The North West University (Pukke) opened their account in the 2009 FNB Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff International, when they beat Free State University (Shimlas) 27-15 at Shimla Park, Bloemfontein, on Monday.
Holding off a late charge by the home team, after taking a 17-0 half-time lead and making it 20-0 early in the second period, the visitors took home four valuable league points with a win that was based on that first-half blitz.
Varsitycup.co.za reports that it was also a game of lost opportunities, as Shimlas captain Jaco Colyn said: “We simply didn’t use all our opportunities.”
In stark contrast, Pukke captain Willem van der Wal felt his team, after a narrow two-point loss in the first round, can now build on this win and look forward to a fruitful tournament. “There are still six games left and if we keep working hard we could be there at the end,” Van der Wal said.
Pukke enjoyed territorial advantage throughout the first half and the high error count by the home team certainly didn’t help their cause either. The Shimla scrumhalf and captain, Colyn, was the one bright light as his educated boot kept the visitors at bay for lengthy periods.
But with the first half descending into a comedy of errors at times and the Shimlas’ discipline also letting them down, the scoreboard reflected rather one-sided.
In fact it was a shocking pass that set up the first scoring opportunity, as Pukke wing Randall April pounced on the loose ball and raced clear for a try inside the first minute. Teuns Kotzé added the conversion and it was 7-0 before most spectators had taken their seats.
Kotzé then missed two golden opportunities to add penalties as the first quarter finished with the visitors still just 7-0 ahead, despite their territorial advantage.
The next score came in the form of a drop-goal, slotted by Pukke No.10 WD Botha in the 26th minute, to make it 10-0.
Pukke’s dominance brought them further rewards in the 36th minute, when after a number of phases, centre Jacques de Kock barged over for the second try. Kotzé added the conversion to make it 17-0 as half-time approached.
Kotzé got his team further ahead when slotted a penalty in the 44th minute and at 20-0 the game looked to be over as a contest.
The Shimlas finally broke their duck on the scoreboard when, after their first decent period of continuity in the game, wing Wouter Stieger went over in the 49th for his team’s first try. And their good fortune continued when, from a charged down kick, centre Donovan Jacobs scored in the 52nd minute. Neither conversion was successful, but at 10-20 there was hope yet.
And that resurgence continued when, in the 61st minute, Shimlas again took the ball through several phases before replacement Jos de Klerk barged over for the third try. Shimlas changed kickers – Lionel Cronjé for Niel Jacobs – but still there was no luck. However, at 15-20 the game was on.
But it was the visitors who, from turnover ball, saw scrumhalf Teuns Kotzé going over. He also added the conversion and at 27-15 it left the home team with a huge mountain to climb.
That proved to be a mountain too high and despite a few late rushes, the game ended with Pukke recording their first win – 27-15.
For the Shimlas:
Tries: Stieger, Jacobs, De Klerk
Tries: April, De Kock, Kotzé
Cons: Kotzé 3