Two tries from FNB UCT wing Dane Johnson helped the Ikeys to an impressive 32-12 Varsity Cup win over FNB UJ in Cape Town on Monday afternoon.
The FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff has provided a lot of quality entertainment already this season and Monday’s game at Groote Schuur was no exception.
With a strong wind making a huge difference to the match, it was ultimately UCT’s ability to handle the condition better, and the University of Johannesburg players ill-discipline, which made the difference.
UCT flyhalf Matt Rosslee was named the man-of-the-match, for his contribution with the boot and his ability to control the game, but there were also a number of other players in the UCT jersey who played their part.
The home side started the match with the wind at their backs and were quickly on the front foot. While UJ kept them at bay in the early exchanges, the wind was certainly keeping the visitors pegged in their own half.
After just six minutes, from an attacking five metre scrum, UCT’s No.10 put Johnson in a gap just off his left shoulder and the UJ defence had no answer. Dotting down under the poles, Johnson gave Rosslee an easy conversion and the Ikeys led 7-0.
Just a couple minutes after the restart then UJ forced a penalty on the UCT 22 metre line and Arno Coetzee had the chance to put his side on the board. The strong wind made it a near impossible attempt for Coetzee and the ball flew well wide of the mark, allowing UCT centre Tiger Bax to mark the ball over the line.
The visiting side enjoyed a good phase of play shortly after that, moving the ball around well, but they just couldn’t break the homes sides defence. Almost inevitably they were continuing to concede penalties which allowed UCT to relieved the pressure.
As the home side started to control the possession they forced another opportunity for Rosslee to have a shot at goal. With fifteen minutes gone, he delivered the three-pointer and coach John Dobson’s men led 10-0.
On 20 minutes UJ, enjoying another string of good possession, turned down the opportunity to kick at goal from a close-range penalty and were rewarded with their first try of the game. Finishing off the move, flyhalf Coetzee, dotted down in the right hand corner. A difficult conversion in the wind fell well short and the score stayed at 10-5 to UCT.
Therlow Pieterson then extended the UCT lead with his try. Coming into the line at pace, following an attacking ruck just five metres from the visitors line, Pieterson went over untouched. The try scoring movement had begun with a scrum on the five metre line of UJ. With the successful conversion the Ikeys had a 12 point lead with just over ten minutes left in the half.
UJ, while down on the scoreboard, were playing some good rugby as the match approached half time. To the credit of the UCT defence though, they held strong and in fact were the team to score last before the break. A turnover, inside their own half, quickly spread wide, gave Johnson a 40 yard run-in and, with an impressive conversion added, UCT had a dominant 24-5 lead.
Two minutes after the break and UJ puts themselves right back in the match. Some good recycling of possession, coupled with some good support play, allowed captain Neil Visagie to go over in the left hand corner. Earl Lewis added the two points and the lead was down to just 12 points.
With the strong wind at their backs the students from Johannesburg were enjoying plenty of time in the UCT half and pushing for more points but the Cape Town side, who were choosing to keep the ball in hand rather than kick it out, held strong in their half.
Surprisingly then, playing against the conditions, it was UCT who finished the match the stronger. Star centre Tiger Bax finished off a sweeping move from UCT following the initial break from Marcello Sampson. The conversion was unsuccessful but the home side had a 17 point lead with just 20 minutes left on the clock.
UJ’s task was made that much harder with 15 minutes left on the clock when prop forward Clint van Niekerk was yellow carded for holding on at ruck time – the unfortunate victim of his teams repeated infringements.
The penalty count continued to mount against the UJ side and, with under 10 minutes left in the game, UCT had 20 point lead thanks to Rosslee’s second successful penalty.
Just a couple minutes from the end then UJ No.8 Sisa Mafu was also shown a yellow card – this time for a high tackle – but by that stage the victory was secure for JJ Gagiano’s men.
Playing their attacking style of rugby UCT ran in four tries in total against Visagie’s side and, while UJ certainly provided a stern test, the home side were deserved winners on the day.
Tries: Johnson 2, Pieterson, Bax
Con: Rosslee 3
Pen: Rosslee 2
Tries: Coetzee, Visagie
Yellow Cards: Clint van Niekerk (UJ – 65 minutes), Sisa Mafu (UJ – 76 minutes)