Preview: Varsity Cup, Round Four
THE BURNING QUESTION: Can anybody end the unbeaten run of the University of Stellenbosch?
In Round Four of the Varsity Cup Maties will look to retain their perfect record, when they host CUT.
In the other matches this week the chasing pack - with Nelson Mandela Metropole University hosting the in-form Wits, while the University of Cape Town host Free State University and the University of Johannesburg travel to Potchefstroom to take on North West University - will be aiming to stay in touch with the leaders.
We look at all the Round Four matches!
Monday, February 19
Madibaz versus Wits
(Madibaz Stadium- Kick-off: 16.45; 14.45 GMT)
Madibaz will be looking to ambush Wits and collect their first win of the tournament when they clash with the Johannesburg-based team.
Madibaz has had a disappointing start to the season with two straight losses. They had their bye in the first round of the competition before losing to UCT 17-27 and then gave CUT their first win of the competition and their second win ever after losing 38-37 in Bloemfontein.
NMMU were unlucky not to win their most recent game after both sides scored five tries in the thriller.
Madibaz coach David Maidza believes they need to play in the right areas of the field when they host Wits.
"Defensively we haven't been so bad in the past two games," Maidza said.
"We must carry on with our defensive structures. I don't think there are many counter attacks we have been susceptible to.
"It's mainly playing rugby in the wrong areas and conceding penalties. We've conceded most of our tries when the opposition goes for a penalty, kicks for the corner and score off the maul."
"From our side, we need to play sensible rugby and we need to play the basics both on attack and defence and just do the basic fundamentals."
The former Zimbabwean international player explained admitted his foes' strengths but believed that can thwart the Wits attack.
"Wits are a good side and not just on the counter-attack. They control the ball quite well.
"As Wits counter attack as good as it is, we should be ready to counter that with the training we've done this week."
The Johannesburg-based side, Wits, took their first loss of the season when they were defeated by Shimlas 44-24 in Bloemfontein.
Unlike their previous games Wits struggled to control the game but still managed to score four tries with Kasende Kapepula managing to grab a brace in the contest.
Wits coach Hugo van As explained that even though losing is never ideal, the team is still positive about their next game and the season.
"The loss against Shimlas was disappointing," Van As said.
"But the team understands we are part of this process and it's our first loss of 2018. But we don't need motivation, the team is self-driven and understand that it's a long campaign and that we need to pick ourselves up and execute better and perform better on the day."
The coach went onto say that Madibaz should be a tough game but Wits are excited to take them on in Port Elizabeth.
"Madibaz is a quality outfit and I know that's not how they wanted to start their season [with two losses against UCT and CUT respectively]. But they will be a big threat to us in Port Elizabeth on Monday night. I'm sure it will be a close contest with Madibaz.
"To be honest we enjoy travelling as a team, we're looking forward to playing in Port Elizabeth on Monday. We knew what our fixtures were going to be, and we planned accordingly before the season."
Madibaz: 15 Michael Botha, 14 Athenkosi Mayinje, 13 Siphumelele Msutwana, 12 Riaan Esterhuizen (captain), 11 Lindelwe Zungu, 10 Simon Bolze, 9 Lovu Claassen, 8 Justin Hollis, 7 Wynand Grassman, 6 Henry Brown, 5 Gerrit Huisamen, 4 Luyolo Dapula, 3 Dylan Barendse, 2 Jedwyn Harty, 1 Nicolas Roebeck.
Replacements: 16 JP Jamieson, 17 Tembelihle Yase, 18 Similile Qinela, 19 Robert Izaks, 20 Jayson Reinecke, 21 Sibusiso Ngcokovane, 22 Henrique Olivier, 23 Jordan Koekemoer.
Wits: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Kwanele Ngema, 13 Yanga Hlalu, 12 Adriaan van Blerk, 11 Daniel Kapepula, 10 Christian Humphries, 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Ayabulela Mdudi, 7 Jethro de Lange, 6 Constant Beckerling (captain), 5 Pascal Snyman, 4 Conor-Terrah Brockschmidt 3 CJ Greeff, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 Ameer Williams
Replacements: 16 Justin Brandon, 17 Craig Hume, 18 Sipho Siboza, 19 Lwazi Monakali, 20 Jared Fuller, 21 Manqoba Mbatha, 22 David Cary, 23 Luyolo Qinela
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
TMO: Christie du Preez
UCT Ikeys versus Shimlas
(UCT Rugby Fields - Kick-off: 18.30; 16.30 GMT)
UCT will be out to claim their third win in a row. The Cape Town university has exceeded expectation this season.
After their first loss against Wits, not many gave the Tigers much of a chance. However, after an away win against Madibaz and a head-turning victory over NWU, a victory over Shimlas might fashion UCT into potential title contenders.
UCT has a speedy backline who utilise the ball well, but the success of UCT has come from a powerful forward pack led by captain Joshua Moon and supported by barnstorming-runner Nyasha Tarusenga. Their scrum decimated Madibaz in Round Two and they have been solid in the crash-ball area.
Moon praised his side's character after their win against NWU.
"It was a very important win for us on Monday against NWU who are a very strong side," the captain said.
"I cannot praise the character of the boys enough, it was spectacular to be a part of."
The UCT captain realises what challenges they still have to overcome and is braced for a tough contest against Shimlas.
"The team is in a very good headspace. However, it is very important for us to realise that there is a long way to go in this competition and humility and focus need to be displayed in this week of preparation. Another hurdle awaits us on Monday so what's done is done now and onto the next one.
"Obviously we plan on getting another win. We are sticking to our structures, our game plan, focusing on us as a unit and controlling the controllable. It will be another fiercely fought contest come Monday so we will approach it one step at a time and leave it all on the field and the result, whatever it may be, will follow."
Shimlas can crack the top three if they manage to topple UCT.
The Bloemfontein-based university has had a mixed-bag of a season so far. After starting the competition off with a 19-17 win over Varsity Cup champions UP-Tuks in Pretoria, Maties put them to sword beating them 56-21. Their most recent game was a 44-24 victory against the in-form Wits in Bloemfontein.
Currently, UCT and Shimlas both sit on nine points and if the latter wins the game they will leapfrog UCT for the third place and will be hot on the heels of log leaders Maties and Wits.
UCT-Ikeys: 15 Khanyo Ngcukana, 14 Karl Martin, 13 Liam Furniss, 12 Charles Ball, 11 Joel Smith, 10 Darian Hock, 9 Pieter Schoonraad, 8 Nyasha Tarusenga, 7 Josh Moon (captain), 6 Kuyenzeka Xaba, 5 Duncan Saffy, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Simon Raw, 2 Cuan Hablutzel, 1 Wayrin Losper.
Replacements: 16 Josh Van Vuuren, 17 Ashwyn Adams, 18 Ntokozo Khomo, 19 Gary Porter, 20 Kwezi Puza, 21 Stefano de Gouveia, 22 Lohan Lubbe, 23 Suwilanji Chibale.
Shimlas: 15 Sechaba Matsoele, 14 Athi Halom, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Sango Xamlashe, 11 Gideon Agenbag, 10 Nicholas Naude, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Albertus de Bod, 7 Menzi Nhlabathi, 6 Jan Cloete, 5 Henk Pretorius, 4 Sibabalo Qoma, 3 Mogau Mabokela, 2 Hanno Snyman, 1 Gert Kotze (captain).
Replacements: 16 JC Jansen van Vuuren, 17 Louis Cloete, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Raymond Woest, 20 Benjamin Jansen van Vuuren, 21 Zinedene Booysen, 22 Ayabonga Oliphant, 23 Tiaan Schutte.
Referee: Meiring Ruhan
Maties versus CUT
(Danie Craven Stadium - Kick-off: 18.30; 16.30 GMT)
Maties will look to continue their dominance, having won all three their games.
Their stranglehold on the competition looked at risk last week though, when UP-Tuks pushed them close. However, Maties came up on top winning 24-16.
Before their scare, Maties claimed a comfortable 31-3 victory over UJ in their first round and then a resounding 56-21 in their second match against Shimlas.
It would be tough to catch the Stellenbosch side on the log. They currently have 14 points after three games, with only Wits just behind them with 10 points.
CUT will look to guts it out on Monday.
The men from Bloemfontein will be looking for their second win of the season - their only victory against Madibaz, beating the Port Elizabeth-based team 38-37.
CUT coach Tiaan Liebenberg believes that Maties have very few chinks in their armour but that CUT heart can see them through.
"I think Maties have an unbelievable counter-attack and a very strong set piece. We were looking at their scrum and they have 40 kilograms on us. But rugby is a funny game, it's not about size, it's about heart. We'll plan and see where we can counter them, but at the end of the day, it's about guts and heart. There's not a lot of weakness in that side."
When asked if CUT will try to close down certain Maties players, Liebenberg rejected the idea.
"The moment you start targeting certain players you miss the big picture. It's such a good Maties side, I wouldn't know who to target. We should target all 15 of them (laughs)."
"The challenge is that Maties are big boys, they've got size and pace out wide."
Maties: 15 Reinardt Fortuin, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Cornel Smit, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Johan Momsen, 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Johan Fouche, 2 Arnoldi Wilmar, 1 Chippie Oelofse (captain).
Replacements: 16 Hendrik Luus, 17 Ricky Nwagbara, 18 Piet Strauss, 19 Chris Massyn, 20 Stephan Streicher, 21 Logan Boonzaaier, 22 Elden Schoeman, 23 Munier Hartzenberg.
CUT: 15 Dimitrio Tieties, 14 Masego Toolo, 13 Ruan Wasserman, 12 Heinrich Bitzi, 11 Dean Jacobs, 10 Denver Kleu, 9 Ruben Heymans (captain), 8 Gerhardus Nel, 7 Ruan Smit, 6 Dean Rossouw, 5 Brendon Fortuin, 4 Arne van Rensburg, 3 Stefan van Schalkwyk, 2 Tiaan Erasmus, 1 Quintin Vorster.
Replacements: 16 Johannes Terblanche, 17 Raynard Esterhuizen, 18 LW Viljoen, 19 Lihan Viljoen, 20 Isiah Bila, 21 Tiisetso Madonsela, 22 Mazithulele Nkosi, 23 Karabo Maqeba.
Referee: Archie Sehlako
NWU versus UJ
(Fanie du Toit Sportsground - Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
NWU will look to get their season back and remind the rest of the competition of their attacking potency when they host UJ in Potchefstroom.
The men in purple destroyed CUT 70-7 in Round One scoring eight tries in the process. NWU then had a bye in Round Two, before being shocked by UCT, going down 15-18 to the Capetonians in a tight affair.
NWU coach Jonathan Mokuena believes motivation was an issue last week, but that it won't be an issue when his side is back at home in Potchefstroom.
"There was so much hype around the first game and it was at home, so, the motivation was a little bit higher," Mokuena said.
"The UCT game was little more difficult, in getting the guys motivated. We tried something a little different this year by having a team building in the week off to get the guys fresh and motivated for UCT, but, unfortunately, it didn't work out for us.
"I think it will be different being at home with everyone's' parents, and uncles and aunties cheering them on, from the crowd. I think as the coaching staff the biggest thing is focussing on the detail."
Mokuena believes that UJ will be confident, considering their history.
"UJ beat us the last time we played them at Fanie du Toit Stadium. They will come here confident and believing they can beat us. I believe my team is on the right track though and it should be a good 80 minutes."
NWU is wary of what UJ's strategy might be ahead of the game.
"UJ has brilliant individuals and a good pack of forwards. They have brought in coach Bafana Nhleko, who was part of the Lions set-up and I'm sure he'll analyse our team well and have a few tricks up his sleeve for us. We're looking forward to the challenge and should be a massive game for both teams."
UJ is indeed raring to go, after their bye.
The Johannesburg-based team has had a mixed bag of results. They took a heavy loss in their first game of the season - going down 3-31 to Maties. They then smacked CUT 48-21 to get back in the race.
"A bye always presents an interesting challenge," coach Werner Janse van Rensburg said.
"It usually extends the period until the next game which makes the guys more expectant to play. In our case, it was a good time for us to reassess where we are. It's been a long wait, so the guys are raring to go now."
Janse van Rensburg believes past results mean nothing, but admits NWU will pose a big challenge.
"NWU's performance in Round One was exceptional and they're always good at home. But there's nothing out of the Varsity Cup history book that says if a team does well in the previous game it means they will be good on the day.
"They present an all-round challenge. NWU has a good pack marked with good pace at the back with some experience in key positions. They are always good at home and only our best will be good enough on the evening to get a result."
NWU: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Dean Gordon, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Akhona Nela, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Tiaan Bezuidenhout (captain), 7 Estehan Visagie, 6 Wandile Mazibuko, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Nelius Theron.
Replacements: 16 Marius Stander, 17 Matimu Manqanyi, 18 Theodore Ferreira, 19 Jaco Swanepoel, 20 Senzo Mkhize, 21 Nkosana Mathaba, 22 Henko Marais, 23 Jimmy Mpailane.
UJ: 15 Ronald Brown, 14 Tyreeq February, 13 Jan-Louis la Grange, 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Tatendaishe Mujawo, 10 Jeanluc Cilliers, 9 Bradley Thain, 8 Wian Conradie, 7 Adriaan Bester, 6 James Venter, 5 Kevin de Randt, 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Jannes Snyman (captain), 1 Sibusiso Lali.
Replacements: 16 Hendrik van Schoor, 17 Dillon Bakos, 18 Estian Enslin, 19 Siyabonga Luwaca, 20 Darryle Kameel, 21 Austic-Marc Davids, 22 Louis van der Schyff, 23 Cohen Kiewit.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Lesego Legoete
* All teams are subject to change before kick-off.