Captain Jono Ross holds aloft the Varsity Cup as his teammates celebrate after beating Maties in the final at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday night. Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - Tuks retained their Varsity Cup title by storming to a comprehensive 44-5 victory over Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Monday night.

The powerful Pretoria unit scored five tries to hand Maties their first defeat of the season, and just their third loss at home in six years of Varsity Cup rugby.

The match started at a frantic pace, with some big collisions as both teams threw everything at one another.

The home side lost two early lineouts which gave Tuks the attacking platform they needed to take the early lead, and they duly notched two quick tries to open up a 16-0 advantage.

Scrumhalf Danie Faasen was first to score when he burst over following some sustained pressure from his powerful forward pack on the Maties tryline, and his halfback partner Willie du Plessis followed that up soon afterwards when he finished off a flowing movement to give Tuks the upper hand at the first strategy break.

Another lost Maties lineout saw Tuks wing Vainon Willis come within inches of scoring their third try, but he was forced into touch as he went to ground the ball in the corner, much to the relief of the crowd.

However, the visitors kept the pressure on and were rewarded when skipper Jono Ross bounced out of a tackle to get over next to the poles just before halftime, giving them a commanding 24-0 lead at the break.

The Pretoria side started the second half in dominant style, hammering away at the Maties defence, and it was not long before wing Courtnall Skosan forced his way over for their fourth try.

Despite their desperate situation, Maties did not give in and eventually got on the scoreboard when wing Clearance Khumalo dived over in the corner for a try which reduced the gap to 32-5. Tuks hit back with a penalty from Handre Pollard and a drop goal from fullback Clayton Blommetjies.

The final blow was struck just minutes before the final whistle when Willis snatched an intercept to race away for the try which secured Tuks’ second Varsity Cup title with the biggest winning margin in a final.

Cape Times