On a Monday night of surprises the Varsity Cup matches in Round 7 brought about the confirmation that UP-Tuks will have a home semi-final after comprehensively beating the NWU-Pukke 28-0 on their home ground.
There was also the unexpected that the Ixias are in the play-off picture after surprisingly beating the Shimlas in the Bloemfontein derby, and that the Ikey Tigers because of this result can mathematically still make the semi-finals despite losing to Wits
♦ In recent years there have been those that tried to deny the important influence of the forwards, the clamour for the abolishment of scrums has (thankfully!) been denied and there has been a cry for increased running rugby. And that is all understandable.
But UP-Tuks on Monday night defied all those cries for ‘change’ with a superior scrum, a better lineout and the quicker arrival at the breakdown as they hammered the NWU-Pukke at home to ensure a home semi-final, at least.
They played solid, pragmatic rugby and were easily the best team, as the scoreline suggests.
In fact, after narrowly missing relegation last year, the Tukkies now top the log with a better point differential than the Maties who have a match in hand. So it most probably will be Tukkies who are the runners-up as Maties are highly unlikely to falter twice in their remaining two matches.
There was little running until late in the second half. The best team won and Tuks have sealed their home semi-final after stretching their log lead over the third-placed Pukke to nine points.
♦ In one of the upsets of this year’s competition, lowly CUT Ixias on their home field, surprised the Shimlas 38-35 in their Bloemfontein derby.
That opened up the race for fourth place and a semi-final berth to the Ixias (14 log points), now just three points behind the Shimlas with the Ikeys (13) dropping back after their 29-30 loss against Wits (11 points), although both these adversaries on Monday might still have a (unrealistic) mathematical chance of making the play-offs.
♦ The Wits win was in itself a bit of a surprise, but not as much as the defeat of UJ who were beaten by this season’s newcomers UWC. They recorded their first win at the UWC Sports Grounds with a comprehensive 29-17 scoreline.