The UKZN Impi produced a stunning late comeback to secure a tense 34-31 away victory over the TUT Vikings and move to the top of the Varsity Shield standings on Thursday.
The Pietermaritzburg outfit, who failed to win a game last season, showed great character under pressure to down the former Varsity Cup side on their home turf and establish themselves as major contenders this year.
The Vikings had taken a 23-18 lead into the break thanks to two tries from flying wing Fanie Raseroka just before half-time, and looked to be cruising to victory until some late heroics from UKZN replacement Hendrik Groenewald snatched victory for the visitors.
Groenewald managed to cross the whitewash twice in the last ten minutes of the match, and although a late try from TUT centre Zandre De Bruin earned the Vikings two bonus points they will still be bitterly disappointed at letting the game slip out of their grasp.
Meanwhile, in Bloemfontein the CUT Ixias got their Varsity Shield campaign off to a solid start by downing the dangerous UWC 25-10.
The Ixias outscored the Cape outfit by three tries to one despite losing countless line-outs in the blustery conditions, with their physical forward pack laying a good foundation for the backline to exploit.
UWC could not find the fluency that saw them score five tries against the TUT Vikings in Bellville on Monday, and played 20 minutes of the match with just seven forwards as both of their locks were shown yellow cards.
Tries from centre Johan van Schalkwyk, wing Alec Mhlanga and captain Inus Kritzinger saw the Ixias cruise to an ultimately comfortable victory, although UWC did get some late consolation when centre Yondela Stampu crossed for their only try of the match.
Varsity Shield action continues on Monday when the Impi host the Ixias in Pietermaritzburg and the Vikings look to turn their season around against the Fort Hare Blues in Alice.
TUT Vikings 31-34 UKZN Impi
Tries: Reseroka 2, De Bruin, Mangena
Cons: Hugo 3
Tries: Potgieter, Groenewald 2
Con: Potgieter 2, Meyer
Pens: Potgieter 5
TUT Vikings: 15 Paul Walters, 14 Thabo Mangena, 13 Zandre De Bruin, 12 Oswald Gibson, 11 Fanie Raseroka, 10 Morne Hugo, 9 Nico Smuts, 8 Barend Nordeje, 7 Tinus Van Wyk (captain), 6 Mandla Mdaka, 5 Gareth Bredenhann, 4 Isak Deetlefs, 3 Dylan Middleditch, 2 Adriaan Joubert, 1 Gerrit Van Gerwe.
Replacements: 16 Dawid Roux, 17 Ricardo Burger, 18 Armand Marshall, 19 Welile Ntozakhe, 20 Johannes Venter, 21 Anele Magubane, 22 Siyabulela Mbuqe, 23 Xander Grobler.
UKZN: 15 Jeandre Small, 14 Jaco Potgieter, 13 Hendrik Lategan, 12 Garath Meikle, 11 Mondli Ntshingila, 10 Heinrich Meyer, 9 Zander Engelbrecht, 8 Andre Greyvenstein, 7 Calvin Ngcungama, 6 Njabulo Zondi, 5 Gerrit Fourie, 4 Corne Nieuwenhuizen, 3 Sizwe Khubeka, 2 Senzo Ngubane, 1 Luciando Santos.
Replacements: 16 Richard Sakhile, 17 Leon Mulder, 18 Wayne le Roux, 19 Sanele Malwane, 20 Siyanda Madlala, 21 Ngcebo Phungula, 22 Hendrik Groenewald , 23 Sanele Mweli.
Referee: Gerrie de Bruin
CUT Ixias 25-10 UWC
Tries: Van Schalkwyk, Mhlanga, Kritzinger
Cons: Marx 2
Pens: Marx 2
Yellow card: Leon Pretorius
Pen: Van Vollenhoven
Yellow cards: Methetheleli Fuzani, Pallo Manuel
CUT: 15 Kholo Ramashala, 14 Alec Mhlanga, 13 Johan Van Schalkwyk, 12 Leon Pretorius, 11 Meyer Van Tonder, 10 Noël Marx, 9 Inus Kritzinger (captain), 8 Juan Hugo, 7 Dean Kauprihanoff, 6 Moekoa Bolofo, 5 Andrew Bester, 4 Johan Klopper, 3 Petri Coetzee, 2 Deon Gouws, 1 Carl Gersbach.
Replacements: 16 Anrich Bitzi, 17 Francois Bender, 18 Levette Shikwambana, 19 JJ Nel, 20 Christoff Swanepoel, 21 Frans Sisita, 22 Nhlanganiso Sibanda, 23 Danie van der Merwe.
UWC: 15 Quade Langeveld, 14 Godlen Masimla, 13 Kenwin Weiner, 12 Yondela Stampu, 11 Donovan Williams, 10 Charl Van Vollenhoven, 9 Fredderick Muller, 8 Njabulo Ndlovu, 7 Juan-Paul Kellerman, 6 Jose Julies, 5 Pallo Manuel, 4 Methetheleli Fuzani, 3 Kelvin de Bruyn, 2 Charlton van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Michael September.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mkhize, 17 Siphiwokuhle Bakeni, 18 Sebenza Maphumulo, 19 Samuel Borsah, 20 Denzel Willemse, 21 Lubabalo Faleni, 22 Tsepo Manaka, 23 Brent Fisher.
Referee: Jaco Kotze
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.