April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
As a Matie old boy I was not sure if I cared much for the final of the 2011 Varsity Cup. I had very little to do last night so I thought I might as well watch the game. The game turned out to be the best final of the four played. I had no real loyalty to any of the teams so I really did not mind who won, as long as I was entertained… and I was! It was a different enjoyment to the previous three Finals the Maties won because I was not emotionally involved and could look at both teams’ play objectively.
The cliché, it’s a game of two halves, was so true. But more than a game of two halves, it was a game of four teams. The Iteys stormed into a 7 -0 lead with only 3 minutes on the board but after that they never seemed to do much else in the first half. They were conceding penalty after penalty and I had this sick feeling that Iteys could end up being the ‘chokers of the Varsity Cup’.
Their lineouts were terrible. The hooker, Page, could not buy a jumper. Either he did not hear the calls or he did not know the calls. With two outstanding lineout locks the forward outfit looks very average and Tuks, or rather their star flyhalf and captain, Dunlop, kicked for the corners successfully and then the forwards disrupted the UCT through-ins.
They Tuks game plan looked more successful and better executed than that of the Iteys. They seemed to have a plan build around their big forward pack. They dominated in set phases and also rucks and mauls. Iteys on the other hand seemed to panic a bit and seem slightly disjointed. They gave away a lot of penalties and at one stage I thought the referee was going to pull out a card. Iteys’ scramble defence saved them from falling behind further in the first half.
So at half time and a six point deficit, Iteys needed to pull up their socks or go home empty handed again. Tuks just needed to do what they did in the first half and the first time finalist would take the trophy and the lovely cheque of R 250 000.00.
As you all know by now that was not the case. Iteys lifted their game and played much smarter at the rucks, not over committing players and rather get more guys on their feet and wait for the mistakes. Less one-off runner made it harder for the big men from Tuks to cause turnovers. And they soon turned the tables on the men from Pretoria, who were now giving away an alarming amount of stupid penalties.
Tuks did not seem to come out of the changing rooms the same men that went in. Their game plan seemed to disintegrate and execution was poor. Dunlop seemed to try and be the hero too often and seemed almost predictable. He is a very good player and someone to look at for the future, but the second half was not his best The Tuks backline was wasting a lot off ball. The big men like Zulu, Jono Ross and some others worked hard but to no avail. Iteys found their rhythm and were firing on all systems. Their lineouts started to come together and at time even held their scrums. Quick ball from behind the rucks and fast back made life for Tuks difficult.
In the end Tuks paid the price for going for the tries instead of the easy three points. With 5minutes to play and two scores away, going for a lineout instead of the three points was a bad decision. The Iteys defence held them out for 18+ phases and 6 or 7 minutes of nail biting action.
The Itey Tigers end the 2011 Varsity Cup as champions and well done to them.
Next year though, Maties will be champions again…