Visiting the defending champions in their backyard is a tough ask at the best of times, even more so when said backyard is at high altitude.
FNB UCT Ikey Tigers could leave Pretoria with their dignity intact, however, despite going down 24-16 to FNB Tuks in the second round of the 2013 FNB Varsity Cup on 11 February.
Ikeys welcomed back Nicholas Holton (centre), Dillyn Leyds (fullback) and former captain Ntsolo Setlaba (flank) to the first XV for the match. But, it was Tuks that grabbed the initiative through No 8 Jean Cook, who bulldozed over within five minutes after a strong maul from the home team. Flyhalf Tiaan Schoeman added the extra three points.
Both sides tore into each other for the rest of the half, but for no further reward as the half-time whistle blew with Tuks leading 8-0. The home team doubled that lead early in the second stanza, driving over from an attacking line-out with flanker Shaun Adendorff getting the touch-down.
At 16-0, Ikey heads could have dropped, but seven minutes later UCT hooker Michael Willemse spun out of a tackle to score under the posts. It was just reward for the Ikeys after tenacious attacking play. Ikeys continued to lay siege to the home goal line, but it was Tuks who next troubled the scorers. A stray pass from UCT allowed Tuks winger Courtnall Skosan to sprint nearly the length of the field to score somewhat against the run of play, with the conversion from Handre Pollard rubbing salt into Ikey wounds.
Still the Ikeys refused to lay down their arms. With four minutes remaining, replacement scrumhalf Rick Schroeder dummied smartly allowing Dillyn Leyds, now playing at flyhalf, to gallop in under the posts. Leyds converted his own try to set up a thrilling finale, but Tuks held on for a 24-16 victory.
The bonus-point loss leaves UCT in seventh place on the FNB Varsity Cup log with three points from two games. Maties top the embryonic standings with the maximum 10 points.
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