Pouncing: Fullback Therlow Pietersen, in action against Shimlas in 2010, scored another outstanding try against FNB Pukke in UCT's 36-8 win last night.
If, on the field, the FNB Pukke could have matched the off-the-field show they put on - a packed and vocal stadium, pipers, balloons, a marimba band and Valentine smooches among them - they might have fared better against FNB UCT in their Varsity Cup clash in Potchefstroom on 14 February.
Instead, it was the Ikey Tigers who stole the show and four points from the clash, running out easy 36-8 winners and earning a precious bonus point by scoring four tries. The victory also took UCT to the top of the standings, joint first on nine points with the University of Johannesburg, but with a markedly better points difference. (Champions, FNB Maties, suffered a surprise 15-21 defeat at the hands of the University of Free State's FNB Shimlas.)
For the first five minutes of the UCT game, however, it was all North-West University. No doubt spurred on by the partisan crowd, Pukke sprinted to an 8-0 lead in those opening five minutes, courtesy of a penalty and a try. Those would be their only scores of the match.
UCT settled down, got their running game running, and by half-time had amassed a comfortable 19-8 lead, thanks to tries from 'Tiger' Bax, Therlow Pietersen and Nizaam Carr (Carr, in his first Varsity Cup start, was eventually named Player that Rocks, aka Man of the Match), and two conversions by Demetri Catrakilis.
A fourth try, by Paul Cohen early in the second half, earned UCT their first bonus point for the season (score: 24-8). With the wind well and truly knocked out of the Pukke's sails, the Tigers then took their foot off the gas, settling for four penalties by Catrakilis instead.
That, explains coach, Kevin Foote, suited the team just right. After two away games at altitude and a few niggles among the players, there was no need to play the entire match to the hilt, Foote decided.
"We thought why not give the guys as much rest with the job done there," he says.
But Foote understands those mid-game lulls may not always be forthcoming. And despite the defeat of favourites, Maties, there's still a long way to go.
But the team is confident going into its next match, against Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University at UCT on 21 February, kick-off around 19h00.
"We're hoping that a nice crowd comes out, and that we can play a nice style of rugby for them," says the coach.
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