NMMU and UCT battled to a 5-5 draw to share the honours in the Monte Taljaard Trophy encounter in the opening round of the FNB Varsity Cup rugby tournament in Cape Town last night.
The Madibaz played with the wind in the first half, but it was the Ikeys who took a slender 5-0 lead into the break.
However, the visitors showed great character to come up with a try of their own to hold the Tigers to a draw on their home track.
The opening round got off to a flying start with defending champions UP-Tuks going down to NWU-Pukke in a thrilling match in Potchefstroom. The home side dominated the early exchanges, scoring three tries on their way to a comfortable 24-0 advantage at halftime, but UP-Tuks showed the kind of fighting spirit that won them the title last year to claw their way back into the game, scoring four tries of their own in the second half before finally losing 26-23.
Earlier, three-time champions Maties got their campaign off to a solid start with a 29-8 win over University of Johannesburg.
Wits were given a tough Varsity Cup initiation when they went down 61-7 to a rampant UFS Shimlas side in front of their home fans in Johannesburg. Meanwhile, in the Varsity Shield the Fort Hare Blues scored a bonus-point try at the death to seal a 32-6 victory over former Varsity Cup outfit TUT Vikings in Alice.
The loss leaves the Vikings without a win in their first three Varsity Shield matches and they face a tough task bouncing back after a nightmare start to the competition.
In Pietermaritzburg, the UKZN Impi suffered their first defeat of the season when they went down 26-12 to the CUT Ixias, who top the log as the only unbeaten team in the competition.