Centurion — University of Pretoria produced a stunning display of big-match temperament to beat Stellenbosch University 29-23 in the Varsity Cup final in Stellenbosch on Monday.
In a match in which they led for roughly 120 seconds, it was Tuks who produced a match-winning try at the death to steal away the trophy from Maties who had dominated proceedings.
The steely boot of Nevaldo Fleurs saw the home side into a healthy lead for much of the encounter, but ultimately Tuks outscored Maties four tries to one.
Maties struck the first blow of the clash with Mike Mavovana gathering a chip kick in the Tuks 22, and he finished off by scoring in the corner (5-0).
Maties increased their lead as flyhalf Nevaldo Fleurs slotted two penalties as they led 11-0 after 22 minutes.
Against the run of play Tuks scrumhalf Bernard van der Linde gathered a loose pass inside his own half and that was all he needed, as he sprinted away from the Maties defence to score the visitors’ first points of the clash which was a Point of Origin (POR) try 11-7.
Fleurs added another penalty on the half hour mark as Maties led by seven (14-7).
FULL TIME and the @TuksSport have won the FNB Varsity Cup final in dramatic fashion after scoring in the final minutes to trump @MatiesSport.— Varsity Cup (@varsitycup) April 25, 2022
FNB Maties 23 - 29 FNB Tuks#RugbyThatRocks proudly brought to you by @FNBSA and @SteersSA pic.twitter.com/9ikPZCHI6a
Tuks pulled three points back as fullback Stefan Coetzee nailed his first penalty of the evening to close the gap to four(14-10).
Not to be outdone in the duel of the kickers, Fleurs nailed two more penalties for Maties to make it 20-10 at the break.
After a number of unsuccessful attempts on the Tuks tryline, Maties opted to take the three points through a penalty which Fleurs duly converted in the 52nd minute 23-10).
From the restart, Tuks worked their way into the Maties 22, put the ball through the hands and wing Kabelo Mokoena dived over in the corner (23-15).
Bernard Van Der Linde reads it perfectly and gets the first @TuksSport points of the FNB Varsity Cup final!— Varsity Cup (@varsitycup) April 25, 2022
The Tuks scrummie has been outstanding this season. #RugbyThatRocks pic.twitter.com/S5WJQu9Txx
With the clash moving towards its finish, Tuks worked a number of phases on the Maties line before flank Stephan Smit barged his way over next to the post. However, Maties appealed the try and a knock-on was correctly picked up by the TV match official and the score ruled out.
Finally, Tuks were rewarded after camping for what seemed to be an age in the Maties 22, with Mokoena picking up his second try of the evening in the corner. Coetzee crucially missed the conversion attempt from the sideline, as Maties clung to a three-point advantage (23-20).
A moment of brilliance determined the encounter as Coetzee made a stunning break from his own half before offloading to Van der Linde on the Maties 22-metre line as he surged his way to the POR try. Flyhalf Walter Visser slotted the important conversion to make 29-23 with two minutes left.
Maties 23 (20): Try: Mike Mavovan. Penalties: Nevaldo Fleurs (6)
Tuks 29 (10): Tries: Bernard van der Linde 2 (2xPOR), Kabelo Mokoena (2). Conversion: Walter Visser. Penalty: Stefan Coetzee.