The Ikey Tigers were looking to take back the Green Mile with their game against Shimlas on Monday. And reclaim it they did, with a massive 25-5 win in the seventh round of the Varsity Cup.
Although the team currently lie second on the overall log, the two matches they have lost, against NWU-Pukke and Tuks, were at home. Understandably, grabbing that win at home was important for the side.
As UCT coach Kevin Musikanth said, “we really wanted to do something special for the Ikey supporters. We knew Shimlas would be really tough. They are a well-coached team and probably were our toughest home game.”
Musikanth speaks about just how proud both he and staff are of the boys given that “ the entire squad went Warrior mode and committed to the game and the plan and the result finally went our way,” he said.
In terms of how the team were feeling after the game, given the massive win, fullback Ross Jones-Davies explained: “It was great to win in front of our home support, and important for us in moving forward. We managed the inevitable wind very well, especially in the first half.”
The last game UCT lost was their fourth round match against Tuks. Speaking about what was done differently in the Shimlas game, the coach said “we were more successful in our attack and utilized our opportunities when were in the Shimlas half better that against Tuks, what perhaps some don’t realize is that we had far more opportunities to score points when we played Tuks than most think we just didn’t finish, so since then we have worked hard on our finishing and the fact that we have scored 9 tries since that game prove that the hard work and the buy in from the boys has paid off.”
Jones-Davies adds to this by focusing on their adjusting style of play, “we focused on stretching the opposition with our natural running and passing game. We were also more clinical and took our chances when we needed to,” he said.
Both during Monday’s game and during UCT’s win over UJ, the Ikeys scrum has been a force to be reckoned with. Musikanth explains that this has become a massive area of strength for the team as he said “Paul ‘The Godfather’ Day has worked wonders with the Ikey scrum. This has become a huge weapon for us, and so for us to see the boys standing up to the challenges against bigger packs on the park makes coaches exceptionally proud.”
When speaking about the team’s areas of strength during the game, the fullback agrees with his coach saying “our scrum was superb and has become a real weapon of ours. As backline players, we couldn’t have asked for a better platform to work off.
He went on “our defence was also good, it’s something we take a lot of pride in and to hold a free flowing side like Shimlas to just the one try was particularly pleasing. “
Despite their brilliant performance on the field, coach Musikanth insists that there is something bigger at play when the team step out onto the pitch. “the heart that beats as a collective, the willingness of the boys to play as a team and be selfless on the field. That is the biggest strength of this team.”
Next up, the Ikeys take on Wits in the final round before the semi-finals which they are within touching distance of.