RUGBY: NWU Eagles soar to the top by defeating UCT Ikeys to claim Varsity Cup title

RUGBY: NWU Eagles soar to the top by defeating UCT Ikeys to claim Varsity Cup title

The North-West University (NWU) Eagles were physically dominant throughout their 80-minute home final against the University of Cape Town (UCT) in Potchefstroom on Monday evening to claim their first Varsity Cup title since 2016 with a 27-25 win. 

NWU overcame a second Western Cape side in as many weeks after beating Stellenbosch University 19-10 in the semifinal a week ago, also in Potchefstroom. 

The Eagles finished the round-robin phase of the Varsity Cup at the top of the log after suffering only a single defeat. 

In the final, despite the close scoreline, NWU Eagles were physically stronger throughout the contest, especially at the set pieces. 

After leading 20-9 at halftime, the Potchefstroom side stopped creating attacking opportunities and instead relied on their rock-solid defence to keep out the running Ikeys. 

Ikeys were their own worst enemy throughout, throwing away clear-cut opportunities several times. Overthrown final passes, kicking the ball dead 5m away from the tryline with no opposition players in sight and numerous knock-ons were issues UCT could not fix despite their exciting attacking play. 

Eagles hooker Vernon Paulo scored two rolling maul tries in the first half as the Eagles made their physical presence felt.  

NWU proved they have the ability to play quickly as fullback Tino Swanepoel also dotted down in the opening 40 minutes. 

FNB NWU Eagles celebrate as the referee blows the final whistle to confirm their 2023 Varsity Cup title. (Photo: Christiaan Kotze / Gallo Images)

Tino Santino Swanepoel of NWU Eagles scores during the Varsity Cup final against UCT Ikeys at Fanie du Toit Sports Ground in Potchefstroom. (Photo: Christiaan Kotze / Gallo Images) 

New lease of life 

…. to be continued
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