FNB UCT head coach John Dobson is not normally one to settle for a loss, but even he was adamant that it was a case of “job done” against FNB Pukke in Varsity Cup action in Potchefstroom on Monday afternoon.
UCT went down 13-17 to a fired-up Pukke side at the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds, but their ‘reward’ for beating the Ikey Tigers will see the Men from Potch travel to Cape Town next week for a repeat of last year’s exciting semifinal clash at the same venue.
“We don’t like playing that kind of rugby,” admitted Dobson to varsitycup.co.za, “but it was certainly a case of getting the job done on Monday.
“Pukke threw everything at us in their bid to score four tries and secure the win, but we ran them close by playing a type of game that I don’t really like.”
Dobson added: “It was actually quite a weird game for both sides.
“Poor old Pukke had to score those four tries and us, well, as hard I tried to fire the guys up, we knew could afford to lose the match and still host a semifinal the following week.
“We certainly didn’t go out to lose, but we kept some of our powder dry and held back a few things. We have plenty to work on at training this week, but we might just have a few surprises up our sleeves come next Monday.”
Amazingly, both semifinals in the 2009 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International are a repeat of last year…
Of course, in 2008 UCT topped the log – losing just one league match (to Pukke) – but this year Maties, who will play Tuks in the semifinals once again, topped the standings; losing one game in the process.
“I guess it’s quite hard to argue that these are not the four best university teams in South Africa,” said the Ikeys head coach.
“I think we’ve certainly proven that last year wasn’t a flash in the pan – despite what some people might think,” added Dobson.
“It’s nice to prove some people wrong, but the nice thing for me, as a coach, is that this team is a pretty new one and they’ve got plenty to offer in years to come.
“Last year we had some real ‘strikers’ – as I like to call them – like Kyle Brown, James Martin and Mat Turner, but this year I think we’re a more rounded side and that makes me quite proud, as the coach.”
Looking ahead to the semifinals, Dobson admitted that “lessons had been learnt” – but he seemed to be referring more to himself and assistant coach Robbie Fleck.
“A lot of the guys had never played knockout rugby at this level – it was all pretty new to them, but also to myself and Fleckie,” revealed Dobson.
“We do, however, have plenty of new faces this year, so it’s new for a lot of the guys. But the nice thing is that Fleckie and I have been through this before and we will certainly do a few things differently during the week to keep the guys sharp.
“At the same time, however, we will rely on our senior players like JJ (Gagiano), Dyl (Rogers) and Rossers (Matt Rosslee) to keep those around them calm.
“This is a special team… The guys would love nothing more than winning this tournament and we’ll certainly go out there playing to win.”