Potgieter rocks as he leads Impi in thrilling 39-38 Varsity Shield win over Bloem campus side

2011-02-23 00:00

AS in last week’s 22-16 win over University of Fort Hare Blues, it was UKZN Impi’s Jaco Potgieter who piloted the team home in their thrilling 39-38 Varsity Shield victory against Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein on Monday night.

Potgieter slotted a 50-metre penalty in the final 30 seconds after the previously unbeaten CUT had fought back from a 27-17 deficit at the changeover to lead 38-36 through a converted try in the last minutes of a pulsating game, in which fortunes swung from end to end.

Potgieter, who was once again voted the Player that Rocks and retains the pink shorts, had switched to right wing for this match after excelling at fullback against Fort Hare. The Midlands Rugby Academy graduate scored a try and added six penalty goals and three conversions for a points haul of 29.

“It was a rollercoaster game. We started well and matched them try for try, managing to stay ahead,” Impi head coach Beans Bateman told The Witness yesterday.

“We’d edge ahead and they’d come back at us, it was a real ding-dong affair.

“The team showed amazing spirit and guts and their determination to win was incredible. Although they scored four tries our defence was still good. Their forwards are a very good unit and the guys put in a lot of effort to stop them.”

Bateman added that the CUT backs ran hard and their scrumhalf was a classy player, but UKZN deserved the win as they controlled lengthy passages of play and, in attacking the breakdown, punished the Free Staters for their errors.

Apart from Potgieter’s performance, the coach singled out flankers Lwazi Ncgungama and Leon Stevens for special mention, as well as the backline.

The Bloemfontein boys outscored the Impi four tries to three and grabbed another bonus point for finishing within seven to stay top of the log. UKZN are nine points off the pace, but the second round begins on Monday at 7 pm when the men from KZN meet University of Western Cape at Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road. This will be a much-anticipated encounter after hooker and captain Just Meanwell’s side had gone down 33-9 to the Cape lads in their opening match.

UWC were upstaged by Fort Hare on Monday and will be determined to unsettle the Impi.

As happened in beating Fort Hare, where they led 22-3 at the break, the Impi faced a massive second-half onslaught from CUT, but had done enough in the first half to stay the distance.

The other Impi touchdowns were courtesy of loosehead prop Kurt Schonert and scrumhalf Zander Engelbrecht. CUT’s tries were scored by flank Jean Cook, centre Leon Pretorius, fullback Nhlanganiso Sibanda and winger Alec Mhlanga. Flyhalf Jannie Myburgh kicked three conversions and four penalties.

LOGS Varsity Shield: CUT 17 pts; Wits 14; Impi 8; Western Cape 6; Fort Hare 5.

Varsity Cup: UCT 14 pts; UJ 13; Maties 11; Tuks 11; Shimlas 5; TUT 5; NMMU 1; Pukke 0.

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