FNB Maties bounced back from a disappointing start to the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International to beat FNB NWU-Pukke 33-21 in Potchefstroom.
It was the first win of the competition for the three-time champions, following defeats to FNB NMMU and FNB UCT, whilst it was the first defeat of the season for NWU-Pukke who notched a full house of ten log points from their first two games.
Maties took control of the game early on and raced out to a 21-0 half-time lead, before weathering a NWU-Pukke comeback at the start of the second half and going on to secure the bonus point.
The visitors made a great start to the game with flank Beyers de Villiers crossing the whitewash after breaking from a maul after just four minutes to hand his team the early initiative.
That was followed up soon afterwards by a try from wily centre Johnny Kôtze which put Maties firmly in the driving seat with a 13-0 lead.
The home side needed a response and they launched an extended period of pressure in Maties territory as they looked to hit back, but they could not find a way through the committed defence.
The Stellenbosch side showed great character to soak up the fierce onslaught from their hosts, and they were rewarded just before the half-time break when flyhalf Robert du Preez scored a try which he converted himself.
The home side made a determined start to the second half, and it paid off when big wing Luther Obi burst over after a powerful scrum to reduce Maties’ lead to 21-5.
NWU-Pukke scored another through flank HP Swart which was converted by Adriaan Engelbrecht, but Maties hit back through Louis Jordaan which sealed the bonus point for the visitors.
The crowd got right behind NWU-Pukke as they looked to fight their way back into contention in the dying stages, and it was replacement scrumhalf Dillon Smit who got over for a late try to give his side a glimpse of hope.
However, two late penalties from the boot of Du Preez ended any thoughts of a comeback victory as Maties held on for a deserved 33-21 victory.
For FNB NWU-Pukke:
Tries: Obi, Swart, Smit
Cons: Engelbrecht 2
For FNB Maties:
Tries: De Villiers, Kôtze, Du Preez, Jordaan
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pens: Du Preez 2
FNB NWU-Pukke: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Edmar Marais, 13 Sylvain Mahuza, 12 Adriaan Engelbrecht, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Tiaan Dorfling (captain), 8 Rhyk Welgemoed, 7 Henro-Pierre Swart, 6 Robey Labuschagne, 5 Francois Robbertse, 4 Peet van der Walt, 3 Elardus Venter, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Johan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Vermaak, 17 Mashudu Malefa, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Jaco Buys, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Johan Deysel, 22 Lucian Cupido, 23 Lhlanhla Ngoama.
FNB Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Johnny Kôtze, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Caleb Smith, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Tertius Daniller (captain), 7 Helmut Lehmann, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Nicol Heyns, 2 Freddie Kirsten, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Charl de Villiers, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Renier Ehlers, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Louis Nel, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Louis Jordaan, 23 Liam Hendricks.
Referees: Christie du Preez, Lesego Legoete