Eighty minutes of ferocious derbyrugby on 4 March ended with FNB Maties triumphing 37-15 over the home team, 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 Maties early on, 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' 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 near 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 thanks to his team gaining ground after 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 in recent weeks, the Ikeys 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, a late intercept try from replacement Maties wing Jean-Paul Lewis ensured that Ikey fans trudged home with hearts that matched their blue body paint.
The loss leaves UCT second-from-bottom, while the unbeaten Maties consolidated their position at the top of the pile. The Ikeys next take on FNB Shimlas on 11 March at Xerox Shimla Park in Bloemfontein.
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