Sharp, Shimlas!

2015-04-30 16:54
CHAMPIONS: The Shimlas, the University of the Free State’s rugby team, celebrate after defeating the North-West University’s Pukke 63-33 in the Varsity Cup final at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein.        
Conrad Bornman

CHAMPIONS: The Shimlas, the University of the Free State’s rugby team, celebrate after defeating the North-West University’s Pukke 63-33 in the Varsity Cup final at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein. Photo: Conrad Bornman

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THE Shimlas beat the Pukke 63-33 to win their first FNB Varsity Cup at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein on Monday (13/04).

The team of the University of the Free State (UFS) outscored its old rivals from Potchefstroom by nine tries to four in a breathtaking match to end the season unbeaten and hand the Pukke of the North-West University (NWU) a second consecutive final defeat in front of a capacity crowd.

The visitors made a determined start to the match and drove the Shimlas deep into their own territory, where they forced a penalty which was slotted by Rhyno Smith. However, they were reduced to 14 men shortly afterwards when flank Marno Redelinghuys was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. The home side immediately took advantage, with lock Johan van der Hoogt barging over for the opening try, which put them 8-2 up once converted by fly half Niel Marais.

They did not have that lead for long though, as Marais’s clearance from the restart was charged down by Pukke scrum half Malherbe Swart, who scored under the poles. The Potchefstroom students added a second try straight away, with inside centre Johan Deysel running a great line off a line-out in his team’s own half to score and stretch their lead to 18-8.

The Shimlas hit back just after the first strategy break, with big no. 8 Niell Jordaan crashing over from a driving maul, but the visitors responded with another Smith penalty which took their lead to 20-13.

The drama continued as Pukke captain Jeandre Rudolph was sent to the sin bin on the half-hour mark for repeated breakdown infringements and the home side duly capitalised with wing Maphutha Dolo stepping through a gap for a try. They then came up with a counter-attack from their own half, sparked by Vuyani Maqina who found Marais on the inside – the fly half produced a sensational offload to put flying flank Daniel Maartens away for a try, putting them 26-20 ahead at half-time.

The hosts scored their fifth try just after the break, with Marais central once again as he collected a partially charged kick and got the ball away to Dolo who released to outside centre Nico Lee who surged over the whitewash. At 34-20 down the Pukke’s forwards produced the perfect response with Rudolph scoring a pushover try from a dominant attacking scrum.

The seesaw battle continued as Shimlas hit back with a second try from Nico Lee, who took a well-timed pass from Marais at pace to burst through and score under the poles.

That left the Pukke with a huge task to finish in the last 20 minutes. But tries from Marais, Dolo and Maartens piled more misery on them and although the visitors had the last say with a late try from Rowayne Beukman, the hosts claimed an emphatic victory

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