UP-Tuks have finished the regular Varsity Cup season at the top of the log, their four-try bonus point victory over UCT earning them top spot, after the Maties played to a 10-all draw against UJ in a dramatic final round of 2012 league action on Monday evening.
FNB Tuks scored a last-minute try to condemn FNB UCT to a fifth loss of the season, as Tuks won 29-18, but little did the Men from Pretoria know that their fourth try would nudge them ahead of the Men in Maroon who drew 10-10 against FNB UJ later in the night.
That means that Tuks will now host the fourth-placed FNB NWU-Pukke in Pretoria next week (one versus four), followed by a rematch between the Maties and UJ at the Danie Craven Stadium (two versus three) - Stellenbosch ending the regular season unbeaten but their draw to UJ costing them a potential home final.
The Maties held a 2-0 half-time lead over UJ - don't forget the 2012 points-scoring system, folks! - but found themselves trailing 2-10 deep into the second half thanks to UJ lock Marnus van Huyssteen's try; the only try of the match until the 79th minute.
A Guy Cronjé conversion, followed later by a Worsie Kotze penalty, gave the hosts a 10-2 lead, but a late try - basically on the full-time hooter - from inside centre Louis Jordaan put his team back in at 7-10 down. Flyhalf André Kemp stepped up and slotted the conversion to draw the game, but it was little consolation in the end for the Maties who had conceded top spot on the log to Tuks by not claiming the win.
Tuks were very impressive in their 29-18 win over the hapless Ikeys, who will now have to play in a one-off promotion/relegation match - against the Varsity Shield runners-up - on the day of the 2012 final on Easter Monday.
The Ikeys led 16-8 at half-time, but lost their way in a frantic final ten minutes, as Tuks not only secured the victory but also top spot on the log through replacement Sthembiso Mlongo's late try.
In other last-round action on Monday, meanwhile, the FNB NWU-Pukke showed that they will be contenders in the play-offs with a whopping 64-24 win over the FNB Shimlas - who, like UCT, had a disappointing 2012 season. The Kovsies, however, did enough to finish ahead of the Ikeys and avoid that dreaded promotion/relegation encounter.
Last, but certainly not least, the FNB Madibaz showed that they were not simply a one-hit wonder, by smashing the Varsity Shield-bound FNB TUT Vikings by 90-34 in Tshwane - TUT's second time this season that they have conceded 90 points or more.
The Madibaz, victors over the Shimlas and Ikeys this season, finished in fifth place on the Varsity Cup log in the process - comfortably their best-ever finish in this tournament.
* In other Varsity Rugby action on Monday night, there will be a repeat of last year's Varsity Shield Final, after FNB Wits recorded a 28-15 win over FNB UWC in Cape Town. In other Shield action, FNB Fort Hare pipped FNB UKZN 16-15 in Pietermaritzburg.
* In Varsity Young Guns action, it was a bitter-sweet night for UJ's youngsters as they beat the Maties Under-20s by 32-31, but it was not enough to see them through into the inaugural tournament's semifinals. In other action, Tuks' U20s beat UCT's juniors by 66-8 - knocking out the Cape side and ensuring a smooth passage into the knock-outs for the Pretoria youngsters.
* Finally, in Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships action, Steinhoff Patria (NWU-Pukke) racked up a huge 87-8 win over Steinhoff Oppidani (NMMU) to finish top of the Hertz Pool, whilst Steinhoff Dagbreek (Maties) secured a semifinal win thanks to their 42-16 win over TUT's Steinhoff Monitor.