Dobson mixes and matches for NMMU

UCT head coach John Dobson has made a few changes to the Ikey Tigers’ starting line-up for Monday’s Varsity Cup – and Monte Taljaard Trophy – match at the Xerox NMMU Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Dobson has wisely chosen to rest a few of his senior stars, all of whom performed so well against Pukke this past Monday, with an eye to keeping his entire squad as fresh as possible during the 2010 Varsity Cup.

As a result, skipper Nick Fenton-Wells will get a well-deserved break this week, with the captaincy going to scrumhalf Stu Commins who led the team with aplomb in the final quarter against Pukke.

Joining Fenton-Wells on the sidelines are hooker Dayne Jans, lock Levi Odendaal and winger Marcello Sampson, the latter having also taken a slight knock on Monday night.

In other changes to the UCT line-up – which beat Pukke 18-11 – tighthead prop Chris Heidberg will make his first-ever Varsity Cup start (with Grant Kemp moving to the bench) and Stormers representative Martin Muller (pictured) will start in place of Odendaal in the No.5 jersey.

Muller and centre Tim Whitehead were both stood down from the UCT starting XV at late notice last week, after getting some game time for the Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium during the weekend, but are now free to start as part of Dobson’s ongoing ‘deal’ with Stormers boss Rassie Erasmus.

“We are under no illusions that this will be a difficult game,” Dobson said “(as) I think the scores that NMMU have conceded this season belie a far better performance, apart maybe from the second half against the Maties.

“The game with Shimlas was odd,” he added. “Both teams would go for it, but every now and again Shimlas would go on and score which then led to what seemed a big loss.”

Those changes to the Ikeys XV aside, Dobson has also introduced some new faces on his bench; with hooker Matt Page, lock Mike Ledwidge and talented winger Paul Cohen all amongst the replacements for the PE trip – a tough journey when one takes into account the magnitude of the Monte Taljaard Trophy.

Flanker Monte Taljaard played for UCT in the 2008 Varsity Cup, but sadly passed away in a car accident in September 2008.

Taljaard, a Grey PE old boy (hence why the Ikeys and Madibas are both honouring him), was a very popular UCT player with a bright future and he would definitely have gone on to captain his team in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.

Dobson – also Taljaard’s UCT Under-21 coach in 2007 – added: “It’s also an important match for us because we are playing for the Monte Taljaard Trophy.

“Monte was a big part of us and would have been our future (at the club), so we are grateful for an occasion such as this to honour him.”

The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Pete Haw, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Sean van Tonder, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Matt Rosslee, 9 Stu Commins (captain), 8 Sam Peter, 7 JJ Gagiano, 6 Yaya Hartzenberg, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Don Armand, 3 Chris Heidberg, 2 Mark Goosen, 1 Ash Wells.
Replacements: 16 Matt Page, 17 Wes Chetty, 18 Mike Ledwidge, 19 Greg Mallett, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Paul Cohen, 22 Douglas Mallett, 23 Grant Kemp.

Head coach: John Dobson

Date: Monday, February 15
Venue: Xerox NMMU Stadium
Kick-off: 6.30pm
Referee: Archie Sehlako