UJ, Maties share spoils in Joburg thriller
March 19, 2012

The University of Johannesburg and their Stellenbosch rivals shared the spoils, 10-all, in thrilling match - completing the last round of league action in the 2012 Varsity Cup.

The FNB Maties, who enjoyed a 2-0 half-time lead at a packed UJ Stadium in Johannesburg, had to wait till the final hooter for the match-saving try.

But the result is that they will now host the selfsame FNB UJ side at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch next week in one of two semifinals.

Both sides' defence was brutal on the night, with shuddering hits throughout a match of high intensity.

The Maties looked more dangerous with the little ball they had in the first half, whilst UJ - despite their surfeit of possession, almost 70 percent of the ball - could not crack the watertight maroon defensive wall.

It was a brief lapse in the second half that produced the game's first, when the bigger UJ forwards barged their way through.

[embed:video:id=139101] UJ received three early penalties - first at a tackle, then for collapsing a maul, and again at the tackle. However, they then conceded a penalty for going off their feet at the breakdown. The home team wasted another chance by failing to control the ball at a ruck just five metres out, as they continued to charge at the Maties through their forwards.

In that opening stanza, which lasted just over 10 minutes, the Maties were required to make almost 30 tackles. However, UJ soon found themselves under pressure near their own line, courtesy of two great kicks - first by scrumhalf Donald Stevens and the second by flyhalf André Kemp.

Then, in the lead-up to the first-half strategy break, both teams made liberal use of the boot, but neither managed to break the deadlock.

As was the case in the opening minutes, the Maties were again penalised at the breakdown, UJ set up an attacking line-out and then promptly turned the ball over. This scenario repeated itself a few minutes later, as the home team continued to look for an opening, but conceded a penalty deep inside Maties territory.

It got even worse for the home side five minutes before the half-time break, as they coughed up the ball metres from the Maties line and suddenly found themselves desperately defending their own line after the ball was hacked up-field - conceding a penalty, which Donald Stevens kicked for the opening points of the match.

There was a penalty against the Maties at the breakdown, after the half-time hooter had already sounded, but home team hero Guy Cronjé pushed his attempt wide and the visitors held on to their two-point lead at the break.

UJ's increased error rate at the start of the second half did not help their cause much either, allowing Stellenbosch to finally enjoy a period of territorial advantage. It was now UJ's turn to absorb some pressure and they seemed to cope well - aided, of course, by a few uncharacteristic Maties errors.

A try had to come eventually and it went to burly UJ lock Marnus van Huyssteen, following another barrage of forward drives from the home team's pack. Cronjé's conversion made it 8-2 in favour of the home team. It had taken almost an hour, but UJ had finally managed to find a hole in the maroon wall.

Just before the second strategy break UJ won a penalty on the Maties 10-metre line, following a late charge on scrumhalf Rudi Paige, but Cronjé was again wide of the mark.

Maties again applied the blowtorch to the UJ, with replacement props Alistair Vermaak and Os Hamman particularly effective with their ball carries, but strong defence saw the ball spilled metres from the line. But the impressive maroon waves kept coming and so did the penalties against a tiring UJ outfit.

The one aspect where Maties seemed to have a clear edge was in the scrums, where Hamman gave UJ replacement Njabulo Mkize a torrid time. It wasn't long before the warning came against Mkize, but somehow the home team managed to turn it around and apply the pressure at the next scrum.

And then, a couple of scrums later, Hamman was penalised for dropping the bind, allowing Cronjé to stretch the lead to eight points (10-2), with just a few minutes remaining on the clock.

But the Maties - like all champion teams, as three-times winners of this competition - were not done yet.

They threw everything into one final attack and the maroon waves swept past the ever-thinning UJ defence, allowing inside centre Louis Jordaan to go over and give his team a chance of salvaging the draw.

Kemp obliged by kicking the conversion - deflating the home team's hopes of striking a psychological blow ahead of next week's semifinal clash in Coetzenburg.

The scorers:

For FNB UJ: Try: Van Huyssteen. Con: Cronjé. Pen: Cronjé

For FNB Maties: Try: Jordaan.Con: Kemp. Pen: Stevens

The teams:

UJ: 15 Worsie Kotze, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Justin St. Jerry, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Guy Cronjé, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Justin Wheeler (capt), 7 Wendal Wehr, 6 Johan van Deventer, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Marnus van Huyssteen, 3 Heinrich Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Wessel du Rand.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Njabulo Mkize, 18 Shane Kirkwood, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Jacques Pretorius, 21 Divan van Zyl, 22 Aubrey McDonald, 23 Jaco Vermeulen.

Maties: 15 André Smith, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Wessel Coetzee, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Clearance Khumalo, 10 André Kemp, 9 Donald Stevens, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Helmut Lehmann (capt), 6 Sam Mabombo, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Reniel Hugo, 3 Hein van der Merwe, 2 Alfred Ries, 1 Brummer Badenhorst.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Swanepoel, 19 Nicholas de Jager, 20 Boela Abrahams, 21 Jarryd Buys, 22 Dean Hammand, 23 Os Hamman.

Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Gerrie de Bruin, Eduan Nel
TMO: Shaun Veldsman