Johannesburg – Maties maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a hard-fought 37-15 victory over the University of Cape Town (UCT) in a Cape derby played in sizzling heat on the Green Mile.
The win sees Maties keep their spot at the top of the Varsity Cup standings, whilst for UCT it was yet another loss which leaves them still looking for their first victory of the season.
Although the scoreline reflects a heavy defeat, the match was highly competitive until two late Maties tries saw them run away with an ultimately comfortable win.
The visitors wasted little time in putting UCT under pressure and spent the first five minutes of the game camped in Ikeys territory, with hooker Neethling Gericke going over for the opening try from a driving maul.
The home side suffered another crucial blow soon afterwards when captain Liam Slatem was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements by his side, but UCT showed good commitment on defence to hold out until the first strategy break. Ikeys got on the board with a penalty from fullback Ross Jones-Davies and were boosted by the return of Slatem, but Maties hit back with another with another try from Gericke from a rolling maul which was a carbon copy of his first.
The touchline conversion from Dean Grant stretched their advantage to 13-2, but UCT responded with a try of their own when Bradley Bosman forced his way over in the corner after some good work from lock James Kilroe from an attacking line-out. Jones-Davies landed the tough conversion and UCT went into the half-time break trailing 13-10 in the sweltering conditions.
UCT started the second half with real intent, forcing Maties onto the back foot, and it paid off when Tiger Bax went over for the try to give them the lead for the first time in the game.
However, they did not have it for long as Maties took the advantage straight back through a sensational individual effort from centre Ryan Nell. After winning a turnover deep in their own half the ball was spun out to Nell who kicked ahead and showed plenty of speed and awareness to collect it and finish the try that put his side 21-15 ahead.
Maties secured the bonus point with ten minutes to go when flank Beyers de Villiers barged past a tiring UCT defence to score under the poles and extend their advantage to 29-15. A late intercept try from replacement wing JP Lewis inflated the scoreline further as he cruised over to make it 37-15 as Maties wrapped up a comfortable victory.
UCT: Tries: Bosman, Bax. Con: Jones-Davies. Pen: Jones-Davies
Maties: Tries: Gericke 2, Nell, De Villers, Lewis. Cons: Grant 4 – Sapa