Maties get winning start, UCT claim WC bragging rights in Varsity Cup opener

Next up for the men form Stellenbosch is a trip to the Green Mile and a clash with UCT, while Wits host CUT.

Picture: VarsityCupSA/Instagram

JOHANNESBURG - The opening round the 2019 Varsity Cup saw wins for the likes of UCT, Tuks and Maties in an entertaining afternoon of rugby around the country.

Defending champions, Maties, got their campaign underway against last season’s surprise package Wits at a packed Danie Craven Stadium.

The visitors stunned the passionate home crowd early when Wits scrumhalf Krappies van den Berg opened the scoring. Fullback Christian Humphries added the extras and Maties had to respond quickly. That’s exactly what they did when hooker HJ Luus dotted down before Jordan Chait drew them level with his first kick of the match.

The rest of the first half would follow a similar pattern with neither side able to grab full control of the game as the men from Johannesburg trailed 17-12 at the break.

The maroon army kicked into gear in the second stanza with Luus doubling his tally and Chait putting in a perfect kicking display to see the home side race into a 30-12 lead despite a dogged defensive effort from the visitors.

CJ Conradie scored a consolation try for Wits, before Chait kicked a final penalty to make the score 33-17 at the final whistle.

Next up for the men from Stellenbosch is a trip to the Green Mile and a clash with UCT, while Wits host CUT.

Speaking of UCT, they were involved in a back and forth duel with their Western Cape rivals and Varsity Cup newcomers, UWC.

The Ikeys Tigers would eventually run out 32-24 winners, but the game was not without its share of nerves for either team.

The first half was a tight encounter, with both sides trying to get a foothold in the game.

Stef de Gouveia would prove to be the difference in the first 40 – crossing the whitewash in the third minute of added time to give the home side a 14-7 lead at half time.

UCT skipper Nama Xaba was forced off the field early in the second half due to an ankle injury. The visitors took full advantage as the combination of Trystan Leyds and Lyle Hendricks restored parity.

UWC took the lead for the first time in the 63rd minute before UCT's Michael Brink scored a 7-point try in the dying moments to secure a hard-fought and nerve-racking win.

UP Tuks, meanwhile, will head into their next game against UJ full of confidence after a convincing 23-6 win over CUT while UJ got off to a less than ideal start, losing 23-8 at home to NWU.