The TUT Vikings, relegated from the Varsity Cup last year, got off to rocky start in the Varsity Shield, taking a 42-4 hammering from UWC in Bellville on Monday.
The Cape side, now coached by ex-Bok coach Peter de Villiers, scored 40 unanswered points through five tries in the second half to take the game away from the Vikings.
Both teams showed plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to run the ball from the offset, but could not find the killer blow, with the match scoreless at the first strategy break.
The visitors were enjoying a major territorial advantage in the first half with the wind at their backs, and piled on the pressure after UWC lock Methetheleli Fuzani was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown, but could not find a way over the tryline as the home side showed great commitment on defence.
With continuity a precious commodity it was the Vikings who took a slender 4-2 lead into the half-time break after outscoring UWC by two penalties to one in the opening half.
UWC came out after half-time and scored three quick tries to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Fuzani crashed over from close range shortly after the break and that was followed up by tries from scrumhalf Freddie Muller and left wing Minenhle Mthethwa to put them firmly in control at 26-4.
The bonus point was wrapped up after the second strategy break when replacement Donovan Williams cut the defensive line before finding outside centre Kenwin Weiner who dived over for the try which clinched a full house of five log points for the home side.
Meanwhile, in Pietermaritzburg, UKZN overcame a determined Fort Hare side in tricky conditions to register a gutsy 19-7 victory.
UKZN failed to win a single game last year to finish with the Varsity Shield wooden spoon, so the win will come as a massive boost as they look to build some momentum this season.
There was no shortage of commitment from either side in the pouring rain, and it was anyone’s game at the hour mark with UKZN holding a slender 8-7 lead.
However, the home side turned on the class in the final stages with the wind at their backs, and a try and three penalties sealed a valuable victory over the dangerous Eastern Cape side.
Varsity Shield action continues on Thursday when UWC travel to Bloemfontein to take on 2011 champions CUT, whilst the UKZN Take on TUT in Pretoria.