The North West University (NWU) Pukke beat the University of Johannesburg (UJ) last night in the first round of the 2017 Varsity Cup rugby competition. A wet and windy Johannesburg did not make for ideal conditions, but that did not dampen the mood as the atmosphere was electric and the rugby of good quality.
Both teams came out all guns blazing and from start to finish it looked like the game could go to either side. Pukke was first to be on the scoreboard as the flyhalf, Schalk Hugo, slotted over a penalty in the 13th minute to make it a 3–0 lead. The rucks and breakdowns were tightly contested, but the UJ loose forwards started dominating and Pukke conceded quite a few turnovers. Nevertheless, Pukke kept using creative backline play and it paid off a few minutes later as Pukke winger Jimmy Mpailane scored an outstanding try from exceptional backline play. Pukke led 10–0 after 20 minutes.
Soon thereafter the game changed, as the Pukke conceded way too many penalties and were punished for it by UJ flyhalf Divan Nel. Nel kicked over a glorious penalty kick to put his team on the board and three quick penalties followed in succession, wiping out the Pukke’s lead. UJ dominated the second 20 minutes of the first half and the teams departed for halftime with UJ leading 12–10.
In 31 encounters at UJ Stadium, 22 of them were won by the team that was leading at half time. This fact hung over Pukke as the teams came on the field for the second half. UJ maintained control over the second half and the home crowd loved it, cheering them on with song and dance. The UJ loose forwards, Wian Conradie and Estiaan Enslin, were kings of the breakdown and this was a big aspect where UJ had the opportunity to capitalize. Unfortunately they couldn’t, as the tough weather led the penalty kicks astray.
UJ fullback Ronald Brown almost kicked over a drop kick, but it was not to be. The second half was almost like a tennis match, as the teams just kicked the ball from one side to the other. When Pukke played with their backline again, an opportunity arose and they were awarded a penalty, which Schalk Hugo turned into three points. Hugo kicked Pukke further into the lead with a penalty and only eight minutes to go. UJ could not score any points in the second half and the game ended with Pukke winning 16–12.
FNB Player that Rocks: Wilmar Arnoldi (FNB Pukke)
FNB UJ: 12
Pens: Divan Nel (4)
FNB NWU-Pukke: 16
Tries: Jimmy Mpailane. Cons: Schalk Hugo. Pens: Schalk Hugo (3)
FNB UJ: 15 Ronald Brown, 14 Tyreeq February, 13 Ramaboea, 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Aphiwe Dyanti, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Johan Esterhuizen, 8 Jo-Hanko de Villiers, 7 Adrian Bester, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 Estian Enslin, 4 Kyle van Dalen, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Johannes Snyman, 1 Dillon Bakos.
Subs: 16 Emmanuel Morowane, 17 Gela Khanya, 18 Reinhaard Nothnagel, 19 Leon Massyn, 20 Hilton Mudraki, 21 Ewan Adams, 22 Peter John Walters, 23 Sarel Smit
NWU-Pukke: 1 Dolf van Deventer, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 3 Dewald Dekker, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 5 Loftus Morrison, 6 Wandile Mazibuko, 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 9 Chriswill September, 10 Schalk Hugo, 11 Tapiwe Mafura, 12 Henko Marais, 13 Elden Schoeman, 14 Jimmy Mpailane, 15 Lungelo Gosa.
Subs: 23 Justin Newman, 22 AK Nela, 21 Caleb Louw, 20 Marcel Henn, 19 Boela Venter, 18 Morné Strydom, 17 Nico van Tonder, 16 Louis van der Westhuizen
Written by: Van Zyl Cronje