Chris Smit breaks away during Maties win over Pukker in the Varsity Cup final in Stellenbosch on Monday night. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - All hail to Maties! Maties lived up to their pre-match favourites tag by putting on a rugby masterclass to emerge 40-7 winners and clinch a record fourth Varsity Cup crown in Stellenbosch.

The home side should have wrapped up proceedings earlier in the game but a slew of handling errors and bad decision making cost them the opportunity to score a plethora of tries.

But Maties were not to be deterred from their ambitions of becoming champions again after an eight year drought that had followed them winning three consecutive titles.

Having patiently waited for their moment to come and also having to endure some valiant defending from Pukke, Maties were finally rewarded for their hard toil through a penalty try in the 19th minute before flyhalf Chris Smith slotted over a drop-goal on the half hour mark to extend the hosts lead to 10 points.

Pukke tried to fight back with ball in hand but were often limited to playing a lot of rugby deep in their half.

In a rare break out of their half, Pukke capitalised on the opportunity by scoring a well-engineered try for Tiaan Bezuidenhout to crash over from a rolling maul and bring the visitors to within three points by the half-time interval.

Maties began the second half with a fortuitous interception try by Edwill van der Merwe who plucked out of the air an attempted long pass by Pukke flyhalf Schalk Hugo and that was the opening of the sluice gates.

Even though Maties were to be denied a try by Ernst van Rhyn who knocked the ball over the line, the unrelenting waves of attack on the Pukke line eventually told with star lock Johan Momsen diving over in the left hand corner on the south end of the Danie Craven Stadium to send the home crowd into delirium and all but secure the title for the home side.

In the dying moments of the game Pukke were hanging on for dear life and trying to limit the damage but the home side were determined to complete this all out dominance and they did so with two tries in the last six minutes by replacements back Munier Hartzenberg and forward Ricky Ngwagbara.

In the end it was sweet revenge for Maties who had suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 defeat in the final two years ago to hand Pukke their first title but this title would have been sweeter because Maties won the championship without losing a game.

Maties:

Tries: Penalty try, Edwill van der Merwe, Johan Momsen, Munier Hartzenberg, Ricky Ngwagbara. Conversions: Penalty try, Chris Smith (4).

Pukke:

Try: Tiaan Bezuidenhout. Conversion: Schalk Hugo.

IOL Sport

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