The FNB Ikey Tigers will face a serious test when they travel to Pretoria on Monday to take on the in-form FNB Tuks in a game that is shaping up as a virtual Varsity Cup quarterfinal clash.
UCT head coach Kevin Foote has named a strong team with a dynamic backline that will surely be out to take the game to Tuks.
Stormers centre Tim Whitehead – who is returning from an injury lay-off – joins Marcel Brache to form a potent midfield pairing outside the solid Demetri Catrakilis at flyhalf; Whitehead and Brache having been the Ikeys’ first-choice centre pairing last season.
With Eben Etzebeth away on tour with the SA Under-20 team, Springbok Hilton Lobberts joins Levi Odendaal in the second row – adding a lot of grunt to the UCT pack for this must-win fixture.
In other changes up front, Greg Mallett takes over the No.8 jersey – after starting on the bench last week – and his cousin, captain Nick Fenton-Wells, moves back to the side of the scrum, with Zandy Macdonald reverting to the bench.
The permutations are simple; UCT need to win to make the semifinals, which would also see them claim yet another home semifinal – but the scenario is exactly the same for the home side who beat the Maties 27-13 last week.
“Our destiny is firmly in our own hands,” admitted UCT’s head coach to varsitycup.co.za
“We probably enjoy being the underdogs,” added Foote, when asked about the odds being stacked against the Ikeys. “With so much at stake, both teams will be up for it… but it does help being written off like we are.”
The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Mark Winter 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Timothy Whitehead, 11 Richard Rijs, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nicholas Farrar, 8 Greg Mallett, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (captain), 6 Don Armand, 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Matthew Page, 1 Wesley Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Dayne Jans, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Michael Morris, 19 Zandy Macdonald, 20 Scott Watermeyer, 21 Pete Haw, 22 Sabelo Siyakatshana, 23 Pete Olivier.
Head coach: Kevin Foote
Date: Monday, March 21
Venue: Tuks Rugby Stadium, Pretoria
Kick-off: 5pm (SuperSport One)
Referee: Rasta Rashivenga
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
By James Kingston