"A week is a long time in Rugby," as the old adage goes, and if ever there was a time for this to be true then this is it for the FNB UCT Trojans, as it's do or die time for the young Ikeys against UJ away in Johannesburg on Monday 11 March.
The Trojans, having gone into the Maties game last week confident of their prospects against them were quickly shown how small the margins in the Varsity Cup are by being punished for any mistake they made. After a whirlwind 1st half the Trojans, down 21 points, were never going to win the game but showed how much character and determination they possess by denying Maties a score in the last 20mins even though they were buried deep in their own half for the majority of the time.
UJ u20, who are level on 5 points with the Trojans, will be extremely tough to beat at home and will be determined to beat the Trojans to all but secure a semi-final spot against the winners of the FNB pool. However the grit and determination showed by UCT in the last 20mins against Maties indicate that this Trojans side will not be an easy side to beat and have something left to prove in this years competition. UJ will have to be on top form and will need all the home support they can get to put this Trojans side away.
Minimal changes have been made to the side that played Maties with an injury enforced change at fullback brings in exciting and full of running Joshua Jacobson to replace concussed Tom Bednall while at wing Storm Winter, who did an astounding job coming off the bench to score the sides first try against Maties replaces Dean Stephen who drops to the bench. In the forwards Rushdie Salie moves from the bench to the side of the scrum in the place of Tino Zakeyo.
The Trojans will be looking to their experienced forwards pack, led by Captain Sean Johnstone, to lay the platform that will allow the exciting Trojans backline an opportunity to showcase their sublime running and passing abilities. The Trojans pack struggled up front against a physical Maties side and will be desperate to prove to themselves that they are up for the physical challenge. Much is expected from the front row of Msizi Zondi, Mike Kennedy and David Maasch and will have their work cut out for them against the expected physical onslaught from the UJ pack.
Another man of the match performance is needed from flyhalf Rob Anderson to spark the backline into action and much will depend on the performance of powerful & deceptively skilful outside centre, Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers, when on fire allows the outside backs ample opportunity to showcase the traditional running rugby so famously associated with the blue and white striped varsity sides of yesteryear.
This the last throw of the dice for the UCT Trojans and they will want to demonstrate to themselves that they are capable of bouncing back mentally after such a comprehensive loss at the hands of Maties, and if this week has been anything to go by then this game should live up to expectations of a do or die contest against two passionate sides, equal on points, desperate to make the play-off's.
Date: Monday, March 11
Venue: UJ Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Ricus van den Hoven
FNB UCT TROJANS: 15 Joshua Jacobson, 14 Storm Winter, 13 Brendan Rodgers, 12 Justin Scott, 11 Suwi Chibale, 10 Rob Anderson, 9 Daniel Anderson, 8 Darryl Ndjadila, 7 Rushdie Salie, 6 Sean Johnstone (captain), 5 Jade Kriel, 4 Olwethu Hans, 3 David Maasch, 2 Mike Kennedy, 1 Msizi Zondi