The University of the Free State (Kovsies) capped off a stellar student rugby season by winning the Varsity Sevens tournament with a 24-19 victory over Tuks in the final at Villagers, Cape Town this week.
The Sevens title is another feather in the university’s cap after they also won the Varsity Cup competition earlier in the month. The Free State team had to dig deep to clinch the victory, after trailing 7-12 at half-time. They ran in two tries in the final 10 minutes to clinch the title, after finishing the group stages at the top of the log.
Kovsies started the final with real oomph and showed some great play at the ruck to steal possession in Tuks’ 22. They quickly shifted the ball out wide and the extra numbers on the outside handed them the first try of the match. Tuks were being pinned in their 22 but they kept their composure and launched a huge counter-attack which saw them run the length of the field to grab their first try of the match to level matters at 7-7 with three minutes remaining in the half.
Tuks would remain on attack for the remainder of the half and found themselves with a 12-7 lead at the interval thanks to a brilliant team effort to score in the right corner.
Kovsies were on the attack from the second half kick-off and were awarded a penalty five metres from the Tuks try line. They called for the powerplay and made it count to grab a try and regain the lead at 17-12 with eight minutes remaining in the match. The Bloemfontein students would then stretch their lead to 12 points with another second half try to put some breathing space between the sides.
Tuks were under severe pressure and being pinned inside their 22 once again but a wild pass by Kovsies allowed Tuks to grab possession and run the length of the field to bring themselves back into the contest trailing 19-24 with two minutes remaining in the match.
The Pretoria side called for their powerplay in the final minute of the match and just as it seemed as if though they were going to break through the Kovsies defence, the Bloemfontein students were awarded a penalty to stop Tuks in their tracks and hand the trophy to Kovsies.
NWU-Pukke secured third place when they beat UJ 31-19 while UCT-Ikeys clinched the Plate section when they narrowly beat Western Cape rivals UWC 17-12. Maties finished the tournament in seventh place, NMMU had to settle for eighth while UFH avoided the wooden spoon when they beat WSU to ninth position, after failing to win a single match in the group stages.
Picture of the victorious Kovsies side courtesy of Thys Lombard