UP Tuks in opening Varsity Cup draw
FNB UFS-Shimlas fought back to earn a thrilling 29-29 draw with FNB UP-Tuks in their FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International clash in Bloemfontein.
Both teams scored four tries and three conversions to claim three log points each for their efforts in a highly intense match which saw momentum swing constantly.
UP-Tuks were first to score when fullback Riaan Britz broke through the UFS-Shimlas defence, but the hosts were back on level terms soon afterwards as No.8 Neill Jordaan crossed for a try after getting a flick pass from his captain AJ Coertzen.
The visitors were back in front just after the first strategy break when wing Duncan Matthews ran 60 metres to score against the run of play, with the easy conversion from flyhalf Josh Stander making it 16-8.
UFS-Shimlas responded just before half-time as a strong line-out drive saw flank Gerhard Olivier crash over for a try, but the conversion was missed from the touchline so UP-Tuks took a slender 16-13 lead into the break.
They extended that lead early in the second half as centre Ryan Nell got over in the right corner, and Stander's touchline conversion made it 24-13.
The visitors had the bonus point wrapped up shortly afterwards through a long-range try from Dan Kriel, but UFS-Shimlas were right back in it at the second strategy break thanks to a try from wing Maphuta Dolo which made it 29-21.
It was not long before the home side managed to draw level as replacement prop Conrad van Vuuren crashed over, with the conversion from Marais making it 29-29 with 15 minutes to play.
That set up a tense finish but there was no separating the teams in the end as they played out a thrilling draw which saw them both take three log points.
For FNB UFS-Shimlas:
Tries: Jordaan, Olivier, Dolo, Van Vuuren
Con: Marais 3
For FNB UP-Tuks:
Tries: Britz, Matthews, Nell, Kriel
Cons: Stander 3
FNB UFS-Shimlas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Vuyani Maqina, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Maphutha Dolo, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Niel Claassen, 4 Nicolaas Immelman, 3 Chase Morison, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Hennie-Schalk Theron. Replacements: 16 Marco Klopper, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Boela Venter, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane, 21 Stefan Janse van Rensburg, 22 JP Coetzee, 23 Conraad Van Vuuren.
FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Riaan Britz, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Daniel Kriel, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Jermaine Kleinsmith, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 André Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg (captain), 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Neethling Fouché, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Juan Schoeman. Replacements: 16 Jan Enslin, 17 Nqobisiswe Mxoli, 18 Dennis Visser, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Dewald Human, 22 John Jackson, 23 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Referees: Lesego Legoete, Jaco Pretorius