FNB UWC got their Varsity Shield campaign off to a winning start - beating the University of KwaZulu-Natal by 33-9 at the UWC Sport Stadium on Monday.
The home side led from start to finish and scored three tries to none to give the lively home supporters the winning start they were looking for.
The University of Western Cape's Charl van Vollenhoven was in fine form with the boot as he slotted all three conversions on offer and also four penalties, the first one from 45 metres out to take the early lead.
The UWC team looked threatening with ball in hand and seemed prepared to run the ball from anywhere on the park, twice from behind their own tryline in the first half. Their endeavour was eventually rewarded when flank Uzair Cassiem crashed over the whitewash for the only try of the first 40 minutes.
UKZN fullback Kirsten Jones kicked two penalties out of four attempts in the swirling wind and the home team took a 10-6 lead into the half-time break.
UKZN came out strongly in the second half and managed to gain a good field position and put some sustained pressure on the UWC's defensive systems.
After the try-scorer Cassiem was shown a yellow card, and Jones had traded penalties with Van Vollenhoven, the score was 13-9 and the match was seemingly in the balance.
However, crucial errors at vital points and a determined defensive effort from the hosts meant that the Men from Pietermaritzburg were unable to cross the whitewash while UWC were down to 14 men.
After soaking up the pressure in the beginning of the second half, UWC took control of the game when the two replacement backs Adrian Herman and Warrick Rhode linked up to bust through the UKZN midfield and Rhode went over under the poles for an impressive long-range try.
In the final stages UKZN tried valiantly to get back in the game and looked certain to score at least a consolation try, but the ball was intercepted by speedy UWC left-wing Anthony Volminck who raced the length of the field to put the finishing touch on an exciting performance.
The festive crowd in Bellville was rewarded with some exciting, running rugby as the home team proved more threatening than their opponents on attack and they will take some good momentum into their next game against Wits - who beat Fort Hare in Alice on Monday - in Johannesburg on Thursday.
For the University of Western Cape:
Tries: Cassiem, Rhode, Volminck
Cons: Van Vollenhoven 3
Pens: Van Vollenhoven 4
For the University of KwaZulu-Natal:
Pens: Jones 3
FNB UWC: 15 Ashley Kok, 14 Donovan Williams, 13 Justin Mackay, 12 Kenwin Weiner, 11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Charl van Vollenhoven, 9 Frederick Muller, 8 Heinie Marcus, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Gary Makibi, 5 Juan Paul Kellerman, 4 Griffith Temba, 3 Carlo Jacobs (captain), 2 Charlie van Jaarsveld, 1 Denzel Riddles.
Replacements: 16 Rudie Diem, 17 Zolani Faku, 18 Kemsley Wesso, 19 Rashaad Williams, 20 Havillan Abrahams, 21 Warrick Rhode, 22 Adrian Herman, 23 Kelvin de Bruyn.
FNB UKZN: 15 Kirsten Jones, 14 Louis Nondela, 13 Willem Rheeder, 12 Wessel Booysen, 11 Gareth Borchardt, 10 Peter Grunow, 9 Calvin Channing, 8 Kyle Ross, 7 Robert Warnock, 6 Garren Holdsworth, 5 Tinashe Bopoto, 4 Gerrit Fourie, 3 Mazisi Ostrich, 2 Justin Meanwell (captain), 1 Kurt Schonert.
Replacements: 16 Nico Du Plooy, 17 Luciando Santos, 18 Chris Ndlovu, 19 Lwazi Ngcungama, 20 Zander Engelbrecht, 21 Kurt Mavrodaris, 22 Jaco Potgieter, 23 Marc Colia.
Referee: Mlungiseli Mdashe
TMO: JC Fortuin