CUT Ixias recorded their historic first in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International on Monday evening. The Ixias put in a gutsy performance to narrowly beat the visiting UCT Ikey Tigers in a wet Bloemfontein, by 10-9. At the half time break, Ikeys led by 9-3.
Rain started falling during the warm-up session, but stopped during the kick-off. However, the rain kept returning throughout the match, ensuring that both teams were hampered by the tricky bounce of the wet ball and slippery surface underfoot. The Ixias showed their intent from the kickoff, getting to within 10 metres of the Hooped Shirts’ try line, but scoring eluded the Blue Bombers from Bloem.
As predicted, it was a “battle of Bloem” indeed. Both teams tried their utmost to play positive, attacking rugby, although the unsuitable playing conditions did not reward their efforts, mostly. UCT opened the scoring in the 14th minute when centre Hendrik Lategan broke through the Ixias’ defence and scored a seven-point try, converted by flyhalf Rob Anderson. This score would turn out to be the only score for UCT in this match.
In the 25th minute CUT flyhalf Darron Baron slotted home a long range penalty kick, reducing UCT’s lead to just six points. Baron missed two long-range penalty kicks in the first half. In the second half CUT Ixias started playing with more confidence, as if they realised that they could, in fact, surprise the visitors on the wet pitch.
Both teams tried running the ball at every occasion, but the wet ball seemed to have a mind of its own. In the 43rd minute CUT launched a hard attack into the UCT “red zone” and centre Clinton Toua ran onto a pass at speed, and at an excellent angle, scoring the winning try near the posts. Baron converted and the home side were ahead by a solitary point (10-9).
Although Baron missed yet another penalty in the 69th minute, CUT took the Tigers by the throat in the final 10 minutes, launching one probing attack after another on the Tiger’s goal line. The visitors defence held, though. Lock Ryno Nel played his heart out for the Ixias, earning him the Player that Rocks award.
Hooker Theuns Truter, loose forwards Jasper Wiese and Vincent Maruping certainly caught the eye several times. For the UCT Tigers, centre Hendrik Lategan played like a man possessed. He never gave up trying, not in defence, nor on attack.
Photo credit: Frikkie Kapp /SASPA