A hat-trick by Maties winger, Duncan Saal, was enough for the Stellenbosch-based side to defeat Tuks at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday evening. Maties walked away with a comfortable 29-16 win to remain on top of the log in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International. Despite the home side, Maties, dominating possession and territory early on, it was Tuks who opened the scoring with a nine-point try against the run of play. A turnover on Tuks’ own tryline gave the visitors an opportunity, which they seized thanks to a lucky bounce after the ball was kicked ahead.
Maties, not to be outdone, responded in style with a nine-pointer of their own five minutes later. It was Saal who would score thanks to some great foot work from his fullback. After a period of poor handling by both sides and the scores locked at nine apiece, it was the winger who scored his second in the 31st minute after the speedster went over in the corner.
It was a great team effort that was created by some impressive offloading. Saal’s two tries ensured Maties led, 20-9, at the break. uks started the second half with some intent, carrying the ball strongly to be justly rewarded for their efforts when hooker, Corniel Els, bashed over in the corner in just the 42nd minute. Joshua Stander converted the try to make it a four-point ball game with virtually a whole half to play.
Maties refused to be rattled by the visitors, who continued to dominate possession in the second half. Tuks seized the opportunity to showcase their defence, holding firm against several attacks. However, Saal completed his hat-trick just nine minutes from time, when he collected a perfectly-weighted crosskick to run in under the post for a seven-pointer.
The final score would be enough for Maties to hang on to their lead – completing their third straight win in the process. In contrast, Tuks remained winless after three rounds, keeping them rooted at the bottom of the table. The result means next week’s encounter between Maties and UJ in Johannesburg will be between two of the three unbeaten sides in the competition.
Maties will be hoping Saal can carry his try-finishing skills into that crucial match. That match kicks-off at 18:30.
Tries: Saal (3)
Conversions: Stapelberg (2)
Tries: Keanan Van Wyk, Corniel Els
Conversions: Joshua Stander
Maties team: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Paul Streicher, 12 Jan Venter, 11 Edwill Van Der Merwe, 10 Theo Stapelberg, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Jacobus Van Dyk, 7 Janco Venter, 6 Beyers De Villiers(C), 5 Wilhelm Van Der Sluys, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Marko Janse Van Rensburg, 1 Neil Oelofse
Replacements: 16 Craig Corbett, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Justin Moberly, 19 Conal Brown, 20 Geor Malan, 21 Brandon Nell, 22 Christopher Smith, 23 Jacobus Van Der Merwe
Tuks team: 15 Nicolaas Britz, 14 Keanan Van Wyk, 13 Stedman-Ghee Gans, 12 Adrian Maebane, 11 Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Frederic Eksteen, 6 Ruan Steenkamp(C), 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Aston Fortuin, 3 Johan Fouche, 2 Cornelius Els, 1 Andrew beerwinkel
Replacements: 16 Jan-Frederik Enslin, 17 Stephanus Genis, 18 Pieter Jansen Van Vuuren, 19 Marco Van Staden, 20 Carlo Engelbrecht, 21 Quaid Langeveldt, 22 Oskar Calitz, 23 Justin Forwood
Photo credit: Liam Hamer-Nel/alliancephoto.com