Chester's UWC book Varsity Cup spot
VARSITY SPOTLIGHT: After years of coming so agonisingly close the University of the Western Cape (UWC) have finally claimed a spot in the illustrious Varsity Cup tournament.
The class of 2018 did what their predecessors, in 2013 and 2016, failed to do.
The 2017 Varsity Shield Champions continued to build on last year's fine form as they maintained a five-match unbeaten run by recording wins of an average of 45 points per game.
Despite not producing a 45-point scoreline, Thursday's 39-18 win over Univesity of Fort Hare (UFH) at Bellville was a remarkable moment for the team, who will now feature in the 2019 Varsity Cup.
The hosts got off to a great start after sustained pressure led to hooker Justin Theys barging his way over the try line. Lyle Hendricks converted to give his side an 8-0 lead.
Soon 8-0 became 16-0 after fullback Tristan Leyds' break made sure he made his way over the line for his side’s second converted try.
The visitors responded in the 12th minute through a well-worked try from Lonwabo Ntsundwane, however, the conversion was missed which left UFH with just five points on the board.
The Bushies extended the lead thanks to a try by Mark Bright.
Sokhaba Mpemba pulled one back for Fort Hare but UWC's Reece Bocks ensured the hosts had the final say with a try on the stroke of halftime - taking the score to 29–13.
Speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse was not to be left out the action as the wing bagged a try of his own in the 44th minute. Hendricks failed to convert, 34 – 13.
The visitors refused to go down without a fight and Sibongile Novuka flew down the wing for his own five-pointer. Richards’ conversion went wide as the hosts maintained a 34-18 lead with 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
However similarly to the conclusion of the first half, UWC had the last say. This time Alwyn Carstens broke the visitors’ defence for a five-pointer and the win.
The victory means UWC automatically qualify for the Varsity Cup with a game in hand.
A truly unforgettable moment for the team coach by Springbok and 1995 World Cup winner Chester Williams.
Since taking over the reins from former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers in 2017, UWC have excelled under the leadership of Williams.
"This is truly a historical moment for UWC," an emotional head coach Williams told rugby365com after the match.
"Credit has to go to the players and the brotherhood they have formed. They work together, they play together, they trust one another and that is truly important to me as a coach,"
"The guys worked really hard. And yes we have qualified now, but now the hard work starts,"
Varsity Shield results:
UWC 39-18 UFH
WSU 15-8 TUT
CPUT 50-10 Rhodes
By Leezil Hendricks
Additional Source: @VarsityCup