Impi begin Varsity Shield with scrappy win

2015-02-03 00:00

UKZN Impi got their Varsity Shield campaign off to a winning start, beating the University of Western Cape (UWC) 16-5 in Cape Town last night.

Although they may have won the match, Impi have a lot of work to do in cutting out errors.

The nerves may have been high in the season opener, but both sides made far too many errors in the scrappy affair in Bellville.

The first 20 minutes seemed to set the poor standard, as handling errors plagued both sides.

While the Impi looked more structured, they could not put together more than a few phases before losing the ball.

UWC had the best chance to score early on from a lineout on the Impi line but a knock-on prevented them from gaining any momentum — setting the tone of the match.

There was a period of open play after both sides missed touch and UWC’s attacking flair showed with a good line break from outside centre Minenhle Mthethwa. Luckily the KZN side scrambled on defence to deny the hosts a scoring chance around the 10-minute mark.

Play seesawed again as handling errors made for frustrating viewing. UWC had a golden opportunity to kick at goal but opted for the line. But hooker Lifa Ghana couldn’t find his mark and another scoring opportunity went begging.

Impi then attacked from the ensuing scrum and made a good break from deep in their 22, but flyhalf Innocent Radebe couldn’t hold the pass and another attack ended unceremoniously.

Just before the 20-minute strategy break, UKZN setup a five-metre lineout and tried to maul it forward. UWC sacked their effort and another dropped pass ended that attack.

Immediately after the break UWC made an excellent run after a tight-head scrum. Impi managed to get back on defence and another UWC knock-on squandered their best opportunity of the half.

Impi then started to hit their straps, putting together phases five minutes after the break. Play then changed hands during the next 10 minutes.

After a kicking for the line and securing their throw in, Impi inside centre Marius Louw was brought down just before the line after a clean snipe through the UWC defence. But he was penalised for a double-movement after he was tackled.

He made up for it just moments later, picking up yet another dropped ball from UWC to force his way over the line for the first try of the Varsity Shield. Impi flyhalf Innocent Radebe converted to make it 8-0 to the visitors at the half-hour mark.

The last 10 minutes of the half saw both sides fight for field position but once again poor handling and turnovers left Impi in the lead at half time.

Impi looked more settled after the break and had the lion’s share of the ball. Radebe was exciting on attack and produced a few sniping runs putting his side on the front foot.

But more knock-ons put a damper on proceedings as both teams moved up and down the park for the next 10 minutes.

Then a moment of magic from Radebe gave the Impi their second try. Running from depth around the blindside of a ruck, he cut through the UWC line to dot down, extending the visitors lead to 16-0 with 25 minutes left to play.

UWC seemed incensed after conceding the second try, and struck from the kickoff. Quick hands from a lineout saw the ball shift to wing Gavian Cloete, who crashed over for an unconverted try making it 16-5.

The 60 minute break came and went without further developments. While UKZN made considerably less mistakes, UWC’s core skills continued to let them down.

The KZN outfit sealed a valuable four points, while denying the hosts a bonus point.


UKZN Impi 16 (8)

Tries: Marius Louw, Innocent Radebe; Conversions: Innocent Radebe (2)

UWC: 5 (0)

Tries: Gavian Cloete.

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