The first semifinal had to be settled by the lottery of a penalty shootout and it was the visitors, UP-Tuks, who held their nerve to send NWU out of the competition for the second time in as many years.
The Pretoria students kept their unbeaten record against their North West opponents alive with the 5-4 win on penalties.
NWU settled early in the match and looked most likely to score but were thwarted by some big tackles from UP-Tuks which saw Kyle Amon and Matsobane Matsi bearing the brunt of it.
The home side were unlucky to have a chance ruled out in the seventh minute when Tshenolo Machwisa slotted the ball into an open net after Orebotse Mongae had a shot stopped by Dylan Paterson but the linesman had already flagged for an offside.
Tuks earned a corner against the run of play in the 15th minute which saw Lucky Mathosi out-jumping the defence but he couldn’t keep his header down and the ball sail over the bar.
It was the turn of the visitors to have a goal disallowed in the 29th minute when Lawrence Ntswane headed the ball into an open net, only to be caught in an offside position.
Jeremiah Nkwana tried his luck with an audacious free kick in the 34th minute from just inside his half but Amogelang Maduo was up for the challenge and tipped the ball over the bar.
The match remained open and fast paced for the remainder of the half with both sides having their fair chances to grab the lead but the teams went goalless into the break.
The second half started the way the first ended with both teams pushing hard for the opening goal despite hard tackles flying in from both sides.
The visitors began to dominate and looked most likely to score from a set-piece as their tall strikers proved to be more than a handful for the NWU defence.
Kagiso Modimoeng had an ideal chance to hand the home side the lead in the 75th minute after latching onto a perfectly executed pass from Macwisa but the striker chose power instead of placement and blasted his effort over the bar.
Nkwana was lethal from the dead-ball situation and tested Maduo again in the 76th minute when his powerful free kick was dealt with by the North West stopper.
Maduo was in fine form throughout the match and kept his team in the match pulling off fine saves to deny every Tuks effort.
Both teams pushed to find a late winner as the final whistle approached but neither could convert the numerous chances they created as the match went into the dreaded penalty shootout following a goalless draw.
Sudden death seemed imminent as the teams were locked at 4-4 with their final kicks to be taken. Tuks goalkeeper Dylan Paterson pulled of a save from a tame shot by Modimoeng before Lawrence Ntswane stepped up and calmly slotted his penalty to send the defending champions into the final for a second consecutive year.
FNB Man of the Match: Jarryd Van Den Berg
Samsung Super Striker: Jeremiah Nkwana
NWU-Mafikeng: 1 Amogelang Maduo, 7 Sipho Mateis, 2 Lebogang Phetlu, 5 Kyle Amon, 20 Tseko Weevris, 6 Sandile Mbatha, 15 Matsobane Matsi, 13 Thatohatsi Santos, 10 Orebotse Mongae, 9 Tshenolo Machwiswa, 11 Lindani Dudula.
Substitutes: 16 Xolani Mtshali, 24 Aobakwe Mopelwa, 25 Goitseone Naane, 12 Mogomotsi Molefe, 21 Lebogang Motshegare, 18 Thapelo Tlabakwe, 8 Kagiso Modimoeng.
UP-Tuks: 32 Dylan Paterson, 4 Lawrence Ntswane, 8 Nicholas Killas, 13 Lindsay Stowman, 20 Thabo Ndlovu, 10 Jeremiah Nkwana, 11 Richard Moremi, 5 Simbongile Njokwe, 15 Jarryd Van Den Berg, 9 Mbongeni Masilela, 18 Lucky Mathosi.
Substitutes: 1 Nicholas Stothard, 6 Khumbulani Siluma, 12 Phuthego Mabitsela, 7 Luke Steyl, 22 Dean Wilkinson, 2 Botshelo Mfulwane, 23 Vuze-Umuze Khoza.