FNB Shimlas produced a controlled performance to secure a 20-15 Varsity Cup victory over the dangerous FNB Tuks in Bloemfontein on Monday night.
It was party time at Shimla Park - another rugby party, called the Varsity Cup. There is a fun side to the party with lots of ceremonies. There is also a deadly serious side to the party. The serious side is on the field where winning is clearly important.
Oh, there were dancing girls and fans who rocked, a stylish singing of the national anthem by the Veritas Ser Group and when it was over there were more fun presents. But between the anthem and the presents there was the serious matter of the match between two sides close on the log, both eager to get into fourth place, at least, and a place in the play-offs.
It started looking as if it was Tukkies' night. Then it seemed that Shimlas owned the night. Then Tukkies came back and claimed a bonus point in the last minute - and it could have been better for them.
Down 20-5 with 16 minutes to play the Tukkies broke out. The Shimlas were on the attack when their hands let them down near the Tukkies' 22. Dabeon Draghoender booted the loose ball downfield and Dirk Dippenaar, also a replacement, booted it again and it rolled into the Shimlas' in-goal as Dippenaar and Cameron Jacobs raced after the ball. Jacobs got a narrow lead when Dippenaar shove him in the back. Jacobs stumbled beyond the ball but Dippenaar fell on it near the posts.
The referee consulted the television match official, experienced Shaun Veldsman and Veldsman told the referee about the shove. No try - instead a penalty for Shimlas. It was an important moment in the match.
It must have been a great disappointment to the Pretoria visitors and yet it seemed to inspire them to greater efforts.
Tukkies started the match like winners when, from a scrum, their captain Wesley Dunlop took a drift pass and broke clean through. He cut back inside, ran over fullback Shaun Davids and the two defenders clinging to him scored a try. He missed the easy conversion but Tukkies were 5-0 ahead after 7 minutes and looking promising.
But the Shimlas got into the game with some good running by Davids and centre Charl Weideman. Tukkies did little but tackle - and conceded penalties. Davids goaled two of them to give the home side a 6-5 lead after 24 minutes, and then it seemed that the Shimlas would cut loose.
They raced down the left from well inside their own 22 as Davids again made the running. Davids passed inside to flank Hanno Pieterse who scored. Davids converted from far out.
Just before half-time the Shimlas attacked but Tukkies got the ball till a turnover gave it back to Shimlas who bashed on the left and then went wide where Weideman had an easy run-in for a try at the posts.
That made the score 20-5 at half-time. The Shimlas did not add a single point in the 40 minutes of the second half, which they largely dominated.
Then came the dropped ball, the fly-kicking and the shove in the back. This seemed to inspire the Tukkies. They suddenly jerked themselves alive to possibilities.
Hayden Groepes raced down the left but George Whitehead tackled him bravely. The Shimlas had a defensive line-out but were free-kicked when their hooker balked. They tapped the free-kick and wen wide for fullback Jurgen Visser to score. Dunlop converted. 20-12 with 14 minutes to play.
Tukkies attacked but overeagerness got in the way and with time up they were just inside their own half when the referee penalised the Shimlas. It was in front of the posts. Visser took the kick at goal, for three points would give them a bonus point for losing by fewer than eight. His kick was true. It did not look like missing and the final whistle went.
There were ceremonies. The winning captain was allowed to nominate a player for a week's worth of hired car and he decided on Franna du Toit. Then there was the choice of the Player that Rocks, a.k.a the Man of the Match. The lot fell on cheerful Shaun Davids who received a pink cap and a pair of pink shorts to wear at the next match and a posh watch and R1,500 and 50 pink roses for the lady of his choice.
Lots of pink, but then this year the Varsity Cup is raising awareness (and some money) to combat women abuse.
Tries: Pieterse, Weideman
Cons: Davids 2
Pens: Davids 2
Tries: Dunlop, Visser
Shimlas: 15 Shaun Davids, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Zandre de Bruin, 12 Charl Weideman, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Jaco Colyn, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Willie Britz (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagnè, 6 Hanno Pieterse, 5 Joubert Horn, 4 Wilken Heyns, 3 Ian Potgieter, 2 JC van Wyk, 1 John-Henry Harris.
Replacements: 16 Martin van der Heever, 17 Johan van Niekerk, 18 Frederick Ngoza, 19 Etienne Terblanche, 20 George Whitehead, 21 Franna du Toit, 22 Divandre Strydom, 23 Henry van Niekerk.
Tuks: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Arno van Zyl, 12 Wesley Dunlop (captain), 11 Hayden Groepes, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Warwick Tecklenberg, 5 Nqubeko Zulu, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Chris Crous, 17 Stephanus Pretorius, 18 Franco Mostert, 19 Jacques Verwey, 20 Clayton Stewart, 21 Dabeon Draghoender, 22 Dirk Dippenaar, 23 Juan Schoeman.
Referee: Matt Kemp
Assistant referees: Gert Stander, Martin Lekhanje
TMO: Shaun Veldsman