Madibaz stepped up their game
VARSITY CUP REACTION: NMMU-Madibaz took a step in the right direction in their Varsity Cup opener on Monday, which delighted head coach David Maidza.
Maidza had cause for concern after watching his side struggle in their pre-season encounter against Maties. However, he was pleasantly surprised with the way his charges went about their business against UCT-Ikeys, which saw them bag a bonus-point victory.
"The team put in a good shift [against UCT], after struggling a bit in the pre-season. The gear we went into was certainly a step up and that's what we are looking for every week to continue improving on our plan," Maidza told rugby365.com.
However, things certainly did not go their way in the opening 20 minutes of the match but they were able to regroup during the first strategic break.
"We identified that UCT rely on ball possession and spreading the opposition defence, so we set our plan to ensure we are in control of possession and that we nullify them running at us. However, we fell into their trap in the opening minutes.
"We drifted off our plan and they placed us under a lot of pressure but then we regrouped and the team responded well. There are some good, mature players in the squad who took responsibility of getting things back on track.
"Everyone put their hand up and made sure we ended up sticking to the structure and systems. The control was much better from that point, which ultimately led us to asking more questions with ball-in-hand and not giving possession away too quickly.
"We then put them under pressure and we tried to get off the line much quicker defensively. So that combination allowed us a little bit of time to get points on the board," he added.
Maidza was under no illusion that things will only get tougher from this point, starting with a trip to Potchefstroom to take on defending champions Pukke.
"It was a good start but we know that this competition is won in April, so we have to make sure that we put our best foot forward in each game. We will discuss a way forward for what will be an immense challenge against Pukke and we will be more than glad to get into that and see how we stand against the best in the competition.
"We cannot rest on our laurels. Yes, we picked up five points but there are seven more goals to achieve on route to the playoffs," he stated.
By Tauriq Ebrahim