Defending Varsity Cup champions Shimlas converted a penalty with just a minute to play as they defeated local rivals CUT 10-9 at the FNB Stadium on Monday 14 March. The stage couldn’t have been bigger. Shimlas and CUT were to be the two Varsity Cup teams to make history as they stepped out onto the iconic Soccer City turf on Monday afternoon.
The ‘Battle of Bloemfontein’ had a different feel to it leading up to kickoff, but as soon as the whistle blew to sound the start of the match, it had all the components of a fierce derby match. From the outset, players went into tackles hard and there were a few scuffs off the ball. Early pressure by CUT resulted in a penalty and Meyer Van Tonder hit the left upright.
CUT had the upper hand for most of the first half and were unlucky not to convert a few more chances. They did manage to convert a penalty as Van Tonder put his side in the lead, converting his second penalty attempt. At the strategy break, after 20 minutes, the score remained 3-0 to CUT.
Brilliant play by Shimlas set their star winger, Masolwa Mafuma through, as an inside pass helped him break the line and run through for a try between the sticks. Shimlas took the lead 7-3. It wasn’t long before Van Tonder successfully converted another penalty from 38 metres out to bring it to 7-6 going into the break.
An injury to Shimlas’ Musa Mahlasela a minute into the second half stopped play, as the medics carefully stretchered him off. CUT were unlucky not to lead when Van Tonder narrowly missed two penalty attempts, one of those hitting both uprights before falling safely into the hands of Shimlas’ Marco Mason. It took some time, but in the 60th minute, Shimlas began asserting their dominance.
Their forwards kept the territorial advantage in their favour in a match that was all about the physicality up front. But in the 76th minute, CUT scored a penalty to take the lead for the first time in the match, Shimlas 7-9 CUT. It would be agony for CUT as only a minute later Shimlas’ Marco Mason converted a long range penalty to steal the lead back, leading 10-9.
CUT pushed play up to Shimlas’ 22 after the hooter, but a knock it on and it was all over. Shimlas maintain their unbeaten run, defeating CUT 10-9 in a tightly-contested match.
Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze / SASPA