FNB UJ made history in Stellenbosch on Monday night when they beat FNB Maties 39-19 to finish on top of the log and knock Maties out of the competition for the first time ever.
How the mighty are fallen in the midst of battle!
The mighty Maties, who for years and years have dominated student rugby in South Africa, came crashing to ground for the second time in two weeks and have crashed out of the Varsity Cup which they seemed to have made their own.
UJ thoroughly deserved the win. They did the basics much better - like scrumming, catching and passing, defensive organisation, contesting after the tackle and the line-outs. They were better than the Maties at all those aspects. And when the Maties dominated possession and territory in the second half, the Johannesburg side kept them out and then scored their own points. They won the second half 24-12.
In fact the winning margin could have been much bigger had Theuns Kotze's goalkicking not been way off target. Eventually André Smith took over and was unerring.
André Smith's immediate opponent was André Kemp - both of them Old Boys of Paarl Gim.
It was a holiday for students but still there were more than 10,000 people in the Danie Craven Stadium at the foot of handsome mountains. It was a balmy evening and lots of fun promised. But with some seven minutes to go much of that crowd had trudged with purpose and downcast heads out of the ground. This was not what Maties were used to or found acceptable.
The difference between the Maties side that outplayed the Ikeys and the sides outplayed by first the Tukkies and then UJ was as wide as Table Bay. You felt for noble Matie Springboks, proudly in their colours, who saw this happen - Hempies du Toit, Rob Louw, Robbie Blair, Divan Serfontein and Hennie Bekker all in a row, all men from the days when Maties won. This time they lost 39-19. It must be several records.
If you believe in the basic importance of the scrum, the writing was on the wall at the very first scrum when UJ destroyed the Maties and enjoyed doing so. Maties never got their heads up after that.
UJ mauled and then went right. A pass seemed to have gone astray but Kotze tidied it up and sent Lolo Waka on an overlap made easier because Tythan Adams came inside. Waka, over from the left wing, sped down the tight, left fullback Ruan Combrinck standing as he cut inside and raced over for a try well in from touch. 5-0 after 5 minutes.
UJ nearly scored against when Wendal Wehr broke clean through the centres in his own half. Combrinck just managed to claw him down a metre or two from the line. Stellenbosch had a five-metre scrum but UJ wheeled it to get a five-metre scrum of their own. They did a simple 8/9 and Paige stepped inside Combrinck to score. 10-0 after 24 minutes.
Kemp broke and drove into the UJ 22 but he lost the ball forward in the tackle. UJ were grateful and set off with the gift, their backs all in perfect formation. Again Waka had an overlap, this time on the left, and he sped past diving Stevens and then played inside to Kotze who gave to Luan Steenkamp, cutting back and racing over the 22 and on to score.
That made it 15-0 after 29 minutes... There was at this stage no doubt who was going to win.
Four penalties in quick succession gave the Maties a chance to attack and hooker Gareth Light was over but held up. They had a line-out, put both centres into the line-out and mauled and bashed and still UJ had the better of them till the Maties went wide and Kemp chipped into in-goal where Stokkies Hanekom won the race to the ball. 15-7.
That half-time score looked so fake because UJ were streets better.
Maties started the second half with greater zest. Stevens started a counter-attack, the centres did well and the Maties went through phases till they had a two-man overlap on the left which Light nearly nullified by trying to score himself but eventually lock gave to lock and Kloppers scored in the corner. 15-12 after 44 minutes.
The fizz soon popped,, the zest permanently dissipated. UJ got the ball and spun it left when the Matie centres came up out of line and were easily beaten. Waka raced down the left, beating three - Combrinck on the inside again, and scored. Smith took over the kicking. 22-12 and a bonus point.
UJ came back. Smith grubbered, Combrinck could not control it and Wehr raced for the line. This time he got over but was held up. UJ stayed on the attack till Smith snapped over a drop from close range. 25-12 after 55 minutes.
Kemp broke, the Maties had a five-metre line-out and still they could not score. Kemp grubbered into in-goal and still they did not score as Aubrey McDonald got tot he ball first. Maties had a five-metre scrum and still the UJ defence did not yield.
Maties stayed attacking till Kemp threw a long pass to Light, who was in the centre berth, which was a mistake. Light passed a long pass - to McDonald who intercepted and ran a joyous 63 metres to score at the posts .32-12, and people went home.
Stellenbosch replacement Nian Berg countered, Hanekom carried it on and Louis Jordaan sped through to score. (Jordaan was in the original side but then dropped to the bench for no obviously good reason.) Stevens hurried the conversion. 32-19. The Maties could still get a bonus point and get into the semis.
This proved purely a theory. From the kick-off Kemp chipped and the UJ spent the rest of the match on the Maties' line. They nearly scored when Smith kicked a high diagonal to the right and Divan van Zyl leapt spectacularly to catch the ball and drop to earth but Adams prevented the TMO from advising that a try had been scored. But UJ had a five-metre scrum with a minute to play, just time for big Alfred Ries to force his way over for a try.
A glorious score for UJ, a dismal score for Maties.
The man who won pink - the Player that Rocks, a.k.a the Man of the Match - was Wendal Wehr who won a watch, a pink cheque for R1,000, a pink cap and 50 pink roses for his girlfriend.
For FNB UJ:
Tries: Waka 2, Paige, Steenkamp, Ries, McDonald
Cons: Smith 3
For FNB Maties:
Tries: Hanekom, Kloppers, Jordaan
Cons: Stevens 2
Maties: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Tythan Adams, 10 André Kemp, 9 Donald Stevens, 8 Meyer Swanepoel, 7 Andrew Prior, 6 Reuben Johannes, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Reniel Hugo, 3 Buhle Mxunyelwa, 2 Gareth Light, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Johannes Gericke, 17 Suan Havenga, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Helmut Lehman, 20 James Alexander, 21 Louis Jordaan, 22 Jarryd Buys, 23 Nian Berg.
UJ: 15 Theuns Kotze, 14 Aubrey McDonald, 13 Justin St. Jerry, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Lolo Waka, 10 André Smith, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Cameron Peverett, 7 Justin Wheeler (captain), 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Marnus van Huyssteen, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 François du Toit, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Alfred Ries, 17 Ollie Terblanche, 18 Shane Kirkwood, 19 Johan van Deventer, 20 Jacques Pretorius, 21 Wigan Pekeur, 22 Divan van Zyl, 23 Anthony Gallacher.
Referee: Archie Sehlako
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Marius van der Westhuizen
TMO: JC Fortuin
By Paul Dobson (rugby365.com)