FNB UCT Ikey Tigers were held to a 5-5 draw by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in the opening round of the 2013 FNB Varsity Cup on 4 February.
UCT couldn't capitalise on a monopoly of possession and territory as Madibaz equalised early in the second half through flanker Ulrich Pretorius, after Ikey centre David Ambunya had given the home team the lead with a superb touchdown in the first half. Ambunya and midfield partner Tiger Bax were constant thorns in the Madibaz's side, with their clever running and brave defence.
Neither team converted its try on a typically blustery night on UCT's Green Mile that witnessed fewer kicks than one would in a boxing match. Ikey flyhalf Ross Jones-Davies spurned a chance to give his team the lead in the second half when his penalty attempt from dead in front drifted agonisingly wide.
The spectators behind the Madibaz goal-line had the best view of the second half as UCT spent large periods camped on the opposition five-metre line. Chance after chance went begging as the Madibaz defence held firm against a relentless Ikey onslaught.
UCT head coach Kevin Foote was frustrated with the result but praised both defences for their sterling work.
"Ja, man; conditions were tough and we didn't get to express ourselves but I think both teams defended bravely," said Foote after the match.
Foote was pleased with the way his charges dominated possession, with few of the handling errors that blighted their 2012 campaign present against NMMU.
"We're there!" he said. "We've worked hard, our physicality was there, maybe just in these conditions we couldn't finish it off, but it's the same for both teams. I'm sure [NMMU] were also affected."
Ikey fans accustomed to seeing their team dominated up front could take heart from the impressive home tight five, which didn't take a step back in the scrums and at one stage stole three defensive Madibaz line-outs in a row.
"We've had [former Springbok] Hanyani Shimange and [US international] JJ Gagiano come in and they've worked well with the forwards, and they're doing nicely there now," reported Foote. "It's a focus for us. Teams think they're going to bully UCT, so we've put emphasis on our tight five; making sure they man up every game, so that no team is going to come here and think they're going to push us around."
UCT's next FNB Varsity Cup match is an away fixture against defending champions FNB Tuks (University of Pretoria) on 11 February. That match will be televised.
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