The u20 FNB UCT Young Guns have named their strongest side possible in their first foray into the play offs of the Varsity Cup Young Guns tournament against UP-Tuks Young Guns away in Pretoria on Monday 25 March.
In preparation for the tournament, the Trojans were always aware they would need to finish on top of their pool to ensure an 'easier' road to the final by avoiding Tuks who were expected to top their own pool, and to do this NMMU, Maties and UJ would have to be overcome. The Trojans beat NMMU convincingly but soon after stumbled spectacularly against Maties at home, followed by the extremely vital must-win victory against UJ that enabled the Trojans to progress to the semi finals, albeit as runners up behind Maties who recorded bonus point wins in all their games.
As a result the Trojans have to travel to Pretoria and beat the extremely strong Tuks u20 side to progress to the final against the victor of the other semi final, Maties or Shimlas. The Young Ikeys could not have chosen a harder opponent for the semi final and will have to pull out all the stops physically and tactically to have any chance of a highly unlikely victory.
The Tuks u20 side are expected to be physical & will look to their forwards to dominate the smaller UCT players in the collisions and the set piece, while UCT will be relying on their traditional running and passing game to avoid the bigger Tuks boys. The Trojans team have yet to show their true potential for an entire eighty minutes and they will be hoping that on the day they will click as a side and demonstrate why UCT are so revered when they give the ball some air.
A big boost in the Trojans favour is the addition of 1st XV players, Michael Willemse at hooker in place of Mike Kennedy and Xoli Lihlelix at inside centre in place of Justin Scott. Both Michael and Xoli have excelled for the senior Ikeys side since they were called up from the Trojans squad after injuries in the 1st team and have picked up a wealth of experience that will be invaluable during the game. In other changes, Joshua Jacobson moves back to the wing from fullback as Tom Bednall returns to the number 15 jersey after a concussion received after a dubious tackle in the Maties game.
Big losses cut deep and the memories remain. For the senior players who played in last years tournament and suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Tuks u20 side, this game enables them a second shot at redemption. They will have no option on Monday but to believe in themselves and each other as they face the expected Tuks onslaught, but with the correct motivation and the complete understanding of 'why' they are playing this game anything is possible.
FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns v FNB UCT Young Guns
Date: Monday, March 25
Venue: Tuks Sports Stadium, Pretoria
FNB UCT TROJANS: 15 Thomas Bednall, 14 Joshua Jacobson, 13 Brendan Rodgers, 12 Xoli Lihleli , 11 Suwi Chibale, 10 Rob Anderson, 9 Daniel Anderson, 8 Darryl Ndjadila, 7 Rushdie Salie, 6 Sean Johnstone (captain), 5 Jade Kriel, 4 Olwethu Hans, 3 David Maasch, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Msizi Zondi