THE FNB NMMU Madibaz survived a few errors in the final 10 minutes to register a hat-trick of home wins in the Varsity Cup rugby competition with a 20-13 win over University of Johannesburg at the NMMU Stadium last night.
After leading 13-8 at halftime, the Madibaz scored a crucial try when replacement forward Ferdinand Gerber broke away from a maul and powered over in the 70th minute to take a 20-13 lead after flyhalf Justin van Staden's failed conversion.
But then they had to a withstand a fierce effort from UJ in the final 10 minutes as the visitors camped in the home side's 22m area, chasing a potentially match-winning try. With conversions worth three points in the Varsity Cup – penalties are two points – a converted try would have seen UJ snatch victory.
NMMU made life difficult for themselves, mainly when a penalty with 30 seconds remaining did not find touch and they had to withstand yet another UJ surge for the line.
But the Madibaz have shown outstanding commitment in defence throughout the competition and this again came to their rescue as they stood resolute, finally winning a penalty after the hooter had gone. This time, there was no mistake.
NMMU scored two tries in the first half through captain Roy Godfrey and hooker Martin Ferreira, both coming from powerful forward drives close to the UJ line.
Van Staden added a conversion and kicked a penalty in the second half to edge NMMU 15-13 ahead in the 59th minute.
UJ's tries came from a slick backline move in the 15th minute when wing JR Esterhuizen crossed and hooker Malcolm Marx touched down in the 52nd minute. Fullback Kobus de Kock added a conversion.
In Cape Town, Stellenbosch maintained their unbeaten run in the competition with a hard-fought 37-15 victory over UCT.
The win sees Maties keep their spot at the top of the Varsity Cup standings, while UCT are still looking for their first victory of the season.
Although the scoreline reflects a heavy defeat, the match was competitive until two late Maties tries saw them run away with a comfortable win.
In other results, Tukkies beat Wits 52-0 in Pretoria and Free State University beat Potch side Pukke 38-18 in Bloemfontein.