UP Tuks-1 hosted bottom of the log CUT Ixias in a fifth round Varsity cup fixture on 9 March at the LC de Villiers sports grounds. Tuks went into this contest coming off a narrow loss to UFS Shimlas. Ixias were never really going to threaten the Pretoria outfit as they have proven to be somewhat of a liability in this year’s tournament. CUT had lost all of their previous fixtures, conceding a massive 227 points leading up to their meeting with Tuks.
Tuks immediately went on the offensive after kick-off as they crossed over for a try in the second minute after some sustained pressure broke the CUT defence. Blindside flank Jannes Kirsten crossed the try-line after receiving an offload from flyhalf Dewald Human. However, Human failed to extend the lead after missing the conversion attempt. Tuks were on the attack once more as Human set up Dayan van der Westhuizen for a try between the posts to give Tuks a 13-0 lead after a successful conversion. Tuks left wing Jermaine Kleinsmith looked to be out of sight as he ran for the try-line on a punishing 50 metre break, only to fumble the ball thanks to the attentions of CUT right winger Lethole Makoena.
Tuks continued their unrelenting attacking rugby after the first strategic break, winning a five metre lineout which they used to great effect and overpowering the CUT forwards to maul their way over the try-line. Tuks hooker Jaco Visagie got the try to widen the gap to 18-0. Chances came far and wide for CUT but they did manage to string some phases together, which allowed outside centre Dean Kouprihanoff to go on a surging run for the try-line. However Kouprihanoff was met by a stern tackle from the last line of defence, Jaques Rossouw, who tackled him into touch. Tuks continued to pile on the pressure, eventually getting a try courtesy of inside centre John Jackson, also resulting in the much anticipated bonus point. Tuks were eager to extend their lead, and they managed to score a try before halftime through left winger Kleinsmith. The speedy winger ripped right through the middle to dive between the posts after some neat interchanges by Tuks. Human had now found his rhythm as he nudged over the extra 3 points to make it 34-0 right before half-time.
CUT came out from the tunnel with a renewed mentality and their persistence was rewarded as they scored a try three minutes into the second half. This after flyhalf Duan Pretorius broke multiple tackles, forcing his way over the line and easily converting his own try. Tuks were quick to respond to that try as captain Wiaan Liebenberg dotted down for another try. Tuks loosehead prop Nqobisizwe Mxoli then showed some great footwork as he set up a well worked try for eighth man Clyde Davies. Human converted the try, helping Tuks to reach a 50-8 lead. Human once again proved to be the creative linchpin in the Tuks backline as he sent Daniel Kriel away for a try. Kriel bashed his way over the line giving Human the easiest of conversions. Tuks replacement hooker Jan Ensling grabbed a try in the 64th minute, and Human knocked over another conversion to extend the scoreline to 63-8.
Tuks pressed on for the remainder of the second half to no avail as they struggled to convert their superior phases into points. The CUT defence remained on lockdown as they looked to prevent any further widening of the scoreline. Tuks now find themselves tied at the top of the Varsity Cup standings, a superior point aggregate being the only thing keeping them above UFS Shimlas as both teams sit on 20 points apiece. A home semi-final is probably within reach for Tuks should they defeat UJ in their next fixture in Jo’burg.