Shimlas secure home semi

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The Shimlas scrumhalf, Jandré 'Smiley' Nel, scored one of the team's tries against the Maties in Stellenbosch. PHOTO: LUIGI BENNETT

The University of the Free State Shimlas have managed to secure a home semi-final in the 2023 Varsity Cup with an outstanding performance on Monday night against the University of Stellenbosch Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium.

The Shimlas booked a home semi-final in the tournament for a second year running, with an outstanding 44-12 drubbing of the Maties in Coetzenburg.

The Class of 2023 became the first Shimlas team to beat the five-time champions in their own back yard, with their previous best performance being a 13-13 draw some nine years ago in 2014.

The winger Marcqiewn Titus and centre Waqar Solaan scored for the Maties in the first half. However, the team from Bloemfontein struck back with two point-of-origin tries by the scrumhalf Jandré Nel and the captain Thabang Mahlasi for a 18-12 lead at half time.

In the second stanza, the 2015 champions scored 26 unanswered points. This was courtesy of the fiery flanker, Lourens Oosthuizen, dotting down for a brace of seven-point tries for a second week in a row.

Further tries by the winger Siviwe Zondani and the scrumhalf Chadd Adams ended any chance of the hosts winning the game.

The Shimlas coach, André Tredoux, told Bloemfontein Courant that his team has started peaking at just the right time.

“The boys are gelling as a team and that is quite important, said Tredoux.

“We worked quite hard in the first part of the season so that we are ready towards the end and that has worked quite well for us. But, having said that, we have achieved nothing yet and we are going to work hard this week.

“Hopefully we will do well in the semi-final at home.”

The win did come at a heavy price for the Shimlas with the big centre, Jooste Nel, sustaining concussion in the game and he is expected to miss out on the semi-final. Since his return from an injury, Nel has made a massive difference in the midfield of the Shimlas and he has been hugely instrumental in their recent form.

Meanwhile, over at CUT Park in Bloemfontein, the University of Cape Town Ikeys took no prisoners as they thrashed the Central University of Technology Ixias 79-31. This win booked their spot in the semi-finals and they will travel to Bloemfontein again to face the Shimlas in the semi-finals.

For the Ixias the defeat was a massive blow to what was up until then an outstanding season. They will now have to face the NMMU Madibaz in the promotion-relegation game. – MORGAN PIEK