Tuks host Final after nervy win
VARSITY CUP REPORT: UP-Tuks did just about enough in the first half to keep Shimlas at bay - despite a massive second half fightback - to claim a narrow 28-21 victory and the right to host the Final on April 17.
Shimlas trailed 9-23 at the break and dominated the majority of the second half but Tuks' first half scoreboard dominance proved too much of a task for them to overcome, as they bowed out of the competition.
Tuks will host Maties, who beat UJ 22-14 in the first semi-final, in Pretoria to see who will be crowned the 2017 champions.
Shimlas did all the early running as they asked questions of the Tuks defence but the home side came up with answers on every occasion. Following that period of dominance, Shimlas found themselves trailing in the 13th minute when Tuks opened the scoring.
Flyhalf Tinus de Beer spotted a half-gap and broke through Shimlas' defence before finding speedster Sibahle Maxwane on his outside, who cantered in for the opening try of the match. De Beer added the extras to hand the home side a 7-0 lead.
Errors began to creep into both teams' game as Tuks maintained their lead at the first strategy break.
The home side extended their lead soon after the restart as Maxwane bagged a double. De Beer's well-weighted chip kick allowed the wing to get in behind the Shimlas' defence to grab a seven-point try. De Beer's extras stretched the lead to 16-0 after 26 minutes.
Warner pounced on a loose Shimlas line-out throw in the 32nd minute and after a few passes, was on hand to receive the final pass and dotted down. De Beer was once again on target to add the conversion and ensure a 23-0 lead.
Shimlas were not giving up and found reward in the 37th minute when fullback Marco Mason intercepted a Tuks pass inside his 22. He set off on a massive run that got his side into Tuks' half and after a few phases, flank Phumzile Maqondwana dotted down for a seven pointer. Mason added the extras to reduce the deficit to 9-23.
The visitors remained on the front foot at the start of the second half and reduced the deficit to just seven points when replacement hooker Hanno Snyman muscled his over way over the line after Tuks defence caved. Mason added the extras as Tuks led 23-16.
Tuks were reduced to 14-men in the 53rd minute when flank Marco van Staden was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement. It took Shimlas four minutes of having an extra man to grab their third try of the match.
After sustained pressure, Lihleli Xoli was stopped just short of the line but lock Neil Claassen was on hand to burrow his way. Mason failed with the extras as Shimlas had managed to reduce the deficit to 21-23 after 57 minutes.
The match went into a bit of a lull after the second strategy break before bursting into life in the final 10 minutes. Tuks extended their lead in the 74th minute as the pressure took its toll on Shimlas.
Hooker Corniel Else broke away form the back of a driving maul close to Shimlas' line and was too strong to be stopped. De Beer failed with the extras that left the door open for Shimlas, 28-21.
Shimlas had a chance to level matters in the final minute but Marco Mason failed to find touch with a penalty and that allowed Tuks to run out the clock to secure the win.
Tries: Maxwane 2, Warner, Els
Cons: de Beer 3
Tries: Maqondwana, Snyman, Claassen
Cons: Mason 2
Yellow card: Marco van Staden (UP-Tuks, 53 - cynical infringement, slowing down the ball)
UP-Tuks: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Dewald Naude, 13 Toko Maebane, 12 Impi Visser, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Tinus De Beer, 9 Andre Warner (captain), 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Eduan Lubbe, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Bryan Leitch, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Corniel Els , 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Jaco Holtzhausen, 18 Marius Verwey, 19 Juan-Re Swanepoel, 20 Theo Maree, 21 Manie Libbok, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Franco van den Berg.
UFS-Shimlas: 15 Marco Mason, 14 Vuyani Maqina, 13 Lihleli Xoli, 12 Stephan Janse van Rensburg (captain), 11 Carel Coetzee, 10 Nicholas Naude, 9 Dian Badenhorst, 8 Wilandre Kotzenberg, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Neil Claassen, 4 Nicolaas Immelman, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Anrich Alberts, 1 Kwenzokuhle Blose.
Replacements: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Johan Kotze, 18 Thabiso Msiza, 19 Raymond Woest, 20 Nardus Erasmus, 21 Armand Pretorius, 22 Rayhaan Lombaard, 23 Sechaba Matsoele.
Referee: Vusi Msibi
Assistant referees: Morné Ferreira, Renier Louwrens
TMO: Johan Greeff