Varsity Cup is going down to the business end of the tournament as we go into Round 7 this week.
Maties is still on top of the log with Wits taking up the second spot
|12||FNB Wits||v||FNB UJ||Wits Rugby Stadium||16:45|
|12||FNB CUT||v||FNB UP Tuks||CUT Rugby Stadium||18:30|
|12||FNB Madibaz||v||FNB Maties||NMU Stadium||18:30|
|12||FNB NWU||v||FNB Shimlas||Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds||19:00|
Wits v UJ
The Johannesburg Derby is set to ignite the City of Gold with the high-flying FNB Wits taking on the in-form FNB UJ.
FNB Wits have been surprisingly dominant this season, losing only one game while taking valuable scalps. FNB Wits beat FNB UP-Tuks and FNB UCT and claimed an impressive yet controversial draw with FNB Maties. The boys from Braamfontein have based their game plan on their forwards providing a solid platform for their electric back line to launch searing attacks from.
Fleet-footed line-breaks from fly-half Christian Humphries before offloads to barnstorming runners Daniel Kasende and Tyron Green are all too familiar in the FNB Wits highlights reels. With FNB Wits at second on the FNB Varsity Cup log, FNB UJ who currently sit at fourth will be keen to catch their Jozi rivals.
FNB UJ had a disappointing start to the competition after losing to FNB Maties 31-3 in the first round. The men in orange have gone from strength-to-strength since their early hiccup and have put up some massive scores, including a 69-8 win over FNB Madibaz and a 49-12 victory over FNB Shimlas.
It’s a contest that should go down to the wire with both teams playing for log points, but maybe more importantly, bragging rights.
FNB UJ boss Werner Janse van Rensburg stressed that his steam is incredibly excited to be apart of the Joburg derby.
“Being involved in the Joburg derby is the reason we coach and the reason we play. Derby days don’t come around a lot and we really enjoy them on the day. They are some of the rare occurrences in rugby and it is great to be involved with them.”
Janse van Rensburg explained that FNB Wits are dangerous side but that FNB UJ are concentrating on their own game plan.
“Obviously we are playing a really solid side in terms of what they have done this season, they are deservedly number two on the log and they have no real weak points. FNB Wits really look like they can do anything on the park at any stage.
“But for us we aren’t focusing on them. We are focusing on our own plan in terms of the stuff we’ve done we and our developments. And hopefully for 80 minutes we present that at a good intensity and that will be good enough to get a result.”
FNB Wits coach Hugo van As believes the game will go down to the wire and that the result will hinge on which team can control proceedings.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for FNB UJ and if you allow them to get momentum and they start playing, they become very dangerous. The key for Monday night for both teams, will be enforcing their game plan and their structures at the time, that’s who will win it.”
Pukke v Shimlas
FNB NWU will host FNB Shimlas in the traditional derby between the two sides at Fanie du Toit Stadium on Monday.
The men from Potchefstroom currently sit at third on the table behind FNB Maties in first place with FNB Wits in second. Assuming Jonathan Mokuena’s side topples FNB Shimlas at home and FNB Wits succumbs to the in-form FNB UJ side, FNB NWU could find themselves in second place for the last three rounds of the competition and one step closer to a home semi-final. FNB NWU have looked strong this tournament after losing just one game to FNB UCT and will be solid contenders for the title this season.
FNB Shimlas on the other hand started strong but after some injury setbacks, were defeated 49-12 in Round 5 by FNB UJ in Bloemfontein followed by a bye. FNB Shimlas still have a clear road to the knockout stage assuming they beat FNB NWU on Monday.
FNB Shimlas boss Hendro Scholtz explained that they used the bye to lick their wounds but the men from Bloemfontein are feeling confident for the rest of the competition.
“We didn’t have good game against FNB UJ and obviously over the bye we gave the guys a couple of days Off. We had a few injuries, and after a few days off the guys have recovered and will be available to play against FNB NWU.
“After FNB NWU we have two home games against FNB NMU and FNB CUT and we’ll need to get back to winning ways and things will take care of itself. We’re looking forward to a physical clash with FNB NWU.”
Madibaz v Maties
FNB Madibaz will be desperate to upset the dominant FNB Maties when they host the table-topping visitors on Monday evening in Port Elizabeth.
It has been a frustrating season for FNB Madibaz after going six rounds without a win. Once a powerhouse in FNB Varsity Cup, FNB Madibaz have had a poor string of results, punctuated by defeats in fixtures that could have gone their way.
In their first three losses, FNB Madibaz lost by an average points margin of just less than five points per game. Early on in the season FNB Madibaz boss David Maidza cited their poor form to a lack of execution which seemed to permeate into the rest of their season.
FNB Madibaz are now firmly in the relegation zone and will be desperate to unseat the near-indomitable FNB Maties to scrap their way out of danger.
FNB Maties on the other hand have had a dream season barring a draw to FNB Wits in Round 5. The Maroon jerseys have not a lost a single game and have put in some big results including a 31-3 victory over FNB UJ, a 56-21 victory over FNB Shimlas and an extraordinary 75-12 victory over FNB CUT.
The men from Stellenbosch have meticulously dismantled their opponents, either through their resolute forward pack or through their electric set of backs. The names of Marno Redelinghuys, Duncan Saal, Chris Smith and Edwill Van Der Merwe have shot across headlines with their star performances.
FNB Maties are well ahead on the log and will want to keep their winning form going with an unbeaten season.
CUT v Tuks
It’s make or break for FNB UP-Tuks when they travel to Bloemfontein to take on FNB CUT with a new coach and hopefully, a new lease on life.
The 2017 FNB Varsity Cup champions go into Round 7 without a single win. They have looked competitive throughout the tournament but have yet to claim victory and will hope that with new management they can topple FNB CUT away. Two-time FNB Varsity Cup winning coach and former Bulls coach Nollis Marais joins the side as the new head coach with previous head coach David Manuel moving to assistant coach.
FNB CUT are seventh on the table with five points, ahead of FNB Madibaz in eight and FNB UP-Tuks at ninth with the men from Pretoria on two points. Meaning a win for FNB UP-Tuks over the traditional FNB Varsity Cup whipping boys would propel them out of the relegation zone and would allow them to potentially win back some dignity in the competition.
FNB CUT, claimed their second ever win this season after beating FNB Madibaz in Round 3. If FNB CUT claim a win over FNB Tuks, they will almost certainly damn the former champions to a relegation battle with FNB Madibaz. The victory would also position them to scale the log if they ambush FNB UCT the following and win the Bloemfontein derby against FNB Shimlas, FNB CUT could earn themselves a record log position.
It will be interesting to see if FNB UP-Tuks initiate a new strategy or choose to employ a new look starting up when they run out against FNB CUT.