Shimlas too strong in Bloem derby

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The Shimlas loose forward, Ruwald van der Merwe, with one of several strong ball carries. He can consider himself unlucky not to have score one of the Shimlas eight tries in their 48-27 win the Ixias at CUT Park. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The University of the Free State Shimlas finally have the proverbial monkey off their backs after winning their Varsity Cup derby against the Central University of Technology Ixias in Bloemfontein on Monday night.

The Shimlas won the hugely popular Bloemfontein derby at CUT Park 48-27 in what was their third straight win of their 2022 campaign, and more importantly it was their first win over their city rivals since 2018.

The Ixias were out of the blocks first and raced to a 10-0 lead with the captain, Luvuyo Ndevu, scoring the first try of the match. It took a full 31 minutes for the Shimlas to get on the scoreboard and it was their captain, Thabang Mahlasi, who led from the front by scoring a try next to the posts.

From then on out, the Shimlas dominated that stop-start affair, but the Ixias mounted a comeback attempt in the latter stages of the game. Despite the late surge by the hosts, the Shimlas eight tries to the three of the Ixias proved to be a bridge too far.

The bonus point win for the Shimlas was their third in a row this season and placed them comfortably at the top of the table on 15 points. They are also the only remaining unbeaten team in the competition.

The Shimlas coach, André Tredoux, told Bloemfontein Courant that the derby win was of final importance as it falls in line with their plans to rejuvenate the culture of the club that has produced the most Springboks in South Africa.

“A lot of the old Shimla boys came over to CUT and we’re trying to fix that by creating a really great culture and enjoyable environment so that won’t happen in future,” said the wily tactician.

“Credit to them, though; they have done well in terms of recruitment in recent times. The Shimlas stood up tonight and showed a lot of character, which was pleasing for me.”

For the Ixias there will be some soul searching ahead of their next game, which will take place in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), when they face the bottom-of-the-log Madibaz on Monday night. Despite what the score line suggested on Monday evening, they showed what they are capable of and it is a matter of things falling into place.

The Shimlas have a tricky away fixture this coming weekend when they travel to Johannesburg to face the ever-dangerous Wits. – MORGAN PIEK