PREVIEW: Varsity Cup, Round Four
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The tussle for a semifinal spot is well underway as we approach the halfway point of the 2017 Varsity Cup competition and this round will certainly separate the contenders from the pretenders.
All but one side -UP-Tuks - has tasted defeat in the opening three rounds of action and there will be plenty of added vigour to this round, with most of the pre-tournament favourites looking to bounce back from defeats in the previous round.
Shimlas managed to retain their spot on top of the log and will certainly want to bounce back following their 7-22 defeat at the hands of UCT, in their first home fixture of the competition. However, bouncing back from such a defeat is easier said than done as they face the unpredictable CUT-Ixias in the Bloemfontein derby.
CUT, who are undergoing a rebuilding phase under head coach Tiaan Liebenberg have not been at their best and are yet to record a positive result after two defeats, which leaves them bottom of the log. But this is a derby and there is no need for more motivation as they look to claim the bragging rights for the year.
In Potchefstroom, NWU-Pukke are also coming off the back of a hefty defeat - 9-31 to Maties in Stellenbosch. That defeat ended their unbeaten run and have left them occupying fourth place on the log - they are however tied on points with Maties and Tuks.
They play hosts to UCT-Ikeys and the Cape side will be licking their lips to pick up where they left off with Shimlas in Round Three. Ikeys are the only other side in the competition with a new coach and have thus far claimed two victories from their three matches, to find themselves in fifth spot - just one point behind Pukke.
We will surely see another sold out Danie Craven Stadium on Monday when Maties welcome the NMMU-Madibaz to Stellenbosch. Maties gave a performance worthy of the favourites tag in Round Three when they demolished Pukke and shot up to second place on the log - one point behind Shimlas.
The Madibaz are an unpredictable side though and showed they are here to compete in the opening round with a victory over the Ikeys, however, they have failed to produce the same performance in their subsequent two matches, and find themselves in seventh place on the log.
The round ends off with a tasty encounter between a young, inexperienced UJ side and the only unbeaten team in the competition, Tuks.
The visitors will be high on confidence when they make the trip to Johannesburg following their 33-16 victory over the Madibaz in Round Three but coach Pote Human was far from happy with the performance on the night. Tuks are a settled and experienced side, so they will certainly come out with a lot more impetus this time around.
UJ had the luxury of having a bye in Round Three and it may have come at the perfect time for Werner Janse van Rensburg's group. Last year's semifinalists suffered back-to-back defeats in the opening two rounds of the competition and will want to repay their loyal supporters with a performance worthy of being contenders.
In the Varsity Shield competition, UKZN-Impi are still hurting from their massive 21-42 away defeat to newcomers Walter Sisulu in their opening match of the competition. They are at home this time though and welcome the University of Fort Hare.
UFH went down in the first round to WSU (12-33) but then hit back with a morale-boosting 32-31 victory over UWC in Alice in Round Two.
In Pretoria, TUT-Vikings may have home ground advantage but are up against the surprise package WSU. The Vikings enjoyed a bye week during Round Two after claiming a narrow 16-12 victory over Rhodes in the first round.
WSU will be looking to make it three wins from three and solidify their spot at the top of the table.
The Shield action comes to an end in Cape Town where UWC welcome newcomers Rhodes to the UWC Stadium. Rhodes have been edged out on both occasions and will be targeting this fixture to claim their first victory of the campaign.
UWC, on the hand, need to show their mental toughness to bounce back from that narrow defeat to UFH. They will certainly be confident though as they managed to claw their way back in the second half of that fixture, having found themselves trailing 13-32 at the half-time interval.
WSU occupy first spot on the log with 10 points, UWC are second with seven while CPUT (third) and Fort Hare (fourth) have amassed five points each. TUT (fifth), Rhodes (sixth) and UKZN-Impi (seventh) make up the rest of the positions.
All Monday's fixtures!
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas
(Bloemfontein, Kick-off: 16.45, 14.45 GMT)
CUT-Ixias: 15 Darren Adonis, 14 Ruan Wasserman, 13 Waldo Putter, 12 Louis Nel, 11 Olwethu Ndakisa, 10 Martin Jacobs, 9 Ruben Heymans, 8 Stefan Kruger, 7 Cornelius van Niekerk, 6 Dean Rossouw, 5 Pieter Venter, 4 Kian Skippers, 3 Hendrik Smit, 2 Stefan Jacobs, 1 Jean Volkwyn.
Replacements: 16 Andries Olivier, 17 Stefan van Schalkwyk, 18 Kyle Ess, 19 Mosoeu Maruping, 20 Dian Dry, 21 Dean Jacobs, 22 Denver Kleu, 23 Brendan Verster.
Shimlas: 15 Sechaba Motsoela, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Lihleli Xoli, 12 Stephan Janse van Rensburg (captain), 11 Frederick Mason, 10 Nicholas Naude, 9 Dian Badenhorst, 8 Wilhelm Kotzenberg, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Neil Claassen, 4 Raymond Woest, 3 Cornelius Kramer, 2 Hanno Snyman, 1 Kwenzokuhle Blose.
Replacements: 16 Albrecht Steyn, 17 Johan Kotze, 18 Thabisdo Msiza, 19 Ruben Schoeman, 20 Musa Mahlasela, 21 Albertus Pretorius, 22 Vuyani Maqina, 23 Niell Stannard.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: JJ Wagner
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys
(Potchefstroom, Kick-off: 18.30, 16.30 GMT)
NWU-Pukke: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Jimmy Mpailane, 13 Elden Schoeman, 12 Jacob Pienaar, 11 Justin Newman, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Marno Redelinghuys, 7 Jan Venter, 6 Marcel Henn, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Neil Morrison, 3 Kabelo Motloung, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Rudolph van Deventer.
Replacements: 16 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 17 Dewald Dekker, 18 Morné Strydom, 19 Estehan Visagie, 20 Muziwandile Mazibuko, 21 Caleb Louw, 22 Nkululeko Mcuma, 23 Lungelo Gosa.
UCT-Ikeys: 15 Lohan Lubbe, 14 Rayno Mapoe, 13 Tristan Mouton, 12 Rico Lategan, 11 Joel Smith, 10 Robert Anderson, 9 Stefano de Gouveia, 8 Nyasha Tarusenga, 7 Luke Stringer, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 Gary Porter, 4 Duncan Saffy, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Cuan Hablutzel, 1 Wayrin Losper.
Replacements: 16 Martin Chandler, 17 William Day, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Kuyenzeka Xaba, 20 Suwilanji Chibale, 21 Sanele Malwane, 22 Gerard Pieterse, 23 Hilio de Abreu.
Referee: Ricus van der Hoven
Assistant referees: Local
Maties v NNMU-Madibaz
(Stellenbosch, Kick-off: 18.30, 16.30 GMT)
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Jan Venter, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Brendon Nell, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Johannes Momsen, 4 John Groenewald, 3 Jacobus van der Merwe, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Johan Kirsten, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Johann van Niekerk, 21 Logan Boonzaaier, 22 Barend Smit, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.
NMMU-Madibaz: 15 Lindelwe Zungu, 14 Athenkosi Mayinje, 13 Siphumelele Msutwana, 12 Andile Jho, 11 Ivan-John du Preez, 10 Thomas Kean, 9 Rouche Nel, 8 Kevin Kaba, 7 Henry Brown, 6 Stephanus Nieuwoudt, 5 Gerrit Huisamen, 4 Wynand Grassmann, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 JP Jamieson, 1 Xandre Vos.
Replacements: 16 Jedwin Harty, 17 Tembelihle Yase, 18 Nicolas Roebeck, 19 Robert Izaks, 20 Robert Izaks, 21 Lovu Claassen, 22 Jordan Koekemoer, 23 Jixie Molapo.
Referee: Francois Pretorius
Assistant referees: Local
UJ v UP-Tuks
(Johannesburg, Kick-off: 19.00, 17.00 GMT)
UJ: 15 Ewan Adams, 14 Peter-John Walters, 13 Aphiwe Dyanti, 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Tshegofatso Ramaboea, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Johan Esterhuizen, 8 Willem Massyn, 7 Adrian Bester, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 Estian Enslin, 4 Reinhaard Nothnagel, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Johannes Snyman, 1 Waldo Wiedeman.
Replacements: 16 Le Roux Baard, 17 Kyle Kruger, 18 Chergin Fillies, 19 Jo-Hanco de Villiers, 20 Siyabonga Luwaca, 21 Devon Mare, 22 Dominic Kroezen, 23 Kevin du Randt.
UP-Tuks: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Dewald Naude, 13 Adrian Maebane, 12 Impi Visser, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Marthinus de Beer, 9 Theodorus Maree, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Christiaan Massyn, 6 Eduan Lubbe, 5 Brian Leitch, 4 Aston Fortuin, 3 Johan Fouche, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Theunis Reynolds, 17 Jacobus Holtzhausen, 18 Marius Verwey, 19 Juan Swanepoel, 20 Raegan Oranje, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Immanuel Libbok, 23 Franco van den Berg.
Referee: Jaco Kotze
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Johan Greeff
Varsity Shield fixtures
UKZN-Impi v UFH-Blues
(Durban, Kick-off: 18.30, 16.30 GMT)
TUT-Vikings v WSU
(Pretoria, Kick-off: 18.30, 16.30 GMT)
UWC v Rhodes
(Cape Town, Kick-off: 18.30, 16.30 GMT)
By Tauriq Ebrahim