The University of the Free State Shimlas made a huge statement on Monday evening by beating the defending Varsity Cup champions, the University of Pretoria Tuks, 19-17 in Pretoria.
The matched kicked off in heavy rain and it was a slugfest between the two sides, with neither really impressing their handling due to the wet weather. The hosts were the first to cross the line, however, the try by Dewald Naude was disallowed after the referee and TMO deemed that he was in front Tinus de Beer when he delivered a pinpoint cross-kick.
De Beer did send another accurate cross-kick to the other side of the field a couple of minutes later for the left winger, Xolisa Guma, to score.
Some six minutes later the Shimlas back-line moved properly for the first time in the game to send the speedster, Francois Agenbag, over for a seven-point try, which earned the team nine points following an outstanding conversion by the flyhalf, Lubabalo Dobela.
This allowed the side from Bloemfontein to lead 9-5 at the half time break.
Six minutes into the second stanza, Shimlas opened an 11 point cushion when the fiery flanker, Benji Jansen van Rensburg, crashed over for a well-deserved try. Dobela impressed once more with a conversion splitting the uprights from the touchline.
Tuks were the first team in the competition to make use of the new power play which sees two of the opposition back-line players being sent off the field for a period of three minutes. It backfired on the hosts and it was actually the visitors who got the better of the power play thanks to a penalty by Dobela to extended the lead to 14 points.
The Shimlas power play didn’t fare any better and in fact, just as was the case with Tuks, they too knocked the ball from the first move in the period. The only difference was that Tuks were able to earn points.
Tuks got back into the match when the Shimlas replacement tighthead, Janu Botha, was binned for cynical play, and the hosts were able to make use of the numerical advantage with the centre Toko Seerane powering his way over for the try.
The captain, Denzel Hill, went over for the try on the stroke of full time following a strong Tuks scrum, however, it was only good enough to earn a bonus point.
The Shimlas were able to handle the pressure than their counterparts, and ultimately this proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Dobela, who was one of 11 Shimlas debutants, was named as the player that rocks, and this lad has a really bright future indeed.
Tuks: Try – Xolisa Guma, Toko Seerane, Denzel Hill Conv.- Tinus de Beer.
Shimlas: Try – Francois Agenbag (7 point), Benji Jansen van Rensburg Conv. – Lubabalo Dobela 2 Pen.- Dobela. – MORGAN PIEK