James Venter UJ scoring his try with Marnus (Pottie) Potgieter of Tuks to late to stop him.Christiaan Kotze/Asem, Varsity Cup

JOHANNESBURG – Perseverance has earned the University of Johannesburg rugby team a spot in the Varsity Cup semi-finals against NWU-Pukke next week.

UJ, who were under pressure after two opening losses in the competition, defeated University of Cape Town 18-17 on Monday to finish third on the log, behind Stellenbosch and the Potchefstroom outfit.

This has given them another tilt at Pukke after they suffered a 18-15 loss to the same opponents in Potch last month.

UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg praised the team for their ability to fight back in a number of tough situations.

“We faced adversity after those two early defeats and, with a number of injuries, there was a lot of pressure,” he said. “But the ability to stick together and to fight hard every week helped us to achieve a place in the top four.

“For example, we faced a crucial match against Shimlas [Free State University], but our fighting qualities came through with a good win.”

Following the two early setbacks, he said the team had won five of their remaining six matches and drawn the other.

“We are not the main team on everyone’s lips. Each week there was pressure, but to get three consecutive wins, then a draw, followed by another win, ultimately we will take that.”

UJ scrumhalf Bradley Thain gets his backline away during a Varsity Cup rugby match. Photo: Asem Engage

Janse van Rensburg added that Monday’s semi-final in Potch would be all about who could handle the pressure on the day.

“It’s also about knowing that you can win it in the 80th minute so you have to be prepared to fight all the way,” said the coach. “I believe our match against UCT, which was basically a quarterfinal, will have helped us to understand what sort of pressure we will face next week.

“We have reached the semifinals the hard way and this group of players will know how to handle the key moments.” 

African News Agency (ANA)

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