By Brynley Van Aardt
After a tough day at the office on Monday evening, the FNB Maties are currently sitting on their first Varsity Cup defeat in three years. The FNB UCT Ikeys (Ikeys) put an end to the Stellenbosch side’s 25-match winning streak at the tournament.
After an opening try by the Ikeys in the seventh minute and a successful penalty kick in the 13th minute, they were able to stay at an eight-point lead until the 26th minute, when Maties captain David Brits was able to make it over the try line after a great scrum by his team. A successful conversion by Nevaldo Fleurs was able to then bring the score to 8 – 7 for the Ikeys.
Despite having over 60% of the possession in the first half, Maties continued to struggle against a 13-man Ikeys team who had been handed two yellow cards. Another successful penalty kick, as well as a try in the last minute of the first half by Devon Arendse, saw Ikeys leading, despite the disadvantage with 16 points to 7, after another failed conversion.
As play continued in the second half, the yellow cards did too. With a danger tackle in the 41st minute, the Ikeys’ yellow card tally went up to three for their first match of the season.
Two penalty kicks later, Maties were able to add another 6 points courtesy of Fleurs’ boot to bring the score to 16 – 13, still in favour of Ikeys.
Another yellow card – but this time to Maties’ Matthys Kitshoff, saw Ikeys take advantage of the extra man and add another seven points to their tally. Their second try of the game was aided by a successful conversion from this matches Player that Rocks James Tedder.
Ikeys kept up the momentum, expanding their lead with another penalty adding three points to bring the score to 26 – 13.
After a fourth yellow card was handed to Ikeys, an opening was left for Maties. This opportunity saw Mitchell Carstens scoring a try in the 73rd minute followed by a conversion by Fleurs. This now brought the score to 26-20, meaning a single converted try would put Maties in the lead.
However, after a breakaway, Ikeys were almost able to extend their lead, but a dropped ball in the try zone after an impressive tackle saw Ikeys only rewarded with a penalty for their efforts.
Despite an impressive play in the final minutes by Maties in an attempt to steal the win, another penalty against them saw Ikeys kick the ball out and claim their first win against the Stellenbosch side since 2014.
“[Monday] night was obviously not the result we wanted, or the start we wanted either. However, it is part of the game. It can take you to a dark place, but things can also switch around very quickly, so we haven’t lost hope. We are not going to ponder on it too long – we don’t really have the time to do that. So, we are looking forward to the next game and hopefully we can change things around,” Brits said.
The Maroon Machine will be continuing their quest for Varsity Cup glory on 8 April when they take on FNB UWC in the second round of the tournament with a strong FNB Wits team waiting for them on Saturday 11 April.