FNB Tuks displayed a powerful defensive effort to hand them a well-deserved bonus-point 43-8 victory over FNB UJ at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Monday.
FNB Tuks needed this win. After suffering three consecutive defeats in the opening three rounds of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, nothing less than a convincing win would have worked for the men from Pretoria. In contrast, FNB UJ were coming off three consecutive wins and were looking to remain undefeated after four rounds. However, a try by FNB Tuks in as early as the fifth minute suggested it was going to be easier said than done.
Rain before kickoff meant that an expansive game would be difficult to execute effectively, and it would be the team that kicked out-of-hand the best would likely end on the right side of the scoreboard. FNB Tuks adapted to the conditions the best, with superb defence and tactical kicking outplaying a FNB UJ outfit that struggled to hold onto the ball in the wet conditions.
FNB Tuks couldn’t have started the game better, with a great kick leading to an FNB Tuks lineout on FNB UJ’s five-metre line. The Pretoria men made it count, scoring the match’s opening try moments later through a strong rolling maul.
The weather continued to disadvantage FNB UJ as early knock-ons and slipped tackles limited their attacking opportunities. FNB Tuks continued to apply pressure through well-placed kicking, which produced a penalty in the 17th minute. Joshua Stander stepped up to add the three points.
A malfunctioning lineout added to FNB UJ’s woes as FNB Tuks scored one of the tries of the season. Great hands, despite the conditions, produced a magnificent nine-point try. The subsequent conversion opened up a 16-point gap between the two sides after 20-minutes. Six minutes later, FNB Tuks showcased their defence as they shut down a FNB UJ maul to maintain their lead.
The remainder of the first half was dominated by reset scrums as neither side was able to gain ascendency on the wet pitch. FNB Tuks continued to be strong on defence, resisting several attacking runs by FNB UJ. FNB Tuks let a few opportunities go a begging themselves, but were able to add three more points through a penalty just before halftime.
FNB UJ started the second half well with their first try of the match in the 43rd minute, but that would be the first and last time FNB Tuks’ defence would be exposed. The Pretoria side would continue to play the conditions, using their superior lineout and kicking to create opportunities to score.
FNB Tuks’, Aston Fortuin, seized one such opportunity by taking a quick tap close to FNB UJ’s line to score their third try. Stander would miss the conversion, but it would have little effect on the game as their fourth try in the 67th minute all but handed FNB Tuks their first win of the season.
One last try in the 78th minute rubbed salt into the wound for FNB UJ and closed off an emphatic result for FNB Tuks as they recorded a comfortable 43-8 victory.
Ultimately, it was FNB Tuks’ strong defence, superior lineout and ability to adapt to the conditions that handed them their first win of the season and FNB UJ’s first defeat. Highlighting just how quickly a team’s fortunes can change.
FNB Player That Rocks: Corniel Els (FNB Tuks)
FNB UJ: Five-points tries: Johannes Snyman. Pens: Divan Nel.
FNB Tuks: Nine-point tries: Andre Warner. Five-points tries: Corniel Els, Aston Fortuin, Duncan Matthews, Marco van Staden. Cons: Joshua Stander (4). Pens: Joshua Stander (2)
FNB UJ: 15 Ronald Brown, 14 Peter John Walters, 13 Bradley Moolman, 12 Robert De Bruyn, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Hilton Mudariki, 8 Jakobus Porter, 7 Kyle van Dalen, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 FP Pelser, 4 Jeremy Jordaan, 3 Nico Du Plessis, 2 Johannes Snyman, 1 Siyakubonga Nzuzo. Replacements: 16 Emmanuel Morowane, 17 Kyle Kruger, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Phenyo Seriteng, 20 Devon Mare, 21 Kobus Engelbrecht, 22 Godfrey Ramaboea, 23 Waldo Weideman
FNB Tuks: 15 Riaan Britz, 14 Keanan van Wyk, 13 Duncan Matthews, 12 Toko Maebane, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Frederik Eksteen, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Aston Fortuin, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel. Replacements: 16 Jan Enslin, 17 Du Toit Genis, 18 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Carlo Engelbrecht, 21 Quid Langeveldt, 22 Max Calitz, 23 Justin Forwood