Thankfully we had one real, very decent and tough semi-final in the 2019 Varsity Cup semi-finals where both teams were in the run until the very last minute and another where, despite the runaway win, the losers played their hearts outs. And it will be a final at Stellenbosch between old foes Maties and Tuks
It was a much better semi-final night than last year’s when the Pukke scored eight tries in their semi-final against UJ and the Maties scored ten in theirs against Wits with both winners putting more than 60 points on the board.
♦ On Monday night Tuks, at home, beat the Pukke who were probably a little unfortunate to lose 18-24 after the were 0-13 down only after 23 minutes with Tukkies playing some outstanding rugby in the first quarter. The Potchefstroom students fought their way back into the scrap, were overall dominant up front and with most of the possession also asked questions as they increasingly started dominating territory.
Pukke did most of the running and won the breakdown battle, Tuks did most of the tackling and, because of the pressure, conceded 11 penalties to six.
Tinus de Beer, captain and flyhalf of Tuks, was outstanding. Even with less possession he controlled play and was the difference between the two sides.
Exciting and very, very hard and uncompromising it was indeed. It wasn’t, however, altogether a good match with too many errors spoiling it to call it that. But it was a full-blooded and exciting semi-final with only four tries, two each, being scored.
What more could one ask for?
♦ At Stellenbosch Maties won the other semi-final 47-5 against the Shimlas. The score suggests it was one-sided and it was. However, with much lesser talent one cannot fault the Bloemfontein side for effort and guts, especially in the first half against a Maties team that scored only three of their seven tries before halftime.
However, no side can be asked to make 230 tackles and remain in contention. Missing only 26 of those was proof of the Shimlas commitment, but the onslaught was overwhelming.
It was a good run by the Maties who weren’t given the victory on a plate by an outplayed Free State side. However, there were glimpses of the Maties overall quality and Tuks will have their work cut out in next week’s final in Stellenbosch.