Ikey Tigers head coach John Dobson praised his team’s maturity, after their impressive 27-21 Varsity Cup semifinal win over the FNB Shimlas in Cape Town on Monday.
The Men from UCT led 19-0 at half-time and scored an early second-half try against their fired-up opponents – who scored two late five-pointers to give the scoreline some respectability.
“I was pleased with our performance (on Monday) as it showed considerable maturity, a trait that has become more common in this team – possibly more than (in) our recent sides,” Dobson told Howie Kahn.
“I was worried that we left a few tries on the table in the first half, sometimes through rank selfishness, but I knew we needed to score after the half into the wind, which we did.
“Shimlas are a very good team indeed – well coached, motivated and talented; it would be churlish to say that I was not thrilled with the score as I think it belied a comprehensive performance,” he added.
“The conditions were shocking and foreign to them and for once we played them almost right. Rugby is a possession game now with the new applications and it is sometimes hard to reconcile that and when you are playing with the wind.”
The Ikeys, of course, will now make the short dash down the Winelands to Stellenbosch’s Danie Craven Stadium – for a second Varsity Cup Final meeting against their old enemy, the Maties; the back-to-back champions and a team that has not tasted defeat in 2010.
“They are a quality, quality outfit,” said Dobson of the Men in Maroon.
“But we like it when no one gives us a chance… and we hear that it’s going to be a cricket score (for them). I must confess, I don’t think it will be!”
The Ikeys have a few minor injury worries from Monday’s physical encounter at the Green Mile, but Dobson is confident that his “excellent back-up” – if called upon – will slot in seamlessly.
The FNB UCT coach, however, was especially pleased that his squad captain, loose forward Nick Fenton-Wells, came through the match unscathed – in what was his first start since early February.
“Nick showed tremendous hunger to get back out there,” said Dobson. “As I’ve said before, we are a real team and his determination to get back exemplified that for me.
“We’ve got a few tough selection choices to make this week, but, as I always say, I guess it’s nice to have these kinds of headaches,” he concluded.
By Howard Kahn