A LAST-GASP try by replacement hooker Martin Ferreira secured the NMMU Madibaz a spot in the FNB Varsity Cup rugby semifinals despite losing 34-33 to UFS-Shimlas in Bloemfontein last night.
Shimlas’ hopes of making the semifinals were dramatically dashed as the try secured the Madibaz a second losing bonus point which was enough to snatch a semifinal clash against NWU-Pukke in Potchefstroom on Monday.
Ikeys will face Maties in the other semifinal also on Monday with the winners of the two playoffs contesting the final on April 7.
The Madibaz made a determined start to the match, taking the ball through multiple phases deep in opposition territory, with Michael Bernardt eventually getting over for the opening try after a good chip kick from scrumhalf Daniel Acker.
Flyhalf Gavin Hauptfleisch added the conversion and then a penalty to give the visitors a handy 10-0 lead.
But the home side responded, and, in their first foray into NMMU’s 22, lock Neil Claassen crashed over for a try from a driving maul.
They kept the pressure on and it was not long before hooker Jacques du Toit went over for their second try from another driving maul. Flyhalf Gouws Prinsloo slotted the touchline conversion to give the Shimlas a 13-10 lead.
But that did not last long as NMMU hit back with an individual effort from Hauptfleisch who collected his own chip to score and then converted it.
Hauptfleisch added another penalty, but it was the Shimlas who had the lead at halftime as Du Toit touched down with Prinsloo adding the conversion (21-20).
NMMU had to play the first 10 minutes of the second half with just 14 men with flank Marcel Groenewald in the sin bin, but the field was levelled when Oupa Mohoje joined him.
The visitors were reduced to 13 when Ferreira saw yellow and the hosts swung it wide immediately as they looked to take advantage.
It did not take them long to get the bonus point try as wing Maphuta Dolo stretched to score in the corner, with Prinsloo’s conversion giving them a handy buffer at 29-20.
The Madibaz were right back in it when Ferreira crashed over, setting up a tense final 20 minutes.
The Shimlas gave themselves some breathing room when Prinsloo raced through to score their fifth try, but they would end the match heartbroken through Ferreira’s late try.
Other results: Maties 41 Tuks 24; UCT 25 Wits 5; Pukke 24 UJ 20. – Michael de Vries