Wits take down giants Pukke
VARSITY CUP REPORT: Wits kept Pukke scoreless in the second half while overturning a six-point half-time deficit to claim a massive 22-13 victory in Potchefstroom.
A Gianni Lombard penalty and conversion, Constant Beckerling try and a late Manuel Rass try sealed an incredible victory for the visitors as they lived up to their billing of being the dark horse in the competition.
Julian Delicado missed two early penalties which could have seen Pukke take an early lead and then it was Gianni Lombard's turn to miss a shot at goal, although it was from 49 metres. Pukke then took the game to Wits with a few massive carries that had Wits scrambling in defence.
Pukke broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when hooker Louis van der Westhuizen dotted down after a successful rolling maul from a five-metre line-out. Delicado failed with the conversion but Pukke had a 5-0 lead.
Wits then got things going in the 20th minute when Wandisile Simelane went on a huge run through the Pukke defence. It resulted in van der Westhuizen being sin binned for slowing ball down at a breakdown and Wits opted for a scrum five metres from Pukke's try-line.
Lombard got the ball at first receiver and stepped his way over the line to get his side on the board. He converted as well to hand his side a 7-5 lead just before the first strategy break.
Pukke went on the attack after the restart and found three points through Delicado's boot after Wits were penalised for having their hands in a ruck close to their try-line. Pukke then extended their lead to 13-7 when Jimmy Mpailane got his name on the scoresheet.
The wing benefitted from a massive Marno Redelinghuys run in the 30th minute to grab his side's second try, however, Delicado failed with the conversion.
No further points were added as the home side took the slender lead into the half-time break.
Pukke went on the attack at the start of the second half and spent 10 minutes in Wits' 22 but visitors held firm in defence to deny the home side from extending their lead. Wits then started getting their hands on the ball and got themselves a second try.
Wits were looking dangerous with possession and got the better of Pukke's defence in the 59th minute when captain Constant Beckerling burrowed his way over. Lombard failed with the conversion to leave the visitors trailing 12-13.
Pukke then found themselves down to 14 men for the second time in the match when replacement hooker Wilmar Arnoldi was shown yellow for a high tackle. Lombard slotted the resulting penalty to hand his side a 15-13 lead.
Wits were building up confidence as the game drew to a close and a patient build-up saw them edge their way up field after a line-out inside Pukke's half. They took the ball through numerous phases and eventually got a five-pointer when Manuel Rass got himself over the line.
Lombard added the extras to ensure a 22-13 lead with four minutes remaining in the match.
Pukke launched an attack from inside their half in the final minute and looked to get over the line with a chip-and-chase but Wits' defence was there to kill the ball and seal the win.
Tries: van der Westhuizen, Mpailane
Tries: Lombard, Beckerling, Rass
Cons: Lombard 2
Yellow cards: Louis van der Westhuizen (NWU-Pukke, 21), Wilmar Arnoldi (NWU-Pukke, 66)
NWU-Pukke: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Jimmy Mpailane, 13 Elden Schoeman, 12 Jacob Pienaar, 11 Lungelo Gosa, 10 Julian Delicado, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (captain), 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Wandile Mazibuko, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Loftus Morrison, 3 Morné Strydom, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Rudolph van Deventer.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Dewald Dekker, 18 Matimu Manganyi, 19 Jan Venter, 20 Marcel Henn, 21 Caleb Louw, 22 Nkululeko Mcuma, 23 Dean Stokes.
Wits: 15 Luxolo Ntsepe, 14 Kwanele Ngema, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Brandan Hewitt, 11 Joshua Jarvis, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Jethro de Lange, 7 Conor Brockschmidt, 6 Constant Beckerling (captain), 5 Rhyno Herbst, 4 Graham Logan, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 CJ Greeff.
Replacements: 16 Justin Brandon, 17 Brandon Palmer, 18 Pascal Snyman, 19 Michael Renwick, 20 Karl Erasmus, 21 Manuel Rass, 22 AJ van Blerk, 23 Ameer Williams.
Referee: Vusi Msibi
Assistant referees: Local