Varsity Cup: The play-off fight

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:58
Large craig barry maties clapping 800

THE CONTENDERS: Three teams have already booked their spots in the semi-finals but the location of those play-off matches will only be determined at the conclusion of the final round. Tauriq Ebrahim reports.

UP-Tuks' bonus-point victory over UCT-Ikeys in Round Eight saw them head into the final round on top of the standings, with the best possible chance of ending the competition at the top of the standings.

It is not going to be easy though as they host NWU-Pukke, who require a bonus point victory to sneak into the semi-finals and keep their hopes alive of defending their title.

Second-placed Maties could leap into top spot with a victory over third-placed UJ, should Tuks fail to beat Pukke.

Tuks, Maties and UJ have already guaranteed their places in the play-offs. The remaining semi-final spot will be taken by either Shimlas, who have completed their round robin matches, and Pukke - who will need to beat Tuks with a bonus point.

Wits and UCT go head-to-head for sixth place, although Wits could finish fifth if they claim a victory and Pukke loses.

The Madibaz and CUT will play each other to avoid the basement position.

Here's where the teams can possibly finish!

UP-Tuks (currently first)

Best position: First
Worst position: Third

Tuks are first up in the final round and will know that a victory guarantees them a home semi-final but it wouldn't necessarily secure top spot on the table. A bonus point victory will almost certainly ensure top spot.

There is a possibility that Tuks could fall to third place overall if they fail to secure any points. For this to happen, UJ will need to beat Maties with a bonus point while the Stellenbosch side needs at least two points from the game.

Maties (currently second)

Best position: First
Worst position: Third

They have the luxury of playing the final game of the round and will know exactly what they will need to do in order to secure either top spot on the log or a home semi-final.

Should Tuks beat Pukke without a bonus point, a bonus point victory for Maties will see them top the table. However, should Tuks beat Pukke with a bonus point, Maties will need to put plenty of points past UJ to overtake Tuks.

As it stands, the points difference between Tuks and Maties sits at 55.

UJ (currently third)

Best position: First
Worst position: Third

UJ has a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless of ending the round robin phase on top of the standings. For this to happen, Tuks will have to end their match without any points while they beat Maties with a bonus point.

A bonus point victory over Maties secures a home semi-final but victory without a bonus-point leaves it up to points difference, which currently stands at 82.

Shimlas (currently fourth)

Best position: fourth
Worst position: fifth

The outcome of the final round is out of Shimlas' hands as they have concluded their round robin matches. They gave themselves the best possible chance of remaining in fourth place by beating the NMMU-Madibaz in the penultimate round.

Shimlas will need Pukke to not claim a bonus point victory over Tuks in their match. Should Pukke accomplish this feat, Shimlas will be knocked out.

NWU-Pukke (currently fifth)

Best position: fourth
Worst position: sixth

The equation is simple for the defending champions - beat Tuks with a bonus point and claim the final semi-final spot.

Failure to do so will see them fall agonisingly short.

Wits (currently sixth)

Best position: fifth
Worst position: seventh

Wits made a valiant effort to keep themselves in contention for a semi-final spot but a loss to UJ in the previous round killed those hopes. Nevertheless, they will finish in their highest ever position in the Cup competition, regardless of the outcome of their match with UCT-Ikeys.

Victory over Ikeys, combined with Pukke losing, would ensure fifth spot - while a defeat by a bonus point could see them slip into seventh place overall - should Ikeys put plenty of points past them.

UCT-Ikeys (currently seventh)

Best position: Sixth
Worst position: eighth

UCT have already had a much better season than last year when they failed to bag a single victory. There is a possibility of them finishing sixth but that would require them to beat Wits by a bonus point and plenty of points as the points difference now stands at 77.

Failure to pick up a victory of any kind, could see them drop to eighth place, should the Madibaz beat CUT.

NMMU-Madibaz (currently eighth)

Best position: Seventh
Worst position: ninth

The Madibaz will need UCT to slip up against Wits and they would need to beat CUT in order to climb into seventh place. Failure to beat CUT would see them slip into last place on the log.

CUT-Ixias (currently ninth)

Best position: Eighth
Worst position: Ninth

CUT's first and only victory will see them climb into eighth place above the Madibaz - their opponents in the final round. Failure to do so will see them end the competition in the basement and claim the wooden spoon for the season.

By Tauriq Ebrahim
@Tauriq365
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 July 2017
Crusaders v Chiefs 07h35 Christchurch
Golden Lions v Griquas 10h00 Johannesburg
Lions v Hurricanes 12h30 Ellis Park
Sharks v Pumas 15h00 Durban
Sun, 30 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province 12h30 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 July 2017
Pumas v Golden Lions 43 | 36
Sat, 22 July 2017
Griquas v Blue Bulls 45 | 51
Stormers v Chiefs 11 | 17
Lions v Sharks 23 | 21
Crusaders v Highlanders 17 | 0
Fri, 21 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 47 | 12
Brumbies v Hurricanes 16 | 35
Sat, 15 July 2017
Sharks v Lions 10 | 27
Bulls v Stormers 33 | 41
Force v Waratahs 40 | 11
Hurricanes v Crusaders 31 | 22
Chiefs v Brumbies 28 | 10
Sunwolves v Blues 43 | 21
Fri, 14 July 2017
Kings v Cheetahs 20 | 21
Rebels v Jaguares 29 | 32
VARSITY CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool CUP
Team P W D L Pts
UP-Tuks 8 7 0 1 34
Maties 8 7 0 1 34
UJ 8 5 0 3 25
Shimlas 8 5 0 3 23
Wits 8 4 0 4 21
NWU-Pukke 8 4 0 4 19
NMMU-Madibaz 8 2 0 6 11
UCT-Ikeys 8 2 0 6 9
CUT-Ixias 8 0 0 8 3
Pool SHIELD
Team P W D L Pts
UWC 6 5 0 1 27
Fort Hare 6 4 0 2 20
UKZN-Impi 6 4 0 2 20
WSU 6 3 0 3 14
CPUT 6 2 0 4 10
TUT 6 2 0 4 9
Rhodes 6 1 0 5 6