There were two hard-fought matches in the Varsity Shield on Monday night, as both games saw the lead change hands several times before ending in thrilling one-point victories for FNB UKZN and FNB Fort Hare.
The FNB UKZN Impi travelled to Bloemfontein to take on log leaders FNB CUT, the only unbeaten team left in the competition, and emerged 39-38 victors thanks to the heroics of their right wing Jaco Potgieter.
The UKZN kicker scored a try and slotted six penalties, including a long-range winning kick in the final stages of the match to win the game for his team and deservedly claim the Man of the Match Award.
CUT will take two bonus points from the encounter after they scored four tries in yet another second-half come back, and, although it was not enough to seal victory on the night and protect their unbeaten record, they do go two points clear of nearest rivals Wits on the Varsity Shield log at the end of the first half of the season.
UKZN produced a determined effort, controlling possession and regularly punishing CUT for their mistakes and they will take much confidence from this performance into the rest of their matches in this inaugural competition.
It was just as exciting in Alice where FNB Fort Hare hosted the dangerous FNB UWC side and secured their first win in the Varsity Shield.
UWC's fluid backline caused early headaches for the home team, with the prolific Anthony Volminck getting over for an early try. The other wing Donovan Williams got on the scoresheet late in the first half to give UWC a 12-6 half-time lead.
However, second-half tries to outside centre Thabo Ratyana and hooker Vuyisani Mavuso put Fort Hare in front, where they stayed for the rest of the match to finish 18-17 victors in yet another epic Varsity Shield encounter.
All the scorers and teams from Monday, February 21:
CUT 38 UKZN 39
For FNB CUT:
Tries: Cook, Pretorius, Sibanda, Mhlanga
Cons: Myburgh 3
Pens: Myburgh 4
For FNB UKZN:
Tries: Engelbrecht, Schonert, Potgieter
Cons: Potgieter 3
Pens: Potgieter 6
FNB CUT: 15 Nhlanganiso Sibanda, 14 Alec Mhlanga, 13 Jaco Oosthuizen, 12 Leon Pretorius, 11 Frederick Badenhorst, 10 Jannie Myburgh, 9 Inus Kritzinger (captain), 8 Anton Smit, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Frans Sisita, 5 Gavin Annadale, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Werner Pretorius, 2 Deon Gouws, 1 Rudi Britz.
Replacements: 16 Francois Loxton, 17 Rudi Fuls, 18 Danie Smith, 19 Henco van Zyl, 20 Egan Gysman, 21 Wally Cordier, 22 PW Roux, 23 Petri Coetzee.
FNB UKZN: 15 Kirsten Jones, 14 Jaco Potgieter, 13 Willem Rheeder, 12 Kurt Mavrodaris, 11 Louis Nondela, 10 Peter Grunow, 9 Zander Engelbrecht, 8 Absolom Mumba, 7 Robert Warnock, 6 Lwazi Ngcungama, 5 Tinashe Bopoto, 4 Gerrit Fourie, 3 Marc Colia, 2 Justin Meanwell (captain), 1 Kurt Schonert.
Replacements: 16 Dayne Smith, 17 Luciando Santos, 18 Chris Ndlovu, 19 Lean Stevens, 20 Calvin Channing, 21 Wessel Booysen, 22 Jake Adam, 23 Mazisi Ostrich
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Fort Hare 18 UWC 17
For FNB Fort Hare:
Tries: Ratyana, Mavuso
Pens: Katywa 2
For FNB UWC:
Tries: Volminck, Williams, Van Jaarsveld
Con: Van Hollenhoven
FNB Fort Hare: 15 Ayanda Mateisi, 14 Lukhanyiso Fana, 13 Thabo Ratyana, 12 Lukhanyiso Magele, 11 Sabelo Kolanisi, 10 Qondani Katywa, 9 Sibabalwe Mtsulwana, 8 Thando Ndondo (captain), 7 Nkosikhona Nofuma, 6 Billy Dutton, 5 Sokhana Mkona, 4 Itumeleng Mokae, 3 Sive Ntwasa, 2 Vuyisani Mavuso, 1 Luvuyo Kama.
Replacements: 16 Luzuko Nyabaza, 17 Xola Mapapu, 18 Mzwandile Yalezo, 19 Aphelele Maho, 20 Sichangele Mateza, 21 Garth van Rayner, 22 Vuyo Mbotu, 23 Siyabula Sijula.
FNB UWC: 15 Ashley Kok, 14 Donovan Williams, 13 Justin McKay, 12 Kenwin Weiner, 11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Charl van Hollenhoven, 9 Denzil Willemse, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Griffith Temba, 6 Rashaad Williams, 5 Juan Paul Kellerman (captain), 4 Garrick Mathee, 3 Zolani Faku, 2 Charlie van Jaarsveld, 1 Kelvin de Bruyn.
Replacements: 16 Rudi Deim, 17 Carlo Jacobs, 18 Conroy Eiman, 19 Garth Arendse, 20 Fredrick Muller, 21 Adrian Herman , 22 Ambrose Steyn, 23 Kieran James.
Referee: Mlungiseli Mdashe