Wits walked away empty handed at home after a crushing 53-8 loss against UP-Tuks, (University of Pretoria), on Monday night.
It was a disappointing loss as Wits struggled to establish themselves in a match reminiscent of the club’s poor performance in last year’s competition. The team finished last on the log in the 2013 season after failing to win a single match.
Wits started off on a high note, scoring the first try of the match within the first five minutes, thanks to scrumhalf, Matt Torrence.
Tuks equalised two minutes later with a try by Wiaan Liebenberg. Former junior Springbok, Dries Swanepoel put Tuks in the lead with another try within minutes of the first. Missing the second conversion, the score stood at 8-13 to Tuks, 15 minutes into the game.
Wits clearly lacked discipline and made some silly mistakes, handing over penalties and helping Tuks gain ground towards the try line where Swanepoel scored his second try of the match plus a cleared conversion. At half-time Tuks lead with 21-8.
At half-time, the filled-to-capacity Wits Rugby Stadium were entertained by the Wits cheerleaders who now boast two male members.
During the second half, Wits upped their defence preventing Tuks from scoring as they made a playfor the close to the try line. At almost an hour onto the game, Tuks managed to push through with Swanepoel scoring his third try for his team, leading 29-8 after a successful conversion.
Tuks’ Swanepoel received a yellow card for a high tackle on fly half, Ashlon Davids. However, the officials seemed to have made a mess of things as Tuks continued with a 15 man team.
A further three tries were scored by Tuks captain ,Reniel Hugo followed by wing, Jade Stighling and replacement for Swanepoel, Leneve Damens scored the last try of the night, finalizing the scoreboard at 52-8.
Tuks, last year’s Varsity Cup champions, admittedly were surprised by Wits’ effort. Man of the match, Swanepoel said: “It was tougher than we thought it would be. Wits came in very hard but unfortunately it was our night.”
Wits coach, Andy Royle went into the game with only five members from last years’ final Varsity Cup match against UCT. A number of players did not meet Wits’ academic requirements and therefore have restrictions on their playing time. Royle was hoping his team would make a comeback after last year, but the lack of experienced players in the Wits side is going to make things tricky for the rest of the season.