FNB UP-Tuks scored a deserved 29-18 Varsity Cup win over the hapless defending champions FNB UCT in last-round action at the Green Mile on Monday.
The visitors trailed at halftime, but scored three second-half tries - which also secured a four-try bonus point - to hit the top of the log, with the FNB Maties still due to play against FNB UJ in Johannesburg at 7pm.
The match started promisingly enough with both sides running but that did not last even two minutes before the match degenerated into a multitude of stoppages - 39 penalties, 33 lineouts and 22 scrums and their bits and pieces.
UCT could well have won the thing but their last 10 minutes were disastrous.
UCT, leading 18-8, looked in a good position but replacement James Tatham knocked on and then tackled the Tukkie who footed free and wanted to chase. The penalty became a lineout and the lineout became a maul as every UP-Tuk lineout did. The Tukkies bashed but UCT won a turnover and tried to run it out. That ended in another lineout, another maul, another bash session and a try for powerful wing Deon Helberg. That made the score 18-16.
Dillyn Leyds kicked the ball out on the full from the re-start. The scrum became a penalty and another lineout and another maul and another penalty, this time accompanied with a yellow card for replacement lock Pallo Manuel. There followed another lineout, another maul and a try which gave the Tukkies the lead for the first time in the match. 24-18.
Desperate UCT tried to run but were penalised. Another penalty, a five-metre lineout and this time the Tukkies swirled around the back and massive Sthembiso Mlongo scored. Willie du Plessis for some reason missed the conversion, the final whistle went and the Ikey Tigers looked downhearted as the spectre of relegation stalked amongst them..
The Ikeys had played with the prevailing south-easter and scored in the first four minutes when two penalties put them on the attack, scrumhalf Liam Slatem tapped and fullback Leyds dummied and slipped over inside Jerome Pretorius. 8-0.
Tukkies did well into the wind, dominating both possession and territory. A penalty gave them a five-metre lineout which then became a five-metre scrum and Hayden Groepes burst through Nick Holton to level the scores after 30 minutes.
The Ikeys then scored a splendid try, one not penalty fuelled. From a scrum on the left, they got quick ball away from the massive Tukkie pack and great passes by Adrian Kritzinger and Leyds gave wing Richard Stewart an overlap and he scored in the right corner, whence Holton converted.
This try on a rare visit to the land of the Tukkies gave UCT a 16-8 lead at the break.
Wind-powered the Tukkies spent most of the time in Ikeyland but the Ikeys got out and Holton goaled a penalty into the wind. 18-8, and so it stayed till UCT engineered their own demise.
In the end the Tukkies had won with a bonus point, as they secured a home semifinal. The Ikeys got no points from their home match and they now have to prepare for a promotion/relegation match against the runners-up in the Varsity Shield.
For FNB UCT:
Tries: Leyds, Stewart
Cons: Holton 2
For FNB Tuks:
Tries: Groepes, Helberg, Liebenberg, Mhlongo
Cons: Du Plessis 3
UCT: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Adrian Kritzinger, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Nick Holton, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Brad Bosman, 6 Ntsolo Setlaba (captain), 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 James Kilroe, 3 Francois van Wyk, 2 Dayne Jans, 1 Wes Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Matt Page, 17 Shane Meier, 18 Pallo Manuel, 19 James Tatham, 20 Stephen Wallace, 21 Paul Cohen, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Digby Webb.
UP-Tuks: 15 Hayden Groepes, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Dabeon Draghoender, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Lohan Jacobs, 8 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Nqubeko Zulu, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Zane Botha (captain), 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 Sthembiso Mlongo, 19 Lee Thompson, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Fanie Booysen, 22 Gerhardus Kotzee, 23 Basil Short.
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Matt Kemp, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: JC Fortuin, Deon van Blommestein