Ikeys are much better than the results suggest
Although their fortunes have differed this season, there will be no lack of passion when Cape rivals FNB UCT and FNB Maties meet at the Green Mile on Monday.
The Ikeys are yet to record their first victory this season, so they will be looking for some inspiration when they welcome the log-leading Maties who have won all four of their matches thus far.
Ikeys coach Kevin Foote admitted that his team have been frustrated by a series of close losses, but added that they are looking forward to the challenge that Maties will present.
"It has been a bit frustrating so far this season as we have been close, but just haven't been able to finish it off. Maties have created a good winning culture, playing them is always a massive challenge and the guys know that it is a huge honour to play in this match," he said.
Maties coach Chris Rossouw said that he felt the Ikeys have been very unlucky in their games so far and pointed out that they have collected quite a few losing bonus points.
"The Ikeys have had a tough season, but they are much better than the results suggest," he said. "They are a very proud side and will definitively be a big challenge for our side."
"The Ikeys have a very balanced side, and can shift the ball across the park when they find their rhythm," he added.
As usual, the off-field banter has been fierce, with the two Varsities engaging in a battle on Twitter to see which side has more support. Although that will count for little when hostilities begin in Cape Town, with the action televised live on SuperSport One at 4.45pm.
In the other televised game on Monday, FNB UFS-Shimlas will be desperate to bounce back from their run of three consecutive defeats when they face FNB NWU-Pukke in Bloemfontein.
The Free State side went down to FNB NMMU in Port Elizabeth last week to add to home defeats to Maties and UP-Tuks, so they will be desperate to get their campaign back on track against a NWU-Pukke side that will be high on confidence following their tense victory over UCT in Potchefstroom.
In Pretoria, UP-Tuks will be out to restore their dented pride against newcomers FNB Wits, after their last-minute defeat to Maties last week.
The defending champions find themselves in fourth position in the standings after that heartbreaking loss, and they will be focused on taking a full-house of five log points off Wits who are struggling to find their feet in their debut season.
The NMMU Madibaz's impressive home form will be put to the test when they host a rampant FNB UJ who have not lost since their defeat to Maties in Stellenbosch in Round One.
The Eastern Cape side showed plenty of fighting spirit to overhaul UFS-Shimlas in the late stages of their clash last week, and they will have their hands full once more when they take on a UJ outfit that has built up some impressive momentum with three consecutive bonus-point wins.
In the Varsity Shield, the FNB TUT Vikings will be looking for their second victory of the competition when they head to Pietermaritzburg to face the FNB UKZN Impi, who recorded a morale-boosting win over Fort Hare in Alice last week.
Log-leaders FNB CUT will be intent on continuing their unbeaten start to the season in Bellville where they will face Peter de Villiers's side who have not dropped a game at home this year.
In the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship there will be just one match on Monday with the Steinhoff Cobras from UCT taking on Steinhoff Bastion from UJ in the curtain-raiser for the Varsity Cup match.
Bastion got their campaign off to a flying start with a resounding victory over Wits outfit Steinhoff Commerce, but they face a much tougher assignment against the Cobras on their home track.
The FNB Varsity Young Guns competition will shadow the Varsity Cup, with an identical set of fixtures which are set to whet the appetites of the crowds.
There will be three curtain-raisers on Monday, with UFS-Shimlas meeting NWU-Pukke in Bloemfontein, UP-Tuks taking on Wits in Pretoria and NMMU facing UJ in Port Elizabeth, whilst the UCT and Maties junior sides will do battle directly after the Varsity Cup clash.
FNB Varsity Cup fixtures and team line-ups - Monday, March 4
FNB UCT v FNB Maties, UCT Rugby Fields - 4.45pm (Live on Supersport One)
UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Dylan Sage, 13 David Ambunya, 12 Liam Bax, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Bradley Bosman, 7 Ntsolo Setlaba, 6 Derek Asbun, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Kyle Kriel, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Johannes de Klerk, 19 Jason Klaasen, 20 Rick Schroeder, 21 Richard Stewart, 22 Paul Cohen, 23 Digby Webb.
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Dean Grant, 9 James Alexander, 8 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Beyers de Villers, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Neethling Gericke, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Charl de Villiers, 17 Hein van der Merwe, 18 Jurgen Streicher, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Andries Truter, 21 JH Potgieter, 22 JP Lewis, 23 Brendan Pitzer.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
FNB UFS-Shimlas v FNB NWU-Pukke, Xerox Shimla Park - 7pm (Live on Supersport One)
UFS-Shimlas: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Maphutha Dolo, 13 Robbie van Schalkwyk, 12 Stephan van der Merwe, 11 Divandre Strydom, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Erik le Roux, 7 Teboho Mohoje (captain), 6 Henco Venter, 5 JC Astle, 4 Fanie van der Walt, 3 Carl van Heerden, 2 Elandre Hugget, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 JC van Wyk, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Lebo Zietsman, 19 Freddie Ngoza, 20 Hlanlha Hlongwane, 21 Sethu Tom, 22 Francois du Toit, 23 Luan de Bruin.
NWU-Pukke: 15 Hoffman Maritz, 14 SW Oosthuizen, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Gerhard Nortier, 9 Jaco Grobler, 8 SJ Niemand, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Phillip de Wet, 5 Victor Kruger (captain), 4 Danie Jordaan, 3 Herman Basson, 2 JC Oberholzer, 1 Martin Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Arno Ebersohn, 18 Molotsi Bouwer, 19 HP Swart, 20 Tiaan Dorfling, 21 Justin Botha, 22 Rowayne Beukman, 23 Mashudu Mafela.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
FNB UP-Tuks v FNB Wits, Tuks Rugby Stadium - 7pm
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Handre Pollard, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Basil Short, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Schalk Van Heerden, 19 Wesley Kotze, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Riaan Britz, 22 Piet Lindeque, 23 Stephan Pretorius.
Wits: 15 Riaan Arends, 14 Jeremiah Latana, 13 Kayde Fisher, 12 Jared Meyer, 11 Jacques Erasmus, 10 Kyle Peyper, 9 Mathew Torrance, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Carel Greef, 6 Juan-Pierre Jonck, 5 Charles Baggot, 4 Devin Montgomery (captain), 3 Phakamilu Zuma, 2 Katlego Kgame, 1 Hannes Ludik.
Replacements: 16 Rory Anderson, 17 Thato Mavundla, 18 Peter van Biljon, 19 Shai Korb, 20 Joshua Durbach, 21 Greg Blom, 22 Michael Sephton-Poultney, 23 Ferdinand Kelly.
Referee: Jaco Kotze
FNB NMMU v FNB UJ, NMMU Stadium - 7pm
NMMU: 15 Jarred Buys, 14 Gerhardus Smith, 13 Hermanus van Lill, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Logan Basson, 10 Justin Van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Louis Fourie, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Lizo Gqoboka, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Gareth Hartley, 18 Ferdinand Gerber, 19 Mzwanale Zito, 20 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 21 Lonwabo Ntleki, 22 Yamkela Ngam, 23 Dexter Fahey.
UJ: 15 Kobus De Kock, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Bradley Moolman, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Divan van Zyl, 9 Vian van der Watt, 8 RJ Liebenberg, 7 Justin Wheeler (captain), 6 Kobus Porter, 5 David Antonites, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Wiseman Kamanga.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Wessel du Rand, 18 Johan van der Hoogt, 19 Thilip Marole, 20 Jacques Pretorius, 21 Adriaan Vermeulen, 22 PJ Walters, 23 Njabulo Mkize.
Referee: Gerrie de Bruin
FNB Varsity Shield fixtures - Monday, March 4
FNB UWC v FNB CUT, UWC Sport Stadium - 7pm
FNB UKZN v FNB TUT, Peter Booysen Sports Park - 7pm
Steinhoff Koshuisrugby championship fixture - Monday, March 4
Steinhoff UCT v Steinhoff UJ, UCT Rugby Fields - 3pm
FNB Varsity Young Guns fixtures - Monday, March 4
FNB Shimlas v FNB NWU-Pukke, Xerox Shimla Park - 4.45pm
FNB UP-Tuks v FNB Wits, Tuks Rugby Stadium - 4.45pm
FNB NMMU v FNB UJ, NMMU Stadium - 4.45pm
FNB UCT v Steinhoff Maties Jrs, UCT Rugby Fields - 7pm