Plenty At Stake in Varsity Cup
Never before in the previous four years of FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International action has there been so much at stake ahead of Round Three of the tournament.
As things stand now, after two rounds of matches, there are just two unbeaten sides in the 2012 competition, FNB UP-Tuks and the FNB Maties; with last year's champions, FNB UCT, still without a win.
It has been quite a tough start for the Ikeys, leaving coach Kevin Foote scratching his head a bit trying to find some answers, but the likes of Tuks, Maties, FNB Shimlas and FNB NWU-Pukke have been quick to pounce - much like hungry vultures around a carcass.
"It's not great seeing ourselves sitting in seventh place," admitted Foote, whose team travels to Tshwane to take on FNB TUT in Round Three. "(And) it's something we (obviously) want to put right."
Whilst Shimlas and FNB UJ - the teams who have been UCT - are hardly minnows of the Varsity Cup, one would perhaps have expected the Ikeys to have won at least one match by now which currently sees them trailing the sixth-placed FNB Madibaz who shocked both friend and foe by turning over Shimlas on their own turf this past Monday.
Foote warned: "I guess, unfairly, not many would have expected NMMU to have won in Bloemfontein, but it goes to show that you cannot take anything for granted in the Varsity Cup - be it this season... or in years gone by.
"There will be more shocks in the 2012 Varsity Cup - I just hope our shocks are over!"
Despite their incredible win over Shimlas - thanks to two tries in the last three minutes of play - the Men from Port Elizabeth have promised not to let their achievement get in the way of the job at hand; a trip to Johannesburg to take on UJ.
"It has certainly given the team more energy and faith in themselves and it was just reward for our loyal fans," admitted Madibaz coach Brent Janse van Rensburg, "but we know that we have to keep playing with that same passion and pride moving forward!"
UJ will be a tough nut to crack on their home ground - especially after attracting a 6,500-strong crowd against the Ikeys - and also because of the small matter of having a top-four place within their grasp.
The Men in Orange are presently in fifth place on the log, just one point behind the third- and fourth-placed Shimlas and NWU-Pukke (respectively), with the UP-Tuks and the Maties in first and second place, respectively.
Of course, those top four teams are up against each other in Round Three (Maties v Shimlas and UP-Tuks v NWU-Pukke) - which means there could, and should, be some movement at the top of the log during on Monday.
For instance, should UJ beat the Madibaz - in Monday's first televised match - they could climb as high as third place on the overall standings; provided, of course, that Tuks (in the other televised encounter) and the Maties both win at home. That - in turn - would see Shimlas and NWU-Pukke lose ground to their Round Three hosts, allowing not just UJ, but also the bottom-of-the-table Ikeys, to make up some much-needed lost ground.
But, as we have learnt so far this season, trying to predict Varsity Cup results is quite a hazardous occupation. So let's just wait till Monday... shall we?
Varsity Cup fixtures and team line-ups for Monday, February 20:
FNB UJ v FNB NMMU
UJ Stadium (Johannesburg)
Kick-off: 5pm (Live on SuperSport One)
UJ: 15 Worsie Kotze, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Luan Steenkamp, 12 Divan van Zyl, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Guy Cronjé, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Justin Wheeler (captain), 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Johan van Deventer, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Jaco Vermeulen, 2 Shaun Malton, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Niabulo Mkize, 18 Marnus van Huyssteen, 19 Dylan Peterson, 20 Jacques Pretorius, 21 Justin St. Jerry, 22 Aubrey McDonald, 23 Heinrich Terblanche.
NMMU: 15 Gerrit Smith, 14 Mayibuye Ndwandwa, 13 Quinton Crocker (vice-captain), 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anton Verster, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Charlie Purdon, 8 Jaco Swanepoel (captain), 7 Timothy Agaba, 6 Ulrich Pretorius, 5 André Goosen, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ross David-Anderson, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey.
Replacements: 16 Kobus Greeff, 17 Gareth Hartley, 18 Schalk Oelofse, 19 Jaco Otto, 20 Marlin Ruiters, 21 Bradley Kretzman, 22 Devon Lailvaux, 23 Phillip Nel.
FNB UP-Tuks v FNB NWU-Pukke
Tuks Rugby Stadium (Pretoria)
Kick-off: 7pm (Live on SuperSport One)
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Dabeon Draghoender, 11 Hayden Groepes, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Lohan Jacobs, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Okkie Kruger, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Stephan Pretorius, 2 Jacques Momberg, 1 Sabelo Nhlapo.
Replacements: 16 Zane Botha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Sthembiso Mlongo, 19 Lean Schwartz, 20 Clayton Stewart, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Riaan Britz, 23 Basil Short.
NWU-Pukke: 15 SW Oosthuizen, 14 Andrew van Wyk, 13 Hennie Scorbinski, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht (captain), 11 Joe Seerane, 10 Gerhard Nortier, 9 Tiaan Dorfling, 8 Juan 'Spanner' Pretorius, 7 Ernie Strydom, 6 Philip de Wet, 5 Victor Kruger, 4 Siyanda Ndlovu, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 JC Oberholzer, 1 Henry Scharneck.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Zander de Kock, 18 Lodewyk Uys, 19 Siya Mdaka, 20 Andries Botha, 21 Ruan Jacobs, 22 Terswin Raubenheimer, 23 Mashudu Mafela.
FNB Maties vs. FNB Shimlas
Danie Craven Stadium (Stellenbosch)
Maties: 15 André Smith, 14 Ryan Nell, 13 Wessel Coetzee, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Dean Hammand, 10 André Kemp, 9 Donald Stevens, 8 Tertius Daniller, 7 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 6 Sam Mabombo, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Hein van der Merwe, 2 Gareth Light, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Alfred Ries, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 JP Swanepoel, 20 Boela Abrahams, 21 Jarryd Buys, 22 Clearance Khumalo, 23 Os Hamman.
Shimlas: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Divandré Strydom, 13 Robbie van Schalkwyk, 12 Earl Snyman, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Rynhardt Erwee, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Fanie van der Walt, 7 Oupa Nohoje, 6 Pieter Labuschagnè (captain), 5 JC Astle, 4 Wilken Heyns, 3 Ian Potgieter, 2 PW van Vuuren, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 John-Henry Harris, 18 Wessel Zietsman, 19 Armand Koster, 20 Pieter Rademan, 21 Erick Colyn, 22 Franna du Toit, 23 Stephan Kotze.
FNB TUT Vikings vs. FNB UCT
TUT Stadium (Tshwane)
TUT: 15 Hagen Mumba, 14 Ruan van Loo, 13 Rikus de Beer, 12 Brahm du Preez, 11 Craig Pheiffer, 10 Hansie Graaff, 9 Nico Smuts, 8 Wikus Botes, 7 Yves Basiya, 6 Ryno Coetzee, 5 JJ Breett, 4 Gavin Engelbrecht, 3 Zandre Grobler, 2 Johan Pieterse (captain), 1 Coert van Gerve.
Replacements: 16 Dandre van der Westhuyzen, 17 Nico van den Heever, 18 Peter Matthews, 19 Ryno Lopes, 20 Manny Raposo, 21 Melcolm Griffiths, 22 Craig van Rooi, 23 Nathi Sethusse.
UCT: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Tiger Bax, 12 Michael Morris, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Nick Holton, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Zandy Macdonald, 6 Ntsolo Setlaba (captain), 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 Brad Bosman, 3 Francois van Wyk, 2 Dayne Jans, 1 Wes Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Adriaan Botha, 18 James Kilroe, 19 Greg Mallett, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Paul Cohen, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Digby Webb.
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