Cape Town — UCT Ikeys produced a spectacular comeback in the first Varsity Cup match of the year to beat NWU Eagles 35-26 at the Fanie du Toit Stadium on Monday.
Trailing 26-9 at the break, UCT came back from being totally outplayed in the opening half to scoring keeping the hosts scoreless in the second.
The hosts were in complete control in the first half, with almost all the rugby being played in UCT’s half. They went 3-0 up early with a successful penalty kick by Nivan Petersen, and the early momentum stayed with them as they went 6-0 up a few minutes later.
The @ikeytigers opening try of FNB Varsity Cup 2022🙌🏉!— Varsity Cup (@varsitycup) February 14, 2022
The intercept from inside their own 22 and Suleiman Hartzenberg puts the hammer down to score under the poles for the visitors!#RugbyThatRocks pic.twitter.com/Y8NZsg4ORk
The flyhalf continued his brilliant contributions with the boot in the first quarter when he put in a beauty of a 50-22. From the ensuing lineout, the NWU Eagles forwards quickly moved the ball before Heinz Bertram crashed over for the opening try. Petersen made no mistake with the extras to take the score to 13-0.
Suleiman Hartzenburg scored against the run of play on debut shortly after the first strategic break when he intercepted a rushed pass from the opposition. David Hayes added the conversion to make it a four-point game (13-9).
Petersen’s form with the boot remained intact as he connected his third penalty to put a bit of space between the scores (16-9).
After some top support play by their forwards, Riaan Genis pulled off a double dummy to grab a try. Petersen knocked this one over as well to stretch their lead (23-9).
Around the half-hour mark, Petersen made their lead a commanding one when he added a fourth penalty (26-9).
UCT scored almost three minutes after the 40-minute mark after a period of sustained effort culminated in them running in their second try (26-14).
The Cape side drew first blood in the second half when William Rose went over for a converted try after a strong scrum (26-21).
The possession stats were a bit more spread out in the second half and NWU were guilty of a few errors which prevented them from making use of their opportunities and field position. UCT, however, missed their chance to get within two points of NWU when Hayes missed a penalty attempt from right in front of the posts in the third quarter.
It mattered not as, with six minutes to go, Ikeys showed superb power and control to crash over for their fourth try and level things out in Potchefstroom (26-26). Both sides had a failed shot at goal after that.
In a scene that was amazing enough to take you back to that final between the two sides back in 2014, Ikeys burgled it at the death with a try by replacement back Duran Koevort to secure the win.
Duran Koevort breaks the hearts of Eagles fans on Valentine's Day as the @ikeytigers win it in the dying moments of the opening @FNBSA Varsity Game of 2022 💔!— Varsity Cup (@varsitycup) February 14, 2022
FNB UCT win it 35 -26. #RugbyThatRocks pic.twitter.com/VdneHnDHFL
NWU Eagles — 26: Tries: Heinz Bertram, Riaan Genis Conversions: Nivan Petersen (2) Penalties: Petersen (4), Pietersen
UCT Ikeys — 35: Tries: Suleiman Hartzenberg, Rihaz Fredericks, William Rose, Seth Christian, Duran Koevort Conversions: David Hayes (2)