The mighty Maties faced off with defending champions Tuks on the 25th April for the Varsity Cup trophy. This will be the Maroon Machine’s 10th appearance in a Varsity Cup final and they hope to secure their sixth title on Monday night.
Here is how our road so far in the tournament has fared:
FNB UP-TUKS (9) vs FNB MATIES (19)
Hooker Sean Swart scored a 70th-minute try as FNB Maties beat FNB UP-Tuks 19-9 at Tuks Stadium. Maties dominated possession and territory but weren’t able to take their try-scoring chances in the first half. They relied on captain Adriaan van der Bank to keep the scoreboard ticking over, with opposite number Jandré Burger also kicking three penalties to make it 9-9. The visitors’ bold decision to kick a late penalty to touch instead of at goal paid off as they won the lineout and rumbled over the tryline with Swart the man to dot down. Jurie Mathee kicked the conversion and added an 80th-minute penalty to seal the win.
FNB UFS (50) vs FNB MATIES (28)
Lock Marco van Rhyn was shown a yellow card after FNB Maties were given a team warning for cynical play on their own tryline. FNB Shimlas didn’t hesitate to kick the resultant penalty to touch. They reset their formidable maul, and scored. Ndimande emerged from the pile of bodies and was credited with his third try of the evening. The flanker had an outstanding match at the set pieces and at the breakdowns, but was particularly potent with ball in hand. The Free State students lost their way in the third quarter, and conceded two yellow cards due to infringements on their own tryline.
FNB MATIES (37) vs FNB WITS (10)
FNB Maties scored five tries in their 37-10 win against FNB Wits at the Danie Craven Stadium. The hosts led 18-5 at half-time.
FNB MATIES (40) vs FNB UJ (38)
In Stellenbosch, FNB Maties survived a big scare when they fought back from 12-3 down to beat FNB UJ 40-38. Hooker Sean Swart scored two of his side’s four tries.
FNB CUT (19) vs FNB MATIES (52)
In wet and cold conditions in Bloemfontein, FNB Maties blew the FNB CUT Ixias away with a brilliant first-half performance that saw them score six tries to lead 47-0 at the break. Hooker Sean Swart crossed the line twice and went on to win the FNB Player That Rocks award. To their credit, the hosts showed far more fight in the second half, restricting their opponents to just one more try – wing Sibabalwe Xamlashe’s second – while scoring three themselves, including two from captain Luvuyo Ndevu.
FNB MATIES (20) vs FNB NWU (12)
FNB Maties rebounded from a poor start to beat the FNB NWU Eagles 20-12 in round six.
The contest was an arm-wrestle for much of the first quarter. Eagles captain Sampie Swiegers converted an early opportunity before the hosts responded with a converted try of their own through hooker Sean Swart. In the 25th minute, outside centre Waqar Solaan seized the initiative for his side when he broke the line and set up fullback Nevaldo Fleurs for a stunning try.
Fleurs slotted the conversion and then two subsequent penalties. Suddenly, FNB Maties were out to a commanding 20-7 lead.
FNB UCT (44) vs FNB MATIES (27)
The big Cape derby – as well the historic occasion – certainly lived up to the hype. In spite of cold and windy conditions on the Green Mile, both sides played the game at a lively tempo and dotted down for a point-of-origin try within the first 10 minutes. From there, the FNB Maties forwards began to impose themselves at the gainline.
Tighthead prop Vernon Matongo showed terrific skill and determination to finish a try shortly before half-time. A conversion and a subsequent penalty by fullback Nevaldo Fleurs ensured that the visitors went to the break with a 17-10 lead.
Just when it appeared as if FNB Maties might regain control, Hartzenberg received the ball in space and raced more than 50m to score a point-of-origin try. Koevort’s conversion propelled the hosts into an eight-point lead with eight minutes remaining. FNB Maties struggled to control possession in the dying stages. When FNB UCT received one final opportunity, however, Hartzenberg accelerated past the exhausted defenders to score his second try and seal the result.
FNB MATIES (61) vs FNB MADIBAZ (21)
In Stellenbosch, winger Marcqiewn Titus scored a hat-trick as FNB Maties thrashed the already-relegated FNB Madibaz 61-21. Two of Titus’ tries were seven-pointers. The hosts scored eight tries in total, with flyhalf Jurie Matthee and replacement loose forward Siya Matanda each grabbing a brace. Matthee also kicked seven conversions and a penalty goal to finish with a 27-point haul.
FNB MATIES (40) vs FNB UWC (31)
In Stellenbosch, FNB UWC gave FNB Maties a big fright before going down 40-31. Udubs made an impressive start to the match, with converted tries by flank Godfrey Muzanargwo and lock Jaen-Louis de Lange putting them 14-0 ahead after 13 minutes.
But FNB Maties hit back with two maul tries from hooker Sean Swart, the leading try-scorer in this year’s tournament (nine). Centre Taigh Schoor and replacement Jurie Matthee then crossed the line to give the hosts a 26-14 half-time lead. However, FNB UWC fought back brilliantly after the break, with scrumhalf Conwill Conradie scoring a seven-point try and centre Aydon Topley a five-pointer. A conversion and penalty from captain Lyle Hendricks then put them 31-28 up after 61 minutes.
But FNB Maties responded with another two tries, the last from replacement hooker Chris Rossouw with four minutes remaining.
SEMI FINAL FNB UCT (19) vs FNB MATIES (58)
Sean Swart scored a hat-trick as FNB Maties hammered the FNB UCT Ikeys 58-19. Swart equalled FNB CUT hooker Janus Venter’s record for the most tries in a FNB Varsity Cup season (12) and was named the FNB Player That Rocks.
That award could have gone to the entire FNB Maties pack that dominated at scrum time or to flyhalf Nevaldo Fleurs, who was successful with eight of 10 goal kicks in windy conditions. The Ikey Tigers came into this semi-final as favourites, having beaten their arch-rivals 44-27 in the round seven clash at the Green Mile.
And the visitors made their numerical advantage count with a fifth-minute point-of origin try. Wing Anton du Toit burst down the left touchline, handed off Suleiman Hartzenberg and found scrumhalf Thomas Bursey, whose inside pass put captain Gift Dlamini away. Maties regained the initiative when Swart scored from a lineout driving maul and fullback Sibabalwe Xamlashe dived over for a point-of-origin try. Fleurs slotted both conversions and a penalty to give the visitors a commanding 31-7 lead at half-time.
FNB UCT No 8 Taariq Kruger paid the price for repeated infringements by his team when he was yellow-carded early in the second half. Almost inevitably, FNB Maties kicked for the corner and Swart went over from the lineout driving the maul. The Ikey Tigers scored while down to 14 men through flank Sipho Dyonase, before Swart completed his hat-trick.
FNB Maties lost lock Juan Beukes to the sin bin, but that didn’t prevent them from scoring another two tries to complete the rout. The Maroon Machine will contest their 10th FNB Varsity Cup final next Monday and be chasing a record-extending sixth title.