JOHANNESBURG – University of the Free State flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela inspired his team to a shock 19-17 victory over defending Varsity Cup champions the University of Pretoria in an error riddled encounter at the Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday evening.
A calm and composed Dobela controlled proceedings with his racking kicks for territory but was more deadly with his well-timed runs and ability to put his outside backs into space.
Over and above Dobela’s impeccable game management, it was his deadly accurate kicking for goal that ultimately won the game for Shimlas with two conversions and a penalty that secured his team an unlikely two point win.
Shimlas did well in the opening stanza to repel countless attacks by the hosts and the entire team must be commended for the bravery they showed with their try-line under siege.
Tuks were eventually rewarded for their relentless toil when Xolisa Guma calmly gathered a cross kick from flyhalf Tinus de Beer to see the home side register the first points of the season.
However, Tuks played into the opposition’s hands by forcing play in their own half and from the plethora of handling errors aided by the Highveld thunderstorm that brought a deluge of rain, Shimlas struck back with a try by wing Francois Agenbag from deep in their half.
After the half-time interval, Shimlas continued to apply the pressure through their forwards winning the war of attrition and the hard working flank Benjamin Janse Van Vuuren extended the visitors lead with a try in the 45th minute.
Dobela was on hand to give the visitors a handy 14 point cushion with a well struck penalty in the 52nd minute.
Tuks tried to stage a valiant comeback when centre Toko Seerane crashed over but they left it too late with captain Denzel Hill scoring a consolation try after the fulltime hooter had sounded.
Last year’s losing finalists Maties also got their campaign off to a perfect start with a 31-3 win over the University of Johannesburg at the UJ Stadium.
Maties made their intentions known from the onset when Michal Haznar scored in the third minute before wing Duncan Saal rounded off a grubber kick to canter over.
The visitor’s first half dominance was completed by hooker Wilmar Arnoldi who crashed over from a disjointed rolling maul.
UJ did their best to be competitive in the second half but had to work with scraps of possession while Maties seemingly took their foot off the pedal and only managed to add one more try by lock Johan Momsen to complete a convincing win.
The University of the North West Pukke also made an impeccable start to the competition with a 70-7 annihilation of Central University of Technology in Potchefstroom on Monday.
Pukke led 24-7 at the half-time break having scored three tries while CUT had done well to register their seven pointer through Tiaan Erasmus.
Wits University stole victory from the jaws of defeat when AJ van Blerk scored a try in the 74th minute to hand his team the lead and ultimately a 30-26 win against the University of Cape Town Ikeys in Cape Town.
It was Wits who got off the blocks first with a try in the 19th minute before Ikeys hit back to wrestle the lead with two tries with the second by Brian Martin being on the stroke of the half-time interval.