Preview Varsity Cup Round 5 – Crunch time

FNB Maties and FNB UCT, the two top teams in the Varsity Cup at present, face entirely different scenarios in Round Five of the 2010 FNB Varsity Cup. The Maties will be up against their so-called ‘bogey team’ in the Varsity Cup, FNB Tuks (at 4.30pm), in Stellenbosch, whilst UCT will be travelling to Johannesburg to go up against the giantkilling University of Johannesburg, who – last week – upset the Pukke in Potchefstroom.

Stellenbosch, the back-to-back Varsity Cup champions, last played against Tuks in the 2009 Varsity Cup semifinals; winning that encounter 38-14 to progress to a second successive final and, eventually, a second title in a row.

However, just the week before, Tuks beat the Maties in league action in Stellenbosch, having previously drawn with them in their opening league match of 2008 and losing a thrilling semifinal later that year in extra-time – that after the scores were level at the end of regulation time.

“I guess you could say they’re a ‘bogey team’ in the league stage of the Varsity Cup,” Maties inside centre Stephan van der Merwe told when asked about Tuks’ results against Maties.

“But I don’t think one can look back at previous encounters and use that as a yardstick… No matter what, Monday is going to be a tough game and we need to go into the match with the proper mindset – otherwise Tuks will be all over us.”

Van der Merwe’s coach, Chean Roux, believes the Men from Pretoria will “give nothing less than 200%” come Monday and he is expecting a dog-fight against a team that cannot really afford to lose as semifinal qualification nears.

“Tuks will be like a cornered animal… and they will play accordingly and, thereby, above themselves,” said Roux. “It’s not quite the business-end of the Varsity Cup (yet), but it’s getting there and we cannot afford to slip up now.”

Both UJ and UCT will be as hungry as the Maties and Tuks in their fixture at the UJ Stadium – at 6.30pm – but, also, for entirely different reasons.

UJ will be hoping to build on their outstanding 23-22 victory in Potchefstroom, whereas UCT will know that another away win could just ease the pressure for them ahead of two tough remaining battles in Round Six (v Maties, away) and Round Seven (v Tuks, home).

Like UJ, the Ikeys also claimed a win last week, however; their 25-19 victory over a brave, but outclassed TUT Vikings outfit was regarded by many – not least UCT head coach John Dobson – as one of their worst-ever performances in this tournament.

“I think this was our worst performance in our Varsity Cup history, but hopefully that is now out of the way,” Dobson told earlier this week. “Hopefully, also, our players now realise that there are no ‘gimmes’ in this tournament and they have to turn up every week – no matter who they’re playing against.”

But bad performance or not, UCT are still unbeaten in the 2010 Varsity Cup – along with the Maties – and they will be hoping to pitch up in Stellenbosch on March 8 with that unbeaten record on the line once again.

“We are underdogs against this good, all-round UJ side (in Johannesburg),” said Dobson, “but we are so keen to play our first game with no wind and, hopefully, for the first time this season we can play our style of rugby [without the wind].”

With the Maties-Tuks and UJ-UCT matches the games of Week Five – both, ironically, are being televised – FNB NMMU and the FNB TUT Vikings will be in search of log points when they take on the Pukke and Shimlas, respectively, on Monday.

NMMU and TUT have propped up the Varsity Cup table since 2008 – with NMMU ending last in 2008 and TUT taking away the Wooden Spoon last year – but the former, in particular, are pushing hard for a first victory since March 2008, having come very close last week in Cape Town against the Ikeys.

“You make your own luck and the lack of it is what has put us short of a win every time,” said TUT assistant coach Jimmy Watt after a second successive close loss (against UCT this time, having gone down 30-42 to Tuks the week before).

“We gained a lot of self-confidence from our last two performances, but need to take it further now. And a win will do us the world of good.”

Whilst NMMU (v Pukke) and TUT (v Shimlas) will be working hard for their first wins of the season, spare a thought for their opponents who are in a no-win situation, basically, against sides that many would expect them to beat.

Pukke, of course, lost at home to UJ last week and Shimlas are on a two-game losing streak – both having, at one stage this season, set the pace near the top of the log. Now positioned at fifth (Pukke) and sixth (Shimlas) place on the Varsity Cup standings, further losses could see their semifinal hopes slip away – despite two rounds of action still remaining.

“UJ deserve credit for their win,” said Pukke coach Rudy Joubert after his side’s second loss of the season – on Monday. “But we have only ourselves to blame for causing our own downfall.”

The fixtures and team line-ups for Monday, March 1, 2010:

FNB Maties v FNB Tukkies, Danie Craven Stadium

Kick-off: 4.30pm (Live on SuperSport One)

Referee: Luke Burger

The teams:

Maties: 15 Jonathan Francke, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Stephan van der Merwe, 11 Tythan Adams, 10 André Kemp, 9 Johan Herbst, 8 Tertius Daniller, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Marinus Pretorius, 4 Andrew Prior, 3 Lourens Adriaanse (captain), 2 Andrew Crausaz, 1 Johan Roets.

Replacements: 16 Gareth Light, 17 Mike De Neuilly-Rice, 18 Cameron Peverett, 19 Sam Mabombo, 20 Johan Laker, 21 Adnaan Oesman, 22 Wilhelm Loock, 23 Buhle Mxunuywa.

Tuks: 15 Justin van Staden, 14 Dirk Dippenaar, 13 Ernie Kruger, 12 Gertjie Smith, 11 Aaron Denenga, 10 Shaun Davids (captain), 9 Ignick Windvogel, 8 Coenie Pieters, 7 Tendaiyi Chikukwa, 6 Louwrens Lombard, 5 Francois van Wyk, 4 Tiaan Nel, 3 Peet Vorster, 2 Chris Crous, 1 Ettienne Breytenbach.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Musa Tukela, 18 Joe Walters, 19 Marius Weber, 20 Wesleigh Marais, 21 Fanie Booysen, 22 Gerhard van der Merwe, 23 Hein Viljoen.

FNB UJ v FNB UCT, UJ Stadium

Kick-off: 6.30pm (Live on SuperSport One)

Referee: Archie Sehlako

The teams:

UJ: 15 Earl Lewis, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Clinton de Klerk (captain), 12 Luhan Steenkamp, 11 Lola Waka, 10 Ryno Luus, 9 Jaco ‘Haas’ Snyman, 8 Hennie Killian, 7 Wiehan Roos, 6 JP Janse van Rensburg, 5 Marnus van Huyssteen, 4 Martin Lombard, 3 Clint van Niekerk, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Charl du Plessis.

Replacements: 16 Brett Claassens, 17 JP Olivier, 18 Corné Cordier, 19 Quintin Minnaar, 20 Danny Botha, 21 André Smith, 22 Aubrey McDonald, 23 Jaco Claassen.

UCT: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Pete Haw, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Sean van Tonder, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Matt Rosslee, 9 Stu Commins (captain), 8 JJ Gagiano, 7 Zandi Macdonald, 6 André Goosen, 5 Donovan Armand, 4 Levi Odendaal, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Dayne Jans, 1 Ash Wells.

Replacements: 16 Matthew Page, 17 Chris Heidberg, 18 Mike Ledwidge, 19 Sam Peter, 20 JP Robert, 21 Douglas Mallett, 22 Mark Esterhuizen, 23 Wesley Chetty.

FNB NMMU v FNB Pukke, Xerox NMMU Stadium

Kick-off: 6.30pm

Referee: Bongani Maloni

The teams:

NMMU: 15 Carl van Niekerk, 14 Oscar Mazaka, 13 Hugo van Heerden, 12 Luvuyo Mhlobiso, 11 Williams Heydenrych, 10 Willem Laubscher, 9 Luso Booi (captain), 8 Samuel Borsaah, 7 JP Kellerman, 6 Thomasau Forbes, 5 Mathew Lutge, 4 Jannie Fourie, 3 Pierre Hammand, 2 Werner Kapp, 1 Tyron Williams.

Replacements: 16 Chariel van Jaarsveld, 17 Thabiso Mgomezulu, 18 De Wet De Lange, 19 Kemsley Wesso, 20 Wade Roos, 21 Christopher Juries, 22 Stefan de Klerk, 23 Hanre Basson.

Pukke: 15 Theuns Kotzé, 14 Andrew van Wyk, 13 Kempie Rautenbach, 12 Wouter Watermeyer, 11 Johannes Seerane, 10 Dauw Steyn, 9 Andries Mahoney, 8 PJ van Zyl, 7 Siya Mdaka, 6 Jan Rose, 5 Markus Fourie, 4 Dirco Rautenbach (captain), 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 BW van Dyk, 1 Dewald Coetzee.

Replacements: 16 Stoffel Duvenage, 17 BG Uys, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Jaco Lötter, 20 Willem Barnard, 21 Wensley Scott, 22 Dane Johnson, 23 Martin Dreyer.

FNB Shimlas v FNB TUT, Shimla Park

Kick-off: 6.30pm

Referee: Dilbert November

The teams:

Shimlas: The FNB Shimlas team: 15 AN Other, 14 Divandré Strydom, 13 Earl Snyman, 12 Wayne Stevens (captain), 11 Beast Ndwandwa, 10 Reinhardt Erwee, 9 Jaco Colyn, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Chris Dry, 6 Hanno Pieterse, 5 Wilken Heyns, 4 Joubert Horn, 3 Ian Potgieter, 2 Hans Grobler, 1 Charles Marais.

Replacements: 16 Gert Erasmus, 17 James Hellawell, 18 Lebo Zietsman, 19 Sybrand Mostert, 20 Marlin Ruiters, 21 Johan van Schalkwyk, 22 Rashied Isaacs, 23 Johnny Harris.

TUT: 15 Hansie Graaff, 14 Johan Swartz, 13 Simphiwe Mtkulu, 12 Lutho Nyeka, 11 Thabo Motau, 10 Jaco Oosthuizen, 9 Manny Raposo, 8 Wikus Botes, 7 Emile Verster (captain), 6 Vincent Gwavu, 5 Dewald van Deventer, 4 Johan Steenkamp, 3 Braam van der Merwe, 2 Dean Muir, 1 Juan Pike.

Replacements: 16 Alfred Khoza, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Werner Lourens, 19 Ryno Lopes, 20 Theunis Schoeman, 21 Adilo Courtiers, 22 Ruan van Loo, 23 Marco van Deventer.

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