The FNB Maties hooker Rob Herring scored a hat-trick as the Men in Maroon kept their top spot on the Varsity Cup log with a convincing 42-26 victory over FNB NMMU in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
The Maties had the Madibaz under pressure from the start with their dominant scrum and had the lion’s share of both territory and possession throughout the match.
The Men from Stellenbosch showed exactly why they are the only unbeaten side in the 2012 competition with a powerful performance and simply did not let NMMU into the contest.
However, NMMU struck late in the game and ran in four late tries to snatch a bonus point and give their vocal fans something to cheer.
The Maties pack rumbled forward and were rewarded in the first half with a brace of tries for Herring after periods of sustained pressure and well-executed rolling mauls off attacking line-outs.
Just before the halftime break big prop Os Hamman powered over the line for a try to give the visitors a healthy 18-0 lead.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half for the Madibaz, as Maties centre Wessel Coetzee twice burst through holes in the NMMU defence to score two tries, that secured the bonus point and took the match out of reach for the home side.
Herring then completed his hat-trick after more hard work from the Maties pack and after 60 minutes it had been one-way traffic with the visiting Maties leading by 42-0.
Suddenly the Madibaz rediscovered the form that has seen the Port Elizabeth side defeat both the Shimlas and Ikeys this season, when Jaco Otto broke from the back of a maul to score.
NMMU fullback Martin du Toit then found a gap in the Maties defence and created a try for replacement Carl van Niekerk, and out of nowhere NMMU had crept back up to 13-42.
A high tackle on Otto from Reniel Hugo, saw the Maties replacement lock sent to the sin bin for the final ten minutes of the match. Otto had to leave the field with what was suspected to be a concussion.
The Madibaz added two more tries from Timothy Agaba and Van Niekerk to steal a four-try bonus point right at the end to complete a top-class final 15 minutes, having been utterly outplayed in the first 65.
For FNB NMMU:
Tries: Otto, Van Niekerk 2, Agaba
Cons: Du Toit 2
For the FNB Maties:
Tries: Herring 3, Hamman, Coetzee 2
Cons: Kemp 3, Smith
NMMU: 15 Martin du Toit, 14 Mayibuye Ndwandwa, 13 Quinton Crocker (vice-captain), 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Eckard Jacobs, 10 Bradley Kretzman, 9 Charlie Purdon, 8 Jaco Swanepoel (captain), 7 André Goosen, 6 Ulrich Pretorius, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Ross David-Anderson, 2 Kobus Greeff, 1 Dexter Fahey.
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Roy Godfrey, 18 Timothy Agaba, 19 Jaco Otto, 20 Marlin Ruiters, 21 Carl van Niekerk, 22 Devon Lailvaux, 23 Gareth Hartley.
Maties: 15 André Smith, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Wessel Coetzee, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Dean Hammand, 10 André Kemp, 9 Boela Abrahams, 8 JP Swanepoel, 7 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 6 Sam Mabombo, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Brummer Badenhorst.
Replacements: 16 Alfred Ries, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Nicholas de Jager, 20 Donald Stevens, 21 Jarryd Buys, 22 Clearance Khumalo, 23 Hein van der Merwe.
Referee: Joey Salmans