Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Shimlas crowned Varsity Cup champs after beating Ikeys in final

In the match Shimlas outscored Ikeys six tries to five, but it was the visitors that got off to a flyer to take a good early lead.

The University of the Free State Shimlas were crowned Varsity Cup champions after clinching a thrilling 45-42 win over the University of Cape Town Ikey Tigers in the final at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein on Monday night.

Shimlas flyhalf Ethan Wentzel was the hero, striking a penalty after the fulltime hooter to seal an incredible come from behind win after a fantastic back and forth match entertained the crowd throughout.

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In the match Shimlas outscored Ikeys six tries to five, but it was the visitors that got off to a flyer to take a good early lead after just eight minutes.

First on attack in Shimlas 22m, the ball was popped to hooker Keagan Blanckenberg, with him throwing a dummy, handing off a defender and then powering over to score, as left wing Ntokozo Makhaza slotted the conversion.

Their second also saw Ikeys in Shimlas 22m, with scrumhalf Asad Moos chipping the ball perfectly for inside centre Jonathan Roche to field and score, with Makhaza putting them 14-0 up.

Slow start

Shimlas were slow to find their feet but finally responded eight minutes later as a superb move saw them break into the Ikeys 22m, before a couple of offloads ended with scrumhalf Jandre Nel scoring.

The hosts were soon back in Ikeys 22m in the 19th minute, with the ball going through the hands before hooker Liyema Mgwigwi crashed over, with Wentzel converting to make it 14-12.

Shimlas were now in the ascendancy, but with them on attack on Ikeys 22m with an overlap, visiting right wing Rethabile Louw made a crucial intercept and streaked away to score a point of origin try (seven point try started in own half), with Makhaza’s extras putting them into a 23-12 lead.

Makhaza added a 31st minute penalty from distance to extend their lead, but Shimlas hit back five minutes later as Nel turned provider, breaking from a ruck on the 22m, before passing to inside centre Gideon Nel, who in turn found Wentzel to score, with him converting to make it 26-19.

The back-and-forth game continued as Ikeys scored their fourth, attacking from a scrum in Shimlas half, with the ball spread for fullback Duran Koevort to break the line and get over for a converted score.

The hosts however made sure they would go into the break hot on the visitor’s heels, after Ikeys lock Johan van Rhyn was yellow carded for bringing down their maul after the halftime hooter.

Shimlas set up the lineout again and this time powered the maul over for eighthman Kwezi Dlamini to dot down, with Wentzel’s extras bringing them back in range with the halftime score 31-26.

Struck first

Shimlas struck first in the 2nd half to take the lead for the first time, as the impressive Nel took a quick tap near the halfway, sprinted to the Ikeys 22m where he chipped over the last defender and fielded it to score, with Wentzel’s conversion giving them a two point lead.

A second penalty from Makhaza inched Ikeys back ahead, but Shimlas responded straight away in the 53rd minute as they started an attack in their own half, worked their way into the visitors 22m before the ball was spread to right wing Siviwe Zondani to go in for the point of origin score.

Wentzel slotted the conversion to put them 42-34 to the good, but five minutes later another Makhaza penalty made it a five point game going into the final quarter.

With time ticking away Ikeys then levelled the scores in the 78th minute as they setup a lineout deep in Shimlas 22m, set the maul and powered over for replacement hooker Johan Lombard to score, but with the conversion missed the scores were locked at 42-all leading to the breathless finish.


UFS Shimlas: Tries – Jandre Nel (2), Liyema Mgwigwi, Ethan Wentzel, Kwezi Dlamini, Siviwe Zondani; Conversions – Wentzel (5); Penalty – Wentzel

UCT Ikey Tigers: Tries – Keagan Blanckenberg, Jonathan Roche, Rethabile Louw, Duran Koevort, Johan Lombard; Conversions – Ntokozo Makhaza (3); Penalties – Makhaza (3)

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