The 2013 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International got off to a flying start on Monday with defending champions FNB UP-Tuks going down to FNB NWU-Pukke in a thrilling match in Potchefstroom.
The home side dominated the early exchanges, scoring three tries on their way to a comfortable 24-0 advantage at halftime, but UP-Tuks showed the kind of fighting spirit that won them the title last year to claw their way back into the game and score four tries of their own in the second half.
Despite the brave fight-back from the champions, NWU-Pukke managed to hold the Pretoria juggernaut off in a tense finish which saw both sides throw everything at each other with the game on the line.
Earlier on Monday three-time champions FNB Maties got their campaign off to a solid start with a stunning second-half comeback against FNB UJ in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
With the biggest crowd ever assembled for an afternoon match in Varsity Cup history in attendance at the wind-swept arena, the Maties scored four unanswered tries after halftime to claim a 29-8 bonus point victory.
In Cape Town FNB UCT and the FNB NMMU Madibaz cancelled each other out as they battled to a 5-5 draw to share the spoils in their Monte Taljaard trophy encounter at a windy Green Mile.
The Madibaz played with the wind in the first half, but it was the Ikeys who took a slender 5-0 lead into the break. However, the visitors showed great character to come up with a try of their own and hold the Tigers to a draw on their home track.
FNB Wits were given a tough Varsity Cup initiation when they went down 61-7 to a rampant FNB UFS Shimlas side in front of their home fans in Johannesburg.
The Free State side scored four tries in each half to take top spot on the log, whilst last year's Varsity Shield champions Wits were left with no doubt about the quality of opposition they will face in their debut Varsity Cup season this year.
Meanwhile, in the Varsity Shield the FNB Fort Hare Blues scored a bonus-point try at the death to seal a 32-6 victory over former Varsity Cup outfit FNB TUT Vikings in Alice.
The loss leaves the Vikings without a win in their first three Varsity Shield matches and they face a tough task bouncing back after a nightmare start to the competition.
In Pietermaritzburg the FNB UKZN Impi suffered their first defeat of the season when they went down 26-12 to the FNB CUT Ixias who top the log as the only unbeaten team in the competition.