Maties, NWU win comfortably to reach Varsity Cup final

NWU take on Maties in the final of the Varsity Cup on 16 April.

Picture: Supplied

Under rainy skies, NWU and UJ battled for a spot in the Varsity Cup final at the Fanie du Toit Stadium. The Johannesburg outfit scored two early seven-point tries to put the visitors 18-0 up in the opening five minutes; making for one of the most exciting starts to a Varsity Cup match this season, with Kobus Engelbrecht and Odwa Unkunjana crossing the whitewash for UJ.

Six minutes later, NWU bounced back with a converted try in the eleventh minute, with Tapiwa Mafura getting the try for Pukke. Four minutes later, Mafura scored under the sticks to narrow the gap to four points as the first 15 minutes yielded 32 points between the teams.

A try from Schalk Hugo put the hosts ahead after he converted his own seven-pointer, putting the hosts 23-21 ahead after half an hour of play.

NWU went into the break 30-24 ahead following a penalty for UJ and a try from the home team’s Chriswell September.

UJ fell further behind, with NWU scoring for NWU. UJ managed to pull themselves back into the tie with Jan-Louis La Grange scoring a try.

The visitors still trailed 37-31.

That was the last time UJ would get onto the scoreboard as NWU scored three unanswered tries courtesy of Louis van der Westhuizen, Tapiwa Mafura and Nkosana Mbatha.

UJ put on a strong fight, but was not enough to overcome the team from the North West and 60-31 is how it ended.

Over in Stellenbosch, the undefeated Maties hosted surprise package Wits for a spot in the final. The teams met earlier in the season, with Wits scoring a late seven-point try to draw the game 30-30.

Maties would have wanted an improved defensive performance compared to the game earlier in the season, and that is exactly what had come their way. Maties got off to the best start they could have been hoping for, knocking the wind out of Wits’ sails by scoring a try in the first minute. Prop Neethling Fouche scoring the try. Chris Smith made no mistake with the conversion.

Johan van Niekerk dotted down again for the hosts five minutes later after a rolling maul. A panic-stricken Wits called for a Power Play and after an aimless kick, and subsequent counter-attack, the hosts scored via Chris Smith. Wits behind 21-0.

Frustration built for Wits which resulted in two of their players being sent to the sin bin ten minutes apart. Wits got onto the scoreboard via a converted try from Kasede Kapepula.

However, Maties seemed to go into the break with a foot already in the final, leading 40-9.

Wits got the first try of the second half following brilliant back-line play. David Vary latched onto a perfectly executed kick to dot down. Chris Humphries converting what would be the final points for the visitors.

Duncan Saal and Munier Hartzenberg added to the scoreboard to leave Wits well beaten 65-18 in a game where Maties scored ten tries to Wits’ two.

NWU take on Maties in the final of the Varsity Cup on 16 April.