Michael de Vries
THE FNB NMMU Madibaz got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 18-12 victory over Wits in the pouring rain in Johannesburg yesterday. The Eastern Cape side outscored the hosts by three tries to one in what was a scrappy game to bounce back from consecutive defeats at home to FNB UCT and NWU-Pukke.
Wits played with their usual passion and commitment, but fell short of securing their first victory of the competition as they remain rooted to the bottom of the standings.
The home side made a spirited start to the match as they took the game to the Madibaz in the wet conditions, but the rain made handling incredibly difficult, which made it something of a stop-start affair. The match was always going to be dominated by the forwards in the driving rain, and opportunities were few and far between as both teams battled to find continuity.
NMMU centre Michael Bernardt was shown a yellow card for repeated breakdown infringements from his side, which gave Wits the opportunity to hit the front early on. Penalties either side of the first strategy break from Wits scrumhalf Matthew Torrance gave them a 4-0 lead, and they kept the pressure on the visitors.
However, the Madibaz struck back when prolific flank Chris Cloete crashed over for a try from a driving maul to give them a narrow 5-4 lead.
Things were just as scrappy in the second half, but the Madibaz managed to stretch their lead when Bernardt crossed the whitewash, with flyhalf Jarryd Buys’s conversion putting them 13-8 ahead.
Wits hit back with a try of their own from inside centre Brent Crossley, but it was anyone’s game in the final stages as both teams tore into one another, and the visitors had the final say as scrumhalf Enrico Acker darted over for a late try.