CAPE TOWN – After a promising performance in their Varsity Cup opener last week, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) were taught a lesson in how tough life really can be in the top-tier of student rugby in their first home match on Monday afternoon.
Former champions Shimlas, fresh off a bye last week, came to Bellville intent on making a statement against the tournament newbies, and did just that with a crushing 47-25 bonus-point victory.
The University of the Free State outfit ran in seven tries, while UWC managed only three in reply.
Shimlas controlled possession, showed slick handling and also played the conditions perfectly through intelligent use of the grubber kick when faced with the gale-force-like wind blowing in their faces.
In contrast, UWC coach Chester Williams’ only blessing on the day is that he didn’t have any hair to pull out in frustration due to his team’s lack of discipline.
The home team lost both flank Reece Bocks and prop Justin Theys to the sin-bin.
Their collective 20 minutes in the cooler placed UWC under severe pressure, particularly at the set-piece, which allowed Shimlas to gain the ascendancy and front-foot ball to put their outside backs into space.
Theys, in particular, may come in for the hairdryer treatment from the former Springbok wing after the loosehead was yellow-carded for the second week in a row.
“It was disappointing. We had the same problem last week. Same players, same result. I think we’re going to struggle if we don’t improve. The referees are going to keep a close eye on us now,” Williams told IOL Sport.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with Shimlas opening the scoring within the first two minutes through a try by fullback Sechaba Matsoele in the far right corner.
UWC responded virtually immediately through a try by scrumhalf Clayton Daniels.
It remained a tightly-fought contest for the remainder of the first half, with UWC utilising the wind at their backs through some brilliant long-range kicking from fullback Tristan Leyds.
Both teams traded further blows, with Lyle Hendricks slotting over a couple of penalties for UWC before Marnus Boshoff dotted the first of his two tries for Shimlas.
Again UWC struck back with arguably the most pleasing moment of the day for the home fans that filled the main grandstand, when flyhalf Aidynn Cupido intercepted inside his own half and ran virtually 60 meters to score under the Shimlas posts.
Congrats to Andre Manuel from FNB UWC who picks up the @SteersSA Kinging Moment award and Marnus Boshoff from FNB Shimlas who earns the @FNBSA Player That Rocks bragging rights!#RugbyThatRocks pic.twitter.com/umUqg0YvEx— Varsity Cup (@varsitycup) February 11, 2019
The scoring was not over in the first half, though, with the visitors ensuring UWC would pay dearly for the sin-binning of Bocks, with Sibabalo Qoma barging over to give Shimlas a slender 21-20 lead at halftime.
The 2015 champions never surrendered the lead again. Unlike UWC, they were composed when playing against the wind, and added a further four tries in the second period.
UWC’s only reply came through left wing André Manuel after some neat footwork once again by the impressive Leyds.
“We did want to kick the ball a bit more, particularly when we played with the wind. But not against the wind. We wanted to keep the ball-in-hand more,” Williams said.
“Unfortunately they didn’t do it, and we had too many turnovers at the breakdown. We must just keep our heads up. We still have six games to go. It is not over yet.”@ZaahierAdams