PLAYING sizzling “rocking rugby” a rampant Madibaz team got their FNB Varsity Cup programme off to the best possible start when they thrashed the much-vaunted Maties 45-29 at the NMMU Stadium last night.
Five memorable tries from irrepressible flank Christopher Cloete set the tone for what will go down as one of the biggest moments in Madibaz history. Fielding a side that included nine new backline players, the Madibaz produced a stunning display that has sent out an early signal they are major contenders for honours this season.
A decisive win over the “Maroon Machine” was a major scalp for the Madibaz and will have boosted morale in the team which is now being coached by former EP Kings coach David Maidza.
The Madibaz made a strong start to the game and were rewarded for their efforts in the fourth minute when Cloete crashed over the Maties tryline after a driving maul following a lineout.
In the 14th minute the Madibaz scored an almost identical try after Stefan Willemse won possession in the lineout and Cloete was on hand to score his second try.
This time flyhalf Gavin Hauptfleisch succeeded with the conversion to give the Madibaz a deserved early 13-0 lead, to the delight of the crowd.
Stung by the second try the Maties suddenly found their feet and gained some much-needed momentum as they started to put pressure on the home defence. The Maties thought they were over for a try after 24 minutes, but TV replays showed the ball had not been grounded. Despite sustained attack on their line, the Madibaz managed to hold the visitors at bay.
Madibaz No8 Tim Agaba then broke free to weave his way past a succession of Maties defenders who were left chasing shadows in his wake. It was a brilliant effort by the powerful Agaba, who has a become a key member of the Madibaz side.
Hauptfleisch rubbed further salt in the Maties’ wounds by nailing the conversion to leave the home team with a commanding 21-0 lead at halftime.
The Maties were left to regret a number of poor decisions when on attack against a Madibaz side that was clearly out to prove an early point.
The writing was on the wall for the Maties eight minutes into the second half when Cloete crossed for his third try after another driving maul. And he was at it again when he drove his way through the Maties for a fourth.
There were tries for the Maties for Mark Hodgskiss (2), Clearance Khumalo and Renier Ehlers, but they could not stem the tide for the visitors.
In recent times Port Elizabeth has become a fortress with the Madibaz being unbeaten here last year, including victories over defending champions UP-Tuks, UJ and UFS-Shimlas.
Last year the Maties were fortunate to win both encounters (13-8 and 16-15 in the semifinal) against the Madibaz, who were determined to end the losing sequence last night.
Madibaz: Tries: Christopher Cloete (5), Tim Agaba, Conversions: Gavin Hauptfleisch (5).
Maties: Tries: Mark Hodgskiss (2), Clearance Khumalo, Renier Ehlers. Conversions: Robert Du Preez (2), Chris Smith.