The heavy rain in Bloemfontein on Monday took its toll on the pitch and many feared that the conditions might inhibit Shimlas' attacking ambitions.
Those fears proved unfounded, though, when the hosts took the fight to the highly-rated Tuks pack and then unleashed their dangerous backs to score three tries inside 35 minutes. The players left the field for a brief period due to lightning in the area. When the players returned, UFS Shimlas struggled to regain the initiative.
The visitors hit back in the second half via two well-executed mauls, coming within four points of the hosts with nine minutes left on the clock, but the Free Staters had the final say, scoring in the last minute to secure the four-try bonus point and an important win.
With one round to play, Shimlas are well placed to top the FNB Varsity Cup log. By contrast, Tuks – who claimed no log points from the fixture in Bloem – may need a win against UJ next week to advance to the semi-finals.
FNB UFS Shimlas 26 (19) – Tries: Jooste Nel, Ruwald van der Merwe, Litha Nkula, Nqobani Dlamini. Conversions: Nkula (3).
FNB UP-Tuks 15 (3) – Tries: Mihlali Stamper, Allister Williams. Conversion: Stefan Coetzee. Penalty: Walter Visser.
In Bellville, UJ powered their way to a 50-28 bonus-point win against UWC to move clear of the relegation zone. The Orange Army can breathe easier having secured their place in next year’s FNB Varsity Cup. What’s more, the big win against UWC has kept them in the hunt for a spot in the 2022 playoffs – although they will need to win their next match and hope that other results go their way.
UWC will lament their poor performance in this must-win fixture. They failed to meet the challenge of the UJ forwards at the gainline and lost the territorial battle. The hosts conceded a series of penalties in their own half and flank Godfrey Muzanargwo was shown two yellow cards – and ultimately a red – before the end of the first stanza.
UJ used their maul and the big kicking boot of Jonathan Viljoen to devastating effect. They went to the break with a 31-14 lead and with the four-try bonus point in the bag. The visitors maintained the pressure after the break. The attack racked up 50 points, but the defence could not stop UWC from claiming a bonus point for four or more tries.
UWC face Maties next week. They will need a bonus-point win at the Danie Craven Stadium, and they will need other results to go their way, in order to avoid relegation to the FNB Varsity Shield.
FNB UWC 28 (14) – Tries: Mauritz Swart, Will Vraagom (1x7), Justin Theys, Peter Williams (1x7). Conversions: Lyle Hendricks (2).
FNB UJ 50 (24) – Tries: Keegan Joubert, Darnell Osuagwu (2), Musawenkosi Tshabalala, Chergin Fillies, Shaun-Christian Baxter, Kelvin Kanenungo. Conversions: Jonathan Viljoen (6). Penalty: Viljoen.
In Stellenbosch, winger Marcqiewn Titus scored a hat-trick as Maties thrashed the already-relegated Madibaz 61-21. Two of Titus’ tries were seven-pointers, and it was no surprise when he was named the FNB Player That Rocks.
The hosts scored eight tries in total, with flyhalf Jurie Matthee and replacement loose forward Siya Matanda each grabbing a brace. Matthee also kicked seven conversions and a penalty goal to finish with a 27-point haul.
FNB Maties 61 (31) – Tries: Marcqiewn Titus (2x7, 1x5), Chris Rossouw, Jurie Matthee (2), Siya Matanda (2). Conversions: Matthee (7). Penalty: Matthee.
FNB Madibaz 21 (7) – Tries: Arnouw Nel, Anovuyo Moyikwa, Jade Stoffels. Conversions: Sibalomzi Mqeni, Kholiowe Khonza (2).
The Eagles scored two late tries to beat a gutsy CUT Ixias team 33-14 in Bloemfontein. With rain pouring down throughout the match, both sides played within themselves while making good use of their forwards.
The hosts took a 14-7 lead late in the first half thanks to two driving maul tries that saw their backs rush in to help the forwards get over the line.
But the Eagles, who opened the scoring with a maul try from lock Marvelous Mashimbyi, hit back just before the break when winger Tino Swanepoel scored from a kick-pass. NWU’s other wing, Keenan Twigg, finished off a backline move at the end of the third quarter, before scrumhalf Sylvester Hassien and No 8 André Fouché struck late to secure a bonus-point win that keeps the Eagles’ semi-final hopes alive.
FNB CUT Ixias 14 (14) – Tries: Christiaan Venter, Septimus Derkesen. Conversions: Floris Brand (2).
FNB NWU Eagles 33 (12) – Tries: Marvelous Mashimbyi, Tino Swanepoel, Keenan Twigg, Sylvester Hassien, André Fouché. Conversions: Martin Venter (4).
In Johannesburg, the UCT Ikeys boosted their hopes of hosting a semi-final with a 47-23 win against Wits. The visitors led 14-0 after 20 minutes thanks to tries by centre Suleiman Hartzenberg (point-of-origin) and hooker Keagan Blanckenberg, before the hosts hit back with two converted tries that levelled the scores.
But UCT crossed the line again in first-half stoppage time through lock Reynhardt Crous and went on to dominate the second half, scoring another four tries. Wits didn’t help their cause by having two players – flank Alexander Skudder and lock Edward White – yellow carded within 10 minutes of each other.
FNB Wits 23 (14) – Tries: Dameon Venter, Luhle Matyolweni, Ebot Buma (1x7). Conversions: Chris Humphries (3).
FNB UCT Ikeys 47 (19) – Tries: Suleiman Hartzenberg (1x7), Keagan Blanckenberg, Reynhardt Crous, Ntokozo Makhaza, Duran Koevort, Thomas Meyer, Jason MacLeod Smith (1x7). Conversions: Koevort (2), Kyle Bowman (2).
FNB Varsity Cup Round 9 fixtures (11 April):
● FNB UJ vs FNB UP-Tuks (17:00, UJ Stadium, SuperSport channel 211)
● FNB NWU Eagles vs FNB Wits (19:00, Fanie du Toit Sports Ground, SuperSport channel 211)
● FNB Maties vs FNB UWC (19:00, Danie Craven Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
● FNB Madibaz vs FNB UFS Shimlas (19:00, Madibaz Stadium, SuperSport Schools App)
● FNB UCT Ikeys vs FNB CUT Ixias (19:00, UCT Rugby Fields, SuperSport Schools App)