Shakey start for Maties’ 2024 Varsity Cup campaign

Eagles soar to high for Maroon jerseys

FNB NWU Eagles got the defence of their title off to a winning start in the first round of the 2024 FNB Varsity Cup competition with a hard-fought away victory over Maties.

Varsity Cup champions Eagles got the defence of their title off to an almost perfect start after beating Maties 20-12 in front of a packed Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch last night.

Despite it being a rather low-scoring affair, the Eagles were full value for being the more industrious team on the attack. The visitors also put up a staunch showing on defence to shut out a Maties attack that at times seemed toothless and without the real X-factor.

It was the Eagles who had all the right moves, with the playmaking pair of Aphelele Mdaka (scrumhalf) and Zinedine Robinson (flyhalf) pulling the string. The Eagles also played with a bit of reckless abandon, with flyhalf Zinedine Robinson not afraid to send the ball out wide for his wingers to chance their arm.

The attacking pressure would eventually pay off in the 21st minute when Robinson threw a lovely inside pass to left winger Naiden Jaarts to score the Eagles’ first try and silence a partisan Maties crowd. And nine minutes later the Eagles would extend their lead when Ezekiel Ngobeni crashed over for the visitors’ second five-pointer.

In the 35th minute, changes by Maties coach Kabamba Floors paid off when Vernon Matongo crashed over after a pick-and-go in front of the Eagles’ try line.

The start to the 2nd half mirrored that of the first, with no team able to get an early breakthrough in terms of points scoring. The only difference was that Maties seemed to have the upper hand, with the Eagles having to soak up the pressure with desperate defence.

A second Robinson penalty in the 67th minute would add to the scoreboard pressure, with Maties running out of answers on attack. And when Charles Wiliams slotted a third penalty to further extend the Eagles’ lead, the writing was on the wall. Not even a consolation score by Zuko Poswa in extra time could hide the disappointment on his Maties teammates’ faces.


FNB Maties 12 (7) – Tries:  Vernon Matongo, Zuko Poswa. Conversion: Juan Mostert.

FNB NWU Eagles 23 (14) – Tries: Naiden Jaarts, Ezekiel Ngobeni. Conversions: Zinedine Robinson (2). Penalties: Zinedine Robinson (2), Charles Williams.

Ezekiel Ngobeni (9) of Maties looks to evade a tackle by Naiden Jaarts of NWU during the 2024 Varsity Cup match between Maties and NWU at the Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch.
Louw Nel (7) of Maties during the first Varsity Cup match of 2024.

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