It was the maroon of Maties that clothed the happier faces after the final whistle on 4 March.
Eighty minutes of ferocious derby rugby ended with FNB Maties triumphing 37-15 over hosts FNB UCT Ikey Tigers in the latest round of the FNB Varsity Cup.
The lopsided score makes the Maties victory seem more comfortable than the Ikeys made it. Until the final quarter, the teams slugged it out tit for tat, with possession and territory somewhat equally shared.
Maties opened the scoring in the first five minutes when hooker Neethling Gericke dropped on the line after a driving maul. Flyhalf Dean Grant duly converted to give the visitors an early 8-0 lead.
Ikeys, under pressure from a Maties side that were blistering out of the blocks, weren't helped when scrumhalf and captain Liam Slatem was sin-binned for repeated infringements. Home fullback Ross Jones-Davies got the home side on the scoreboard with a penalty after the first strategy break, but Gericke repeated his trick to extend Maties's lead to 13-2.
Jones-Davies, again diligent with the boot, set up an attacking line-out for UCT from which eighth-man Bradley Bosman touched down in the corner. Jones-Davies converted from a tricky angle to send home fans into raptures.
Ikeys exploited their newfound momentum and bludgeoned the Maties defence onto the back foot. The pressure told early in the second half when centre Liam Bax scored to give UCT a 15-13 lead. However, the lead was short-lived as Maties centre Ryan Nell went over after his team won a prolonged bout of aerial ping pong.
Grant's conversion took the score to 21-15 in the visitors' favour. Ikeys created decent openings after that setback, but a combination of ill-advised decisions with ball in hand and stubborn defending kept the Maties try-line pure.
As appears customary for the Ikeys in recent weeks, they fell apart in the closing minutes. Maties flank Beyers de Villiers ignored a tiring defence to score under the poles, with Grant again adding three points.
As if the bonus-point try wasn't enough, replacement Maties wing Jean-Paul Lewis's late intercept try ensured that Ikey fans trudged home with hearts to match their body paint.
One concern for UCT coach Kevin Foote was the number of times his charges put themselves on the back foot in the backline by passing when taking the ball into contact appeared wiser. While the backs looked their typically dangerous selves for large periods, regularly passing into touch put the home side under needless pressure at times.
The loss leaves UCT second-from-bottom while the unbeaten Maties consolidated their position at the top of the pile. An away fixture to FNB Shimlas awaits the Ikeys on 11 March.
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