Maties were crowned inaugural Varsity Sports Sevens champions in Plettenberg Bay on Saturday after beating NWU-Pukke in an epic final that was only clinched in extra time.
Both teams mounted comebacks in a remarkable match that finished off the weekend in style, with the momentum shifting constantly between the two evenly-matched sides.
There was no quarter given in the opening exchanges, with both sides defending for their lives, and there certainly were some big hits in the damp conditions with neither side willing to give an inch.
Some scrappy play from Maties in their own 22 handed Pukke the ball on a platter and JP du Plessis needed no second invitation to dive over for the opening try in the left corner.
The Stellenbosch side were being forced to play from their own territory and they paid the price when Du Plessis raced over for his second try which saw Pukke take a valuable 10-0 lead into the half-time break.
Maties started the second half with serious intent and it was Andre Smith who broke the line before grubbering ahead and winning the race to the ball to score his team’s opening try which reduced the deficit to 10-5.
Pukke were not going to take that kind of treatment lightly and worked themselves into a good position before Jaap Pienaar stepped his man to go over for another try and stretch the lead to 17-5.
With Maties desperate to get back into the game the ball was sent wide to Koos Loubser who kicked over the top and collected to put the Maties back within striking distance at 17-12.
That try seemed to give Maties renewed confidence and they continued to press with some quick-stepping from Pieter de Villiers creating some space out wide for Smith who dived over in the right corner to level the scores at 17-17.
Both teams were out on their feet after two hard days of Sevens rugby, but it all came down to the last two minutes with nothing to choose between the sides.
With the pressure on, Pukke spilt the ball in their own 22 and Maties looked certain to score before Loubser was pulled back in the in-goal area.
Referee Rasta Rastivenga consulted with his assistants and awarded the penalty try to give Maties the lead for the first time in the match, but Pukke hit back with the last movement to take the match into extra time.
A superb break-out try from Robin Goliath was successfully converted to make it 24-24 at the final whistle and the teams headed into the drama of sudden death.
After the kick-off was put out on the full by Pukke, Maties launched an attack up the left touchline and it was Michael Muller who dived over for the decisive try to give Maties a hard-earned victory.