Slatem: We always knew we were a championship side

07 April 2014 | Story by Newsroom
The Ikeys beat Pukke 39-33 in the dying moments of a thrilling Varsity Cup final.
The Ikeys beat Pukke 39-33 in the dying moments of a thrilling Varsity Cup final.

Victorious UCT Ikey Tigers captain Liam Slatem shook his head in disbelief as he walked up to the podium for the post-match interview.

He had watched the astonishing final few minutes from the bench as his team blazed to Varsity Cup glory in incredible fashion, scoring the winning try with the last move of the game.

Moments before being mobbed by delirious team-mates, Slatem said he was left "honestly speechless".

"Credit must go to Pukke," said the champion captain. "They were really great in front of their home crowd.

"We always knew that we were a championship side and I think our subs epitomised that when they came on the field and really just changed the game. Credit to them."

At half-time, Slatem's team found themselves three points behind in a tit-for-tat encounter.

"At half time we decided that we were just going to up the tempo. We realised that we hadn't really given anything yet, and we were still in the game. We said that we weren't going to have any regrets, so in the changing room, we just said 'no regrets', and everyone was in.

"Everyone bought into it and came out second half and managed to sneak it at the end," he grinned. "The party will be in Potch tonight, and the party will be happening in Cape Town for the next two weeks, probably!"

The Tigers were worthy of their nickname on Monday night, as they overcame a daunting eighteen-point deficit to snatch a fairy tale victory that the Brothers Grimm would have been chuffed with.

The 39-33 victory in Potchefstroom marked the second time that UCT won the Varsity Cup, having also triumphed against FNB Tuks in Pretoria in 2011. Being crowned champions is a remarkable improvement from last season, when a young Ikey Tigers squad finished the Varsity Cup season in seventh place.

Story by Yusuf Omar. Image by Luigi Bennet.

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