at the hour mark with the Impi holding a slender 8-7 lead.
However, the home side turned on the class in the final stages with the wind at their backs, and a try and three penalties sealed a valuable victory over the dangerous Eastern Cape side.
Varsity Shield action continues on Thursday, January 31, when De Villiers's UWC side travel to Bloemfontein to take on 2011 champions FNB CUT while the UKZN Impi will square off with FNB TUT in Pretoria.