Few could blame the FNB UCT Ikey Tigers for taking their foot off the gas in the second half of a searing encounter with FNB Wits.
Taking an astonishing 42-0 lead into the half-time break and with 40 minutes remaining in the final round-robin match, the Ikeys can be forgiven for thinking that they had won their first game of the 2013 FNB Varsity Cup.
UCT's pushover try (credited to No 8 Bradley Bosman) in the first five minutes set the tone for a half almost totally skewed in UCT's favour. Fullback Ross Jones-Davies added the three points as UCT catapulted out of the blocks.
The onslaught was relentless.
Tiger Bax, playing his last Varsity Cup game for UCT, tumbled under the poles for the first of his two tries on the night, with Jones-Davies again on the money.
The floodgates were wide open and Ikeys winger Richard Stewart cantered over after the strategy break to add the home side's third try after some broken play from a lineout inside the Wits 22. It all got a bit messy after the try; the free-for-all brawl that ensued in the in-goal area resulted in two red cards and a yellow being shown. Bosman and Wits loose forward Rinus Bothma were the two that saw red, while Bothma's back row partner Carel Greeff spent ten minutes in the sin bin.
Ikeys coach Kevin Foote must have smiled at his charges' slick running rugby that entertained the crowds. Three more tries rounded off a dazzling half for UCT, including two from explosive scrumhalf and captain Liam Slatem.
Perhaps the Green Mile's north-side try line has an as-yet undiscovered magnetic field, because the second half was the polar opposite of the first. Wits ran in three unanswered goals before the second strategy break, picking up where the Ikeys left off with some entertaining running rugby.
Wits No 8 Jason Fraser was on the frontline of the many assaults on UCT's try line, and he was rewarded for his bulldozing runs with a try of his own.
Bax's last act for the Ikeys in the Varsity Cup was to repeat his first-half trick, galloping under the poles to give Jones-Davies another relatively simple conversion. The centre's second try was sandwiched by two Wits tries, including a late intercept.
The final score of 50-40 made the result look much closer than the game suggested.
Rarely does a team concede 40 points without looking in genuine danger of losing, and Foote was pleased with his team's first win of the season.
"I'm happy with the first half, and then we took our foot off the pedal a bit in the second," reflected Foote. "It's been a hard year, but we can grow from this.
"There are definitely positives we can take from this season. This whole team is back next year, except Tiger Bax, which is unfortunate. The fact is we can put fifty past teams. If we can fix that defence, then that's a good reflection [on our work this year].
"We'll keep being positive and we'll swing this tide. The players are a great bunch, a confident bunch and I'm very proud of them and what they've achieved."
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