Impi fullback steals the show in Blues clash

2011-02-16 00:00

UNIVERSITY of KZN Impi fullback Jaco Potgieter was the star of the show in the home side’s 22-16 Varsity Shield victory over the University of Fort Hare Blues, at the Peter Booysen Sports Park in Pietermaritzburg on Monday night.

Potgieter’s unerring boot slotted five penalty goals from all corners of the ground and added a conversion for a 17-point harvest in the first half to go with nippy flanker Lwazi Ncgungama’s blind-side try.

The Impi led 22-3 at the change-over before withstanding a concerted second-half onslaught from the willing Hares, who hail from the town called Alice.

The Eastern Cape lads only had a 25-metre penalty from flyhalf Qondani Katywa to show for their considerable first-half efforts before the pivot added another soon after the break.

Pacy fullback Ayanda Mateisi and big replacement winger Vuo Mboto each added a left-corner touchdown to the Blues’s score.

The Blues controlled much of the possession in a stop-start match in which the referee was zealous on any perceived transgressions of the law.

The constant whistle was not helped by the error-ridden rugby, in which both teams were guilty of poor handling skills and errant kicking.

The Impi were exceptionally brave in defence, repelling numerous Blues sorties with superb hits, while in Potgieter they had the man of the match — imaginatively described as the “Player that Rocks” in this well-conceived university competition.

“The win was important with regards to our goal of establishing a winning culture,” Impi head coach Beans Bateman said yesterday. “We knew they would constantly attack and our defensive effort was pleasing.”

While UKZN enjoyed their first win from three starts, one try in three games is a concern. “We are desperately trying to create more try-scoring opportunities and perhaps it has been a wrong decision here or there that has negated our chances in that regard,” said Bateman.

While he was measured in assessing his own performance, Potgieter said that if they keep improving, the Impi are still in with a shot at Shield honours.

“It was solid enough; there are one or two things to work on, and it should get better as the season progresses, but then there’s always things to work on,” the last line of defence said.

Bateman and his team are up against universities and rugby unions who are leaving no stone unturned in attracting players.

The perceived marketing benefits for those educational institutions, as well as the promotion of the sport in those regions and provinces, are being maximised to the full.

Nonetheless, the coach is happy with his side’s learning curve and the new experiences this competition offers. “It’s a three-year process for us, a case of building our depth before we will be anywhere near ready for the Varsity Cup.”

One thing is certain, with the Impi players set to play for PMB Varsity in the KZN Premier Division, this will be the best-prepared “Whites” squad in history. With the club celebrating its centenary year, it’s nice timing.

Impi meet the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein on Monday next week.

Other results – Varsity Cup: North West (Pukke) 8 Cape Town (Ikeys) 36; Pretoria (Tuks) 34 Tshwane University of Technology (Pretoria) 36; Johannesburg (UJ) 21 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan (PE) 16; Free State (Shimlas) 21 Stellenbosch (Maties) 15. Varsity Shield: Wits 36 Central University of Technology (Bloemfontein) 42.

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