It was mixed fortunes for the two Bloemfontein teams in the Varsity Cup on Monday during the second round of the competition. The University of the Free State Shimlas claimed a second consecutive bonus point win, while the Central University of Technology Ixias fell just short.
The Ixias opened their campaign on Monday following a first round bye, and came rather close to a winning start against the University of Cape Town Ikeys at the Green Mile in the Mother City. At one stage, the match was locked at 12-12 and went right down to the wire, which saw Rayno Mapoe carrying the ball the length of the field to score the winning try for the men in blue-and-white hoops.
While it was a disappointing start for the Ixias, it was valuable experience for the team, seeing that just six players in the young squad have faced the two-time champions in the past. While the loss was disappointing, the team, which is now under the guidance of the former Springbok and Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, can be proud of their performance in the trying conditions.
Liebenberg told Courant that there is a lot to look forward to as his team are building experience.
“We’re a bit disappointed at the loss, but I think we did well,” said the coach. “For the first outing for some of these players at UCT and with the wind being the way it was, we did really well. I felt that we could have won the game.
“We are on the right track and we want to work on the finishing. We were in their 22 for quite some time in the second half and we just couldn’t score. All-in-all I’m happy, I’m just disappointed that we could’nt pull the game through.”
The Ixias travel again next week to face their old foe, the University of the Witswatersrand, a team they have come against in the Varsity Shield, however, the Cup is a whole different kettle on fish.
By contrast, the Shimlas have gone to the top of the standings following their 47-29 drubbing of the University of Johannesburg in an away game. The Shimlas scored six tries as they beat the Jo’burg side in convincing style for back-to-back wins.
The scoreline is slightly deceiving as Shimlas finished the match with just 11 players on the field, while 4 players saw the game out in the cooler box due to a flurry of yellow cards. This allowed the hosts to come back into the game.
While ill-discipline could have spelt disaster for the side through unnesscary pressure, they did well to hold their opponents at bay and go into their first home game next week unbeaten.
The Shimlas coach, the former Springbok and Cheetahs flank, Hendro Scholtz, told Courant that apart from the discipline, he is happy with the points. “I’m obviously happy with the win and the five points,” said Scholtz.
“In the last ten to fifteen minutes our discipline let us down a bit. A lot of soft penalties were conceded and the yellow cards made it difficult to defend. We’re really looking forward to our first home game next week and the home crowd in Bloemfontein coming to support us.”
The Shimlas host the Ikeys next week Monday at Shimla Park with kick-off in the untelevised game at 18:30. – MORGAN PIEK