If you have to go with History then the home sides will win their semi-final games tonight, but this yearâ€™s competition has hardly followed the script of previous years.
Semi-Final 1 â€“ UCT vs. Shimlas (Cape Town)
Monday’s semi-finals will be the first-ever without the FNB Maties but at least the people from Cape Town can get behind UCT as they take on Shimlas. It is also the first time that another team other than Maties, or UCT had top the log. The day’s first semi-final – a repeat of one of last year’s fixture – will see UCT play host to the FNB Shimlas at 16:45.
“What has happened before, or might lie ahead, is not on our minds at all,” cautioned the Ikeys’ coach Kevin Foote on varsitycup.co.za. “Our sole focus this week has been on Monday at 4.45pm,” he added. With his players on a high after their 19-17 come-from-behind triumph over FNB Tuks in Pretoria last Monday, Foote and his team have had a good week at training. However, he revealed that team selection had thrown up a few problems.
“There’s been a few distractions, if you can call them that. Our SA Under-20 guys got back late this week and losing a guy like Danger [Dayne Jans] has affected our student ‘quota’. “But, at the end of the day, I’ve picked a bunch of mates to go out there and win the semifinal for us,” he added.
FNB Shimlas coach Jaco Swanepoel believes that the notorious conditions at Groote Schuur will play a major role in his team’s semifinal against FNB UCT in Cape Town on Monday.Â He toldÂ varsitycup.co.za: “It was a tough lesson that we learned down there last year, especially how to play in the wind.
â€œIt’s extremely difficult even to prepare for windy circumstances like that because we don’t have wind like that in Bloemfontein. If we do have wind it is a slight breeze against the gale force that comes though there.
“Hopefully we will have a beautiful evening in the Cape with no wind and then obviously better rugby will be played,” he added wishfully.
“Winning by 50 or 60 points just before a semifinal would not have been the greatest thing… so I think it was a big wake up call for our guys to step up a bit for the semifinal because it is going to be a totally different game,” he said.
The Teams for Tonight:
The FNB Shimlas team: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Earl Snyman, 12 Charl Weideman, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Jaco Colyn, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Willie Britz (captain), 7 Pieter LabuschagnĂ¨, 6 Etienne Terblanche, 5 Joubert Horn, 4 Wilken Heyns, 3 Ian Potgieter, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 John-Henry Harris.
Replacements: 16 JC Van Wyk, 17 Johan van Niekerk, 18 Frederick Ngoza, 19 Erik le Roux, 20 Franna du Toit, 21 Shaun Davids, 22 Divandre Strydom, 23 Charles Marais.
The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Ricky Rijs, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Adrian Kritzinger, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nicholas Farrar, 8 Greg Mallett, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (captain), 6 Michael Morris, 5 Donovan Armand, 4 Levi Odendaal, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Matt Page, 1 Wesley Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Zandy Macdonald, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Pete Haw, 22 Sabelo Siyakatshana, 23 Pete Olivier.
(I am sure Pietploos will be glad not to see Hilton Lobberts in the line-up)
Semi-Final 2 â€“ UJ vs. Tuks (Johannesburg)
On Saturday we had the senior teams in the Super 15 playing each other and tonight we will be treated by the youngsters who will take on one another. The only difference is Saturday was in Pretoria and tonight is in Johannesburg.
If there is one team that deserve a spot in this yearâ€™s semiâ€˜s it is UJ. They really put their hands up for the title and proved so by beating Maties and UCT on their home grounds.
Tukkies on the other hand started slowly but came through in the later stages of the competition and have a real change to win this. The battle will be upfront and whoever wins it there will win this game.
Tuks head coach Nollis Marais toldÂ varsitycup.co.za. “UJ have been the pace-setters from the outset and again showed their class with bonus point away wins against, first the Ikeys, and then, the Maties; an excellent achievement in anybody’s book.
“We, on the other hand, will be the underdogs as we have suffered three defeats to their one,” he added.
â€œThe fact that we were the only team to beat them in the group phase of the competition will not be to our advantage. In fact, in will rather be a hindrance as they will leave nothing to chance this time. They will be as battle-ready as can be and not underestimate us as may have been the case when we crossed swords on March 7.”
Head coach Hugo van Asâ€™ men will want to carry that form into a first-ever Varsity Cup semifinal but they will also be aware that knockout rugby is an entirely different affair; something that Tuks have some experience of, having appeared in two other VC semi’s.
The team that will contest UJ’s first ever semifinal shows just one change from the line-up that knocked Maties out of the competition last week.
The Teams for Tonight
The FNB UJ team: 15 Theuns Kotze, 14 Aubrey McDonald, 13 Justin St. Jerry, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Lolo Waka, 10 AndrĂ© Smith, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Cameron Peverett, 7 Justin Wheeler (captain), 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Marnus van Huyssteen, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Alfred Ries, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Thurston Zimri, 17 Ollie Terblanche, 18 Shane Kirkwood, 19 Johan van Deventer, 20 Jacques Pretorius, 21 Divan van Zyl, 22 Wigan Pekeur, 23 Anthony Gallacher.
The FNB Tuks team (v FNB UJ): 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Jean du Plessis, 12 Dabeon Draghoender, 11 Hayden Groepes, 10 Wesley Dunlop (captain), 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Nqubeko Zulu, 3 Stephan Pretorius, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Chris Crous, 17 Jean Rossouw, 18 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 19 Willie Nel, 20 Clayton Stewart, 21 JC Roos, 22 GD Kotzee, 23 Grant Kemp.
Varsity Cup semifinal fixtures for Monday, March 28:
FNB UCT v FNB Shimlas
Kick-off: 4.45pmÂ (Live on SuperSport One)
Groote Schuur (Cape Town)
FNB UJ v FNB Tuks
Kick-off: 7pm (Live on SuperSport One)
UJ Stadium (Johannesburg)
UCT vs. Shimlas â€“ UCT by 10
UJ vs. Tuks â€“ Tuks by 7
Additional information from www.varsitycup.co.za