FNB UCT scored 23 points in 12 minutes to secure their place in next year’s FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, with a 40-5 victory over FNB UWC in Stellenbosch on Monday.
FNB UCT, having gone winless in seven rounds of the Varsity Cup, found themselves in a do-or-die clash against FNB UWC – who ended second in the Varsity Shield. The winner would have gained entrance into next year’s expanded Varsity Cup, while the loser would have to fight it out in the Varsity Shield.
The opening 15 minutes of the match were evenly contested between the two sides, but that quickly changed. FNB UCT used their impressive lineout to score two five-point tries through strong ball-carrying from their forwards in the 15th and 21st minute respectively. FNB UCT flyhalf, Thomas Bednall, converted both to give his side a 14-0 lead.
FNB UCT continued to use their strong forwards to build momentum, scoring a nine-point try in the 27th minute. The missed conversion meant little as FNB CUT raced to a 23-0 lead in a mere 12 minutes of play. But FNB UWC responded well in the 40th minute with a try of their own, meaning they went into halftime with five-points on the board and plenty of momentum.
FNB UWC came back in the second half with more confidence, but were stalled when they were reduced to 14 men in the 43rd minute. Despite the setback, FNB UWC would have been happy to be restored to a full contingent without leaking a single point.
FNB UWC would continue to dominate the match, but a lack of support and poor defence of the ball at the breakdown meant they failed to capitalise. Even when FNB UCT lost a player to the Afkoelstoel, FNB UWC failed to make their advantage count.
When FNB UCT were restored to 15 men themselves, they regained the momentum they had in the first half, scoring two tries in the 64th and 72nd minute. The conversion of the second try gave FNB UCT a 35-5 lead with eight minutes to play – putting the result beyond doubt. An 80th minute try only rubbed salt into the wound, with the missed conversion meaning the final score was 40-5.
FNB UCT will not reflect on this season with fondness, but they showed true character to win their last game of the season and show they deserve to remain in the Varsity Cup.
FNB Player That Rocks: Mark Prior (FNB UCT)
FNB UCT: 40
Nine-point tries: Lihleli Xoli
Five-point tries: Alva Senderayi, Keagan Timm, Dylan-Lee Tidbury, Luke Stringer, Robert Anderson
Cons: Thomas Bednall (2), Robert Anderson
FNB UWC: 5
Five-point tries: Lubabalo Faleni