2013 Varsity Cup semifinal line-up: Maties v NMMU; UP-Tuks v UJ
The FNB NMMU Madibaz made history when they qualified for their first-ever Varsity Cup semifinal by beating defending champions UP-Tuks 13-7 in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
The hard-earned victory, which was their first against UP-Tuks, saw the Madibaz advance to the knock-out stage for the first time, edging out FNB NWU-Pukke by the narrowest of margins on points' difference.
NWU-Pukke staged an incredible fightback against the table-topping and untouchable FNB Maties in Stellenbosch, with two late tries from wing Luther Obi earning them two bonus points in their 37-34 defeat, but it was not enough to move them past the Madibaz.
The Maties had cruised to a comfortable 24-0 lead in front of their home crowd, but NWU-Pukke refused to give in and came within a single conversion of making the semifinals.
Earlier on Monday, FNB UJ staged a dramatic comeback of their own, as two late tries from scrumhalf Vian van der Watt saw them salvage an unlikely 26-26 draw with FNB UFS-Shimlas in Johannesburg.
UJ had trailed 26-5 at one stage, but rallied to score 21 unanswered points against a UFS-Shimlas side that had two players sent to the sin bin in the last ten minutes.
That saw UJ take third place on the final standings, setting up an all-north semifinal showdown with UP-Tuks in Pretoria next week, while NMMU will travel to Stellenbosch to take on the unbeaten Maties in their coastal semifinal derby.
In Cape Town, 2011 champions FNB UCT held off a determined FNB Wits side to secure their first win of the season which saw plenty of tries on the Green Mile.
Ikeys took a 42-0 lead into the half-time break, but Wits fought back admirably and pushed UCT right until the end, with the hosts eventually hanging on for an entertaining 50-40 win.
It was Wits' first four-try bonus point of the season, and although they ended their campaign winless their second half display showed their characteristic fighting spirit.
In the Varsity Shield, FNB CUT continued their unbeaten run with a comprehensive 36-12 victory over Fort Hare in Alice, and Peter de Villiers's FNB UWC side notched their first away win of the season, beating FNB UKZN 36-13 in Pietermaritzburg.
This means that the match between UWC and Fort Hare next week in Bellville is effectively a semifinal, with the outcome of that game set to decide who faces the table-topping CUT in the final.
In the Young Guns competition Maties swept UJ aside, scoring seven tries in Stellenbosch to secure a 43-2 victory. Maties will face the UFS-Shimlas Young Guns in their semifinal, while defending champions UP-Tuks will take on the Ikeys in the other.
Finally, in the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships, Steinhoff Villagers maintained their unbeaten status with a narrow 12-10 victory over Medies in Stellenbosch to set up a semifinal with Steinhoff Bastion who recorded a shock 32-29 victory over champions Vishuis who, in turn, will face Medies in the other Koshuis semifinal.