After coming so close on two previous occasions, the University of Western Cape will finally get to dine at the main table of the Varsity Cup next season.
The “Bushies from Bellville” were crowned Varsity Shield champions at their home ground on Monday evening after an emphatic six-try 45-2 victory over the University of Fort Hare Blues. The winners of the Varsity Shield earn automatic promotion to the Varsity Cup, whilst runners-up Fort Hare now face a playoff if they wish to join UWC in the prestigious university competition.
UWC were richly-deserved victors after being in scintillating form throughout the regular season. Under the guidance of 1995 World Cup legend Chester Williams and fellow Springbok Bolla Conradie, UWC had lost just one match all season – the round-robin fixture to Fort Hare in Alice by just one point.
A strong crowd who had come out to Bellville were treated to a feast of running rugby with the home side dominating all facets of play. They were in full voice as early as the second minute already when outside centre Michaine Fick scythed through for the opening score from the kickoff.
The Blues were suffering from just that – the blues – for the occasion just seemed to be too much for the men from the Eastern Cape as they never seemed to settle from that early setback.
Their lineouts were particularly dismal with UWC second-rower Brandon Valentyn producing a colossal effort at the front for the home side. Valentyn was a constant source of possession for his team, stealing line-outs almost at will, and was equally forceful on the drive, which allowed the dangerous UWC halfback pairing of flyhalf Aiden Cupido and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies to pull the strings with precision.
The former Western Province U-19 and Paul Roos duo have an almost telepathic understanding, with impressive left-winger Andre Manuel often running off either of their shoulders to make the line-break.
It was after one such incursion that led to Jantjies’ first try of the evening when he was on hand to pick up Manuel’s off-load to dot down comfortably.
Jantjies, though, needed no assistance for his second score when he bamboozled a dozing Fort Hare defence to run in under the poles untouched. Cupido added the extras which left UWC in almost unassailable position of 21-0 at the halftime break.
Fort Hare finally made in onto the scoreboard after the break through a two-point penalty, but it was not the beginning of the revival the visitors were hoping for.
Instead it was a mere blip with UWC extending their lead through tries from reserve hooker Ismaeel Schroeder and prop Justin Theys. With the Blues also starting to lose their discipline with flank Luyolo Batshise being sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Jantjies, the match was over as a contest.
But UWC were not finished just yet. Manuel delivered the coup de grace with a scorching run down the touchline after a break by his fellow wing Kurt-Lee Arendse to dive over in the right corner which was a fitting way to set off the celebrations that was sure to last long into the night.
FNB UWC: 45
Tries: Michaine Fick, Herschel Jantjies (2), Ishmaeel Schroeder (2), Andre Manuel Conversions: Aidynn Cupido (5)
FNB UFH: 2 Penalties: Sergio Christian
FNB UWC: 1 Mzo Buthelezi, 2 Ralph Jansen, 3 Justin Theys, 4 Brandon Valentyn, 5 Curtly Thomas, 6 Dean van Tonder, 7 Shaine Orderson, 8 Adrian Paarwater, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 10 Aidynn Cupido, 11 Andre Manuel, 12 Hendrick Carstens, 13 Michaine Fick, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15 Daniel Bock
Replacements: 16 Ismaeel Schroeder, 17 Nathan Cloete, 18 Matthew le Roux, 19 Alwyn Carstens, 20 Clayton Daniels, 21 Rodrick Moses, 22 Keagan Fortuin, 23 Bradly Jumaats
FNB UFH: 1 Lixhanti Tame, 2 Daniel Caku, 3 Bulelani Mdodana, 4 Athenkosi Makelani, 5 Philisani Ncoko, 6 Zanoxolo Qwele, 7 Nkosinathi Njenje, 8 Sibusiso Sityebi, 9 Qhama Masiza, 10 Sergio Christian, 11 Louis Bowers, 12 Xolela Daniels, 13 Somila Jho, 14 Zayne Farmers, 15 siphuxolo Zaula
Replacements: Litha Magocoba, 17 Asiphe Fanele, 18 Siphosethu Tsotsa, 19 Lukho Jongizulu, 20 Lindokuhle Kenene, 21 Luyolo Batshise, 22 Vukile Novuka, 23 Sivuyile Mdishwa