The University of Johannesburg will meet former FNB Varsity Cup title-holders Stellenbosch University in the final of the USSA rugby tournament on Friday afternoon.
UJ beat defending champions the University of Pretoria 15-10 in a closely contested semi-final at the Tshwane University of Technology grounds on Wednesday to secure their final berth.
Maties beat NWU-Pukke narrowly by 35-32 on their march into the last round.
According to UJ rugby manager Jimmy Potgieter, the win had boosted his side’s confidence, as they had not beaten Tuks in three years at the national student championships.
“Both sides tried to play an attacking game and went for the tries in the spirit of the tournament,” said Potgieter.
“In the first half, we scored two good tries from our own 22.”
UJ scrumhalf Jacques Pretorius opened the scoring when he caught the ball in his own half and ran 60 metres to break through the Tuks defence.
Fullback Kobus de Kock went over for the second try after his side stole the opposition’s line-out ball deep in UJ’s own territory.
De Kock kicked the conversion and a penalty in the closing minutes of the first half to give UJ a comfortable 15-0 margin at the half-time whistle.
“Then Tuks woke up in the second half and suddenly started playing,” said Potgieter.
They scored a converted try and a penalty but it was not enough to take the win.
“They lost too many line-outs. Our contesting in the line-outs and winning the ball was what won us the game.”
Aside from a big loss to Tuks at the Varsity Cup earlier in the year, Potgieter said both sides had been fairly evenly matched throughout the season.
“Ultimately, all semi-finals are about who makes the most mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes in the game, then you’ll win. As for us, we were just more consistent yesterday.”
He said he expected a tough, running game from the Maties in the final.
“Tomorrow, anything can happen. That’s what makes university rugby so exciting.”
Although tradition favoured a Maties win, Potgieter said his side would just focus on their own game, take their opportunities and eliminate any mistakes.
“Any loose ball and they will kill you. So tomorrow we just have to be better in our defence, in our attack and in gaining the advantage line.”
University of Johannesburg fullback Kobus de Kock will be the last line of defence when UJ play the University of Stellenbosch in the final of the USSA rugby tournament on Friday.
The final kicks off at 1pm.
UJ also takes on Maties in the men’s hockey final on Friday.