Preview: Varsity Cup Final
The 2014 Varsity Cup title will be decided on Monday when Potchefstroom hosts UCT in its first-ever final.
Apart from the showdown between NWU-Pukke and UCT, the Koshuisrugby Championship final and the promotion/relegation battle between UJ and the UKZN Impi will also be decided at the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds - all televised live on Supersport One.
Coach Robert du Preez's NWU-Pukke side will be hunting their first title when they take on the Ikey Tigers who lifted the trophy the last time they made the final back in 2011.
Both teams secured home semi-final victories, with NWU-Pukke edging the NMMU Madibaz in dramatic style and UCT taking care of old rivals Maties in the wind and rain on the Green Mile.
The hosts will have the psychological advantage of having beaten the Ikeys in Cape Town in the opening round, but coach Kevin Musikanth's team are yet to lose away from home this year so they cannot be taken lightly.
Musikanth has made a major impact in his first season with UCT after two lean years since they won their only title in 2011, and his counterpart Du Preez has made a big impression as well with NWU-Pukke topping the table for the first time.
The teams have had a two-week break since their semifinal victories, but Musikanth said that they have not changed much in terms of their preparation.
"As far as the result is concerned and the approach to the game we have prepared in the same manner as we have always prepared.
"Ultimately if we want to call ourselves Varsity Cup champions we need to have what it takes to go out to Potch and beat Pukke in their own backyard. Our team and coaching staff have tremendous work ethic and we are going all in," he said.
The last available place in next year's Varsity Cup will be decided in the promotion/relegation play-off between John Mitchell's UKZN Impi and an embattled UJ outfit that finished down in seventh position this season.
The Impi went down to CUT in the Varsity Shield Final last week, with the Ixias securing their third title to finally move up to the Varsity Cup, but they will have another crack at promotion in the first game to be played at the Fanie du Toit Sports Ground.
They face a UJ side who find themselves fighting for survival after a disappointing campaign that went downhill after their promising draw with defending champions UP-Tuks in their opening game.
The Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship Final will feature two unbeaten teams as NWU-Pukke's Patria host Steinhoff Heimat from UFS in the curtain-raiser to the Varsity Cup Final.
The visitors will be eager to keep the trophy in Bloemfontein by following in the footsteps of last year's champions Steinhoff Vishuis, but they will have to be on top of their game against a well-drilled Patria outfit who will have the local crowd right behind them.
NWU-Pukke v UCT
(Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds, Potchefstroom - Kick-off: 19.00 live on Supersport)
NWU-Pukke: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Edmar Marais, 13 Jaap Pienaar, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9, Tiaan Dorfling (captain), 8 Juan Language, 7 Henro-Pierre Swart, 6 Rhyk Welgemoed, 5 Francois Robbertse, 4 Peet van der Walt, 3 Nhlanhla Ngcamu, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Philip de Wet, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Rhyno Smith, 22 Lucien Cupido, John-Roy Jenkinson.
UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem, 8 Michael Botha, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Shaun McDonald, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Joel Carew.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Robin Murray, 18 Kyle Kriel, 19 Guy Alexander, 20 James Alexander, 21 Martin Sauls, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 David Maasch.
Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Francois Pretorius, Jaco Kotze
TMO: Johan Greeff