FNB Maties, the multiple defending Varsity Cup champions, ran in seven tries en route to a 49-17 victory over FNB NMMU in their fourth-round Varsity Cup clash at the Danie Craven Stadium, in Stellenbosch, on Monday evening.
The match ended on a dramatic note as three tries - two by the Maties - were scored in the final four minutes.
The visitors from 'The Windy City' must have felt at home when a howling South-Easter greeted the teams as they made their way on to field but a mere two minutes into the match they were reminded that the brute force of Maties rugby was going to be an even bigger factor.
Hooker and captain Callie Visagie dotted down after the Maties pack steam-rolled their way over the tryline and three minutes later scrumhalf Donald Stevens rounded off splendidly for his side's second try. Donald managed one conversion (12-0) and at this scoring rate, a try-fest was on the cards.
But the Port Elizbeth students regrouped and even managed to transfer play to the Maties' 22-metre area for a 12-minute passage of play during which they were held up thrice, just short of the tryline.
To add insult to injury they also hashed three penalty attempts, but they did manage to open their account shortly after the water break when their flyhalf Bradley Kretzmann finally found his range, just moments before Stevens landed a penalty (15-3).
In the play ahead of the half-time break, the Maties pinned the visitors down in their 22-metre area but with the spoiling wind playing havoc with their longer passes, the PE students managed to stage a telling break-out which ended with lock Louis Fourie scoring the Madibaz's first try. Kretzmann added the conversion for an 18-10 scoreline.
On the stroke of half-time, fullback Ruan Combrinck crashed over at the corner flag to give the Maties a 13-point half-time lead after his conversion attempt was blown away (23-10).
The Maties seemed to adopt a more direct approach after the break in an attempt to eliminate errors and the ploy worked well as they camped on the Madibaz's tryline.
Right-wing Ryan Nell made the effort good when he ran in to score twice, once at either corner flag, and Combrinck converted splendidly once from the touchline after 16 minutes of second-half play to make it 35-10 to the hosts.
Again the Madibaz regrouped and managed to put pressure on the Maties, who battled to keep their defence intact, for almost the rest of the remaining play.
The Maties staged two counter-attacks in quick succession in the final six minutes but failed to advance their score as their finishing let them down.
And just when it looked like the match would close at 35-10, play suddenly came alive to the extent that in the space of the final four minutes - the Madibas scored a try, after which the Maties ran in two more converted tries as the scoreboard leapfrogged from 35-10 to 49-17, seconds before the final whistle sounded.
For FNB Maties:
Tries: Visagie 2, Stevens, Combrinck, Nell 2, Hanekom
Cons: Stevens, Combrinck, Buys 2
Pens: Stevens 2
For FNB NMMU:
Tries: Fourie, Ramashala
Cons: Kretzmann, Rick
Maties: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Tythan Adams, 10 André Kemp, 9 Donald Stevens, 8 Meyer Swanepoel, 7 Reuben Johannes, 6 Helmut Lehman, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Callie Visagie (captain), 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Gareth Light, 17 Suan Havenga, 18 Andrew Prior, 19 Tertius Daniller, 20 Gideon Strydom, 21 Jody Rose, 22 Jarryd Buys, 23 Buhle Mxunyelwa.
NMMU: 15 Vuyolwethu Mazaka, 14 Juan du Preez, 13 Wade Roos, 12 Hlangoluhle Nodongwe, 11 Makholokoe Ramashala, 10 Bradley Kretzmann, 9 Marlin Ruiters, 8 Jaco Swanepoel (captain), 7 Philip Hanekom, 6 Ferdinand Gerber, 5 André Goosen, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Andile Mrwebi.
Replacements: 16 Lumka Mbane, 17 Dexter Seanancy, 18 Maurice Rudman, 19 Benjamin Bruckman, 20 Shannon Rick, 21 Marius Muller, 22 Jeffrey Taljaard, 23 Musa Tukela.
Referee: Dilbert November