Away Teams Rule In Varsity Cup
There were three away wins in Round Two of the 2012 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International - with two dramatic victories coming in the final seconds of regulation time in Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein.
In easily the biggest upset in the five-year history of this tournament, the FNB Madibaz beat the FNB Shimlas thanks to a last-second André Goosen try in Bloemfontein, as the visitors scored two tries in the final three minutes to pull off an unlikely victory.
The Shimlas, who led 18-5 at half-time, would have been very confident heading into this Round Two encounter against a team they had never lost against before and after their first-round triumph over FNB UCT last week.
But the Madibaz showed great spirit and resolve throughout and when replacement Bradley Kretzman slotted the winning conversion from the right-hand touchline - the new points-scoring system no doubt playing into NMMU's hands here - the Men from Port Elizabeth pulled off easily the greatest Houdini act in the history of this tournament.
Speaking of Houdini acts, former champions, the FNB Maties, pulled off something of a miracle victory themselves when they also won away courtesy of a late try - against the NWU-Pukke in Potchefstroom.
With the Maties trailing by 9-12, as they did for the entire second half, replacement hooker Gareth Light rumbled over from a powerful rolling maul in the 79th minute to put his team ahead by 14-12, the first time they led in the match.
Although the try was not converted, Pukke's re-start coincided with the full-time hooter and the home side - who had scored the game's opening try in the first half through right-wing Andrew van Wyk - had to be content with a losing bonus point.
Defending champions FNB UCT, who suffered a 15-29 away defeat to FNB UJ, were unable to register their first log points of the season - going down by four tries to two at the University of Johannesburg's home ground.
UJ led 29-2 at half-time, so UCT did win the second half by 13-0, but it will be scant consolation to Kevin Foote and his coaching team who will return to Cape Town knowing they have a mountain to climb in their remaining five league fixtures.
Meanwhile, in other Round Two action, in the day's first game, visitors UP-Tuks won their Pretoria Derby against TUT by 40-0 - scoring five tries to nil, including a penalty try on the stroke of full-time.
Tuks led 8-0 at half-time and scored their four second-half tries in the final thirty minutes against a Vikings side that showed more resistance than the scoreboard would suggest. It was, however, a case of sweet revenge for Tuks who lost at home to TUT in Round Two action last season.
* In Varsity Shield action, UWC put on an impressive display in their first home game of the season, completely demolishing UKZN by 61-10 in Bellville. In Bloemfontein, defending champions CUT scored a late bonus-point try to secure a solid 34-15 win over a game Fort Hare outfit.
* In Varsity Young Guns action, Tuks' Under-20s showed no mercy to their TUT counterparts and handed their Pretoria rivals a 130-0 thrashing to make their bid for silverware clear this season. The day's other match saw Maties' juniors claim a dramatic 23-20 win over their hosts, NWU-Pukke (was it a sign of things to come, perhaps?), in their meeting in Potchefstroom.
* The first round of 2012 Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships action also took place on Monday, with a 26-24 victory for Steinhoff Bastion (UJ) over the Steinhoff Cobras (UCT). Steinhoff Mopanie (Tuks) beat Steinhoff Monitor (TUT) by 42-8 in the other fixture on Monday - completing a disappointing day for the Men from Tshwane, which them concede over 200 points across three competitions.
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