In a repeat of the 2022 FNB Varsity Cup final, FNB Maties thoroughly outclassed defending champions, FNB UP-Tuks 46-35 at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday, 20 March 2023.
The Stellenbosch side find themselves only three points adrift of the log leaders, NWU Eagles.
Despite making three times more errors in the first half, than the team from Pretoria, Maties went into the halftime break with a comfortable 31-7 lead.
Star performer from last week’s sensational 56-54 away win against Wits, Grant de Jager was in fine form again. The first-year student, who picked up his second FNB Player That Rocks in as many weeks, ran rampant and gained some valuable metres for the home side. His seven-point try came as a result of some excellent spatial awareness. De Jager intercepted a wayward ball off his feet and showed a clean pair of heels to canter in for Maties’ second try.
Maties flyhalf Jurie Matthee was on song off the tee, the skipper converted all three first half tries along with two penalty conversions taking his personal tally in the opening half to 12 points. Matthee was exceptional with his tactical kicking while veteran centre Waqaar Solaan got over the advantage line with ease.
Solaan opened the scoring for Maties when he powered over from close range, Matthee added the extras, 7-0. Soon thereafter in what can be dubbed as the only real time Tuks looked confident on attack, the visitors scored when Allister Williams crashed over next to the right upright and with Walter Visser’s conversion levelled the scores at 7-all.
Both De Jager and Matthew van Schalkwyk each added a seven-point lead with Matthee converted both, extending the five-time champions’ lead to 31-7.
Maties picked up where they left off in the opening few minutes of the second half when replacement back Jacques Rousseau scored in only his second FNB Varsity Cup appearance. Matthee’s conversion attempt sailing across the face of the poles, 36-7.
The men from Pretoria clawed their way back with two quick tries in succession – outside backs Zander Reynders and Zandre Kruger both dotting down on the left side of the field, Visser’s conversion making it a 17-point game. What can be viewed as the potential shift in momentum was when Visser cantered over for his side’s fourth converted try but more importantly a seven-point try reducing the lead of Maties to just eight points.
Maties had to hold off a late surge by Tuks but the defensive effort by the home side proved to be too strong for the visitors to break through.
A late second half try, minutes away from the full-time whistle via Maties’ second rower Marco Van Rhyn, Matthee adding insult to injury for the Tuks side, taking the game away from the defending champs, 46-35.
FNB Player That Rocks: Grant De Jager (Maties)
For Maties: 46
Tries: Waqar Solaan, Grant De Jager (seven-pointer), Matthew Van Schalkwyk (seven-pointer), Jacques Rousseau, Simon Miller
Cons: Jurie Matthee (4)
Pens: Matthee (3)
Yellow Card: Thomas Bursey
For Tuks 35
Tries: Allister Williams, Zander Reynders, Zandre Kruger, Walter Visser (seven-pointer), Bayanda Ngubane
Cons: Visser (3), Clyde Lewis
Yellow Card: Louis Meiring
FNB Maties: 15 Cade Croy, 14 Beon Titus, 13 Grant De Jager, 12 Waqar Solaan, 11 Matthew Van Schalkwyk, 10 Jurie Matthee, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 HD Stemmet, 7 Adriaan Nel, 6 Siyabonga Matanda, 5 Simon Miller, 4 Marco Van Rhyn, 3 Ammaar Burton, 2 Siya Ngubelanga, 1 Vernon Matonga
Replacements: 16 Willem Van Der Heever, 17 Ian Rheeder, 18 Corné Weilbach, 19 Juan Beukes, 20 Camden Schoeman, 21 Mckyle Volmoer, 22 Mambo Mkhize, 23 Jacques Rousseau
FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Samkelo Myeni, 14 Ambesa Zenzile, 13 Zander Reynders, 12 Lincoln Daniels, 11 Clyde Lewis, 10 Walter Visser, 9 Rowan Cloete, 8 Dian Schoonees, 7 Hilton Gie, 6 Justice Nkombua, 5 Louis Meiring, 4 Johannes Mare, 3 Dian Coetzee, 2 Allister Williams, 1 Ethan Burger
Replacements: 16 Andre Van der Merwe, 17 Bambolunye Dlamini, 18 Werner Geldenhuys, 19 Makhekhaya Malunjwa, 20 Juandré Jooste, 21 Daimon O’Connell, 22 Zandre Kruger, 23 Bayanda Ngubane