DURBAN – With nine rounds of the Varsity Cup now complete, the cream of the crop has risen to the top with no real surprises.
Perhaps one surprise; the defending champions, Pukke, have not made the cut and won’t be there to defend their crown, but the likes off Maties, Tuks, UJ and Shimlas will battle it out to reach the final.
In the end, Tuks and Maties managed to pick up bonus point wins each in order to finish equal on points again as they began the round with 29. The team from Pretoria however secured top spot because of a superior points difference. UJ were hunting Maties for a chance at a home semifinal, but they were pushed aside easily to stay in third spot and set up a replay of this match for their semifinal.
Before the final round even began, there was not too many other teams that were pushing for the top four, only Pukke had a chance of usurping the Shimlas who were not playing in the final round. However, they needed a big result against Tuks to get themselves into fourth, and could not overcome the log leaders to get the much needed points.
In the opening game of the night, even away from home, Tuks backed up their quality by defeating the defending champions comfortably 43-28. The win gave the Tuks side the necessary points, but they also picked up the bonus point to make a real push to secure top spot.
Tuks knew that without a bonus point they could lose their top spot in the later game, but with the bonus, Maties would have to get five points, and score a huge haul of points to beat the points difference spread.
Maties did put their fellow top four opponents, UJ, to the sword in the hunt of boosting their points difference. They defeated UJ 65-19, getting pretty close to that points differential in the end. The Maties semifinal thus sets up as a direct replay of this game in Round Nine.
Tuks will face Shimlas in the other semifinal, in Pretoria, as first plays fourth with the team from Bloemfontein being well rested after their last round bye.
In the other games, which had little bearing on the semi final playoffs, Wits managed to pick up another win in their most successful season to date, beating Ikeys 35-23.
CUT completed their nine rounds of Varsity Cup action without picking up a single win, going down to the Madibaz 40-14.