Defending champions FNB UP-Tuks continued their unbeaten run in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International with a 26-8 victory over FNB UCT on a wind-swept Green Mile.
The hard-fought win sees UP-Tuks keep their place at the top of the standings, whilst it was a second defeat at home for the Ikeys to go with their two wins on the road so far this season.
The visitors outscored their hosts by four tries to two, to take a full house of log points whilst UCT ended empty-handed in the tough conditions.
The home side were playing with the wind in the first half and they enjoyed some early territorial ascendency as UP-Tuks were forced onto the back foot.
An attacking line-out paid off for UCT as captain Liam Slatem followed up well on a Vince Jobo drive to rip the ball off UP-Tuks tackler Ryan Nell and race over for the opening try which was converted by Dean Grant to make it 8-0.
The Cape team kept the pressure on and camped on the UP-Tuks tryline as they looked to capitalise on their early ascendency, but UP-Tuks showed good commitment on defence to hold them out.
The Pretoria side worked their way slowly upfield, taking the ball through a staggering number of phases, but they battled to make any headway in UCT’s half as the hosts kept them pegged back with some good kicking.
The Ikeys’ handling let them down a few times as they looked to make the most of the wind and UP-Tuks used the chance to soak up some phases as they tried to hold on until half-time.
UCT were desperate to make the most of the wind before having to turn around in the second half, but a number of minor errors held them back, and they were forced to defend their tryline as UP-Tuks pushed them hard at the end of the first half.
A powerful driving maul put the visitors in great position, and centre Dries Swanepoel came within inches of scoring before big loosehead prop Juan Schoeman barged his way over on the stroke of half-time to level the scores at 8-8.
The home side had it all to do playing into the wind in the second half, and they made an encouraging start as wing Lihleli Xoli made a good break, but it was not long until UP-Tuks stormed into their 22 where the ball was swung out to fullback Warrick Gelant who finished neatly in the corner.
UCT needed a response and they piled into the UP-Tuks 22 with purpose, but they could not find a way through the resolute defence of the defending champions who somehow managed to keep them out.
The Ikeys suffered another blow just after the second strategy break when a long Dean Grant pass was intercepted by UP-Tuks prop Neethling Fouche, and the ball was worked out well to Duncan Matthews who dived over for their third try to make it 18-8.
Both teams were looking for a bonus point in the final stages, and UP-Tuks were reduced to 14 men when replacement Leneve Damens was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements from his side, but it did not stop replacement hooker Arno van Wyk from barging over to secure the bonus point.
UCT claimed a late consolation when Huw Jones burst over for a try to end the game, but it was not enough to earn them any log points from the outing.
For FNB UCT:
Tries: Slatem, Jones
Cons: Grant 2
For FNB UP-Tuks:
Tries: J Schoeman, Gelant, Matthews, Van Wyk
Cons: T Schoeman 2
Yellow card: Leneve Damens (Repeated infringements, 75 mins)
FNB UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Martin Sauls, 12 Nic Holton, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Jan Uys,3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Robin Murray.
Replacements: 16 Chad Soloman, 17 Michael Kennedy, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Zakeyo Tinetenda, 20 James Alexander, 21 Huw Jones, 22 Suwilanji Chibale, 23 David Maasch.
FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel,12 Ryan Nell, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Reniel Hugo (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 19 Leneve Damens, 20 Emile Temperman, 22 Francois Tredoux, 22 Duncan Matthews, 23 Neethling Fouche.
Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Neville Heilbron