UKZN took the 2015 Varsity Shield trophy beating Wits in a close game. After having lost two previous matches to Wits, it was third time’s a charm in the finals for the UKZN team.
PINK POWER: 2015 Varsity Shield winners, FNB UKZN players and coaches celebrating the with their gold medals and the trophy at Wits Stadium Monday night.
After a nail-biting final the University of KwaZulu-Natal rugby team beat Wits 24-29 taking home the 2015 Varsity Shield trophy at Wits stadium yesterday evening. With back and forth banter in ball possession for the first 15 minutes of the game, UKZN’s right flanker and captain scored- after which they were dominant throughout the match.
“It came down to the little details and maybe we just wanted it [the win] more,” said UKZN head coach Ryan Strudwick.
UKZN’s defense was impressive as it broke the Wits offensive line multiple times as they pushed forward to attempt tries. The winning team focused on their defence during the past week’s training as it has let them down in the last few games according to Strudwick.
“Obviously we are disappointed. Every final has pressure and we couldn’t handle it,” said Wits head coach Hugo van As.
With Wits losing plenty of balls in front of the try-line, Van As admitted there were many opportunities, but his players just couldn’t pull through.
UKZN captain and overall player of the tournament, Lwazi Ngcungana, said that his team won because they were much more clinical and switched-on in the game than their opponents.
“We were also motivated in the fact that we couldn’t lose three times to Wits in one tournament,” said Ngcungana.
The Wits team’s desperation to win led to many unnecessary mistakes in the last 20 minutes, until hooker Ferdinand Kelly, dropped over the try-line with two minutes of game time left. Still, this spark of good play came too late.
“We have a very young side and yet we had a good season. We just weren’t able to put our play into action tonight,” said Wits captain Richard Crossman.
SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER: FNB Wits standing side-by-side singing the national anthem before kick-off. Photo: Anlerie de Wet
FNB Wits gets closer to the finals, defeating FNB UKZN again, with a score of 40-26, after a tough game in the Rugby Varsity Shield cup, last night.
Wits scored the first try of the game within 10 minutes putting them in the lead by eight points.
UKZN did not back down and after a sloppy move from Wits their captain, Lwazi Ngcungama, leveled the scores when he was given a chance to score a penalty.
However, Wits scored another try shortly thereafter through their centre Marx Koch and just before half-time Ayabulela Mdudi gave Wits in a comfortable lead of 16 points when he scored Wits’s third try.
At the half-time break, Wits coach, Hugo van As said Wits was making a lot of mistakes, receiving a lot of yellow cards that could be avoided.
“We’ll cut down in our mistakes. A lot of penalties against us, a lot of discipline issues, not sure of the interpretation of the law… if we want to get continuity we would have to pick up on our discipline,” said the coach.
“It was a tough one…I think we showed them too much respect we let them come at us we didn’t play our game tonight,”
However, Wits was not the only team making mistakes as UKZN Coach, Ryan Strudwick also admitted that his team was struggling with defence, making the rest of the game a bit hard.
In the second half of the game, UKZN picked up its pace after a “stern talking” from their coach.
UKZN, toughened their defence and their handling, giving Wits a run for their place at the top. They [UKZN] were sitting on 21 points, putting them just 11 points behind, when Marius Louw scored a try. Siphatisene Dube’s try a few moments later brought them even closer to Wits, taking UKZN up to 26 points.
Wits closed the game a with Brandton Hewitt’s try followed by Tommy Damba’s conversion in the last 10 minutes of the game, Wits Captain, Richard Crossman admitted that they did not play to their “maximum” capacity.
“It was a tough one…I think we showed them too much respect we let them come at us we didn’t play our game tonight,” Crossman said.
Ngcungama said they played a “scrappy game” and was “really disappointed” as the captain of the team but hoped to do better so that they stand a chance to make it to the finals.
Wits hopes to not only have a place in the finale but to take the finals home while UKZN has to play and win against Fort Hare on March 30 to be guaranteed a place in the finals.