Varsity Cup play-off battle heats up
Varsity Cup play-off battle heats upSHARE
The battle for semifinal spots in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International heats up on Monday with some key matches in the penultimate round of the regular season.
With six teams still in the running for a spot in the knock-out phase of the competition, the next two weeks will see an almighty scrap for a place in the top four.
Log-leaders FNB Maties can secure top spot – and home advantage in the play-offs – if they manage to continue their unbeaten streak when they take on the winless FNB Wits in Johannesburg, but it will be the two televised games that should have everyone on the edge of their seats.
In the first match to be televised live on Supersport One at 4.45pm, fifth-placed NWU-Pukke will face fourth-placed FNB NMMU in what is sure to be an intense clash in Potchefstroom as both sides look to put some pressure on the top three teams.
The Madibaz are riding high on confidence after their big victory over FNB UJ last week, but they are still searching for their first away win of the season, and will meet some stubborn resistance in the form of a NWU-Pukke side looking to bounce back from their loss to UFS-Shimlas in Bloemfontein.
The trans-Jukskei derby between UJ and defending champions FNB UP-Tuks in Johannesburg should be just as hard-fought with the two teams separated only by points-difference and with their sights set firmly on a home semifinal.
UP-Tuks got their campaign back on track last week with a resounding win against Wits, but they face a much sterner test in the form of a fired-up UJ outfit who will be hurting after their second defeat of the season last week.
In Bloemfontein, UFS-Shimlas will be out to keep their play-off hopes alive with a full-house of log points against FNB UCT who will be desperate to notch their first victory of what has been a frustrating season.
The Free State side showed what they are capable of in their convincing victory over NWU-Pukke last week, and they will want more of the same as they look for a late surge up the standings.
In the Varsity Shield front-runners FNB CUT will be out to continue their unbeaten streak this season when they face second-placed FNB UKZN in a table-topping clash in Bloemfontein.
The UKZN Impi will be desperate to cause an upset which will vastly improve their prospects of qualifying for their first-ever final.
In Pretoria FNB Fort Hare will want to put some pressure on the Impi by securing an away victory over the TUT Vikings which will see them move past FNB UWC who have a bye.
In the Varsity Young Guns competition defending champions UP-Tuks travel to Potchefstroom to take on NWU-Pukke in the early game. In Johannesburg UCT face UJ as both team try to put some pressure on the pool-topping Maties, whilst newcomers Wits will want to bounce back from two heavy defeats when they host UFS-Shimlas.
In the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship, Steinhoff Cobras will want to build on their encouraging performance against Bastion last week when they travel to Bloemfontein to face the defending champions Vishuis, and in Potchefstroom Steinhoff Villagers will be up against UP-Tuks outfit Mopanie who are in search of their first victory.
FNB Varsity Cup fixtures and team line-ups – Monday, March 11
FNB NWU-Pukke v FNB NMMU, Fanie du Toit Sports Ground – 4.45pm (Live on Supersport One)
NWU-Pukke: 15 Hoffman Maritz, 14 SW Oosthuizen, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Justin Botha, 9 Tiaan Dorfling, 8 SJ Niemand, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Molotsi Bouwer, 5 Victor Kruger (captain), 4 Danie Jordaan, 3 Martin Dreyer, 2 JC Oberholzer, 1 Arno Ebersohn.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Mashudu Mafela, 18 Solly Sotsaka, 19 Robey Labuschagne, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 Rowayne Beukman, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Herman Basson.
NMMU: 15 Jarred Buys, 14 Logan Basson, 13 Hermanus van Lill, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Gerhardus Smith, 10 Justin Van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Mzwanale Zito, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Ferdinand Gerber, 19 Ulrich Pretorius, 20 Simphiwe Shabangu, 21 Devon Lailvaux, 22 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 23 Dexter Fahey.
Referee: Quinton Immelman
FNB UJ v FNB UP-Tuks, UJ Stadium – 7pm (Live on Supersport One)
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 Piet Lindeque, 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 Mike Williams, 3 Basil Short, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Christoph Gouws, 18 Schalk Van Heerden, 19 Wesley Kotze, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Christopher Bosch, 22 Riaan Britz, 23 Sabelo Nhlapo.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
FNB Shimlas v FNB UCT, Xerox Shimla Park – 7pm
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 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 JC van Wyk, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Lebo Zietsman, 19 Freddie Ngoza, 20 Hlanlha Hlongwane, 21 Sethu Tom, 22 Francois du Toit, 23 Luan de Bruin.
UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Liam Bax, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Joshua Katzen, 7 Jason Klaasen, 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 Bradley Bosman, 20 Rick Schroeder, 21 Paul Cohen, 22 Justin Coles, 23 Digby Webb.
Referee: Lusanda Jam
FNB Wits v FNB Maties, Wits Rugby Stadium – 7pm
Wits: 15 Michael Sephton-Poultney, 14 Jacques Erasmus, 13 Kayde Fisher, 12 Mandla Dube, 11 Riaan Arends, 10 Kyle Peyper, 9 Mathew Torrance, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Rinus Bothma, 6 Carel Greef, 5 Charles Baggot, 4 Devin Montgomery (captain), 3 Phakamilu Zuma, 2 Katlego Kgame, 1 Ferdinand Kelly.
Replacements: 16 Rory Anderson, 17 Thato Mavundla, 18 Peter van Biljon, 19 Shai Korb, 20 Joshua Durbach, 21 Greg Blom, 22 Nkuli Gamede, 23 Hannes Ludik.
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Andries Truter, 8 Reniel Hugo, 7 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 6 Beyers de Villers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Brianton Boysen, 17 Hein van der Merwe, 18 Jurg Streicher, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 James Alexander, 21 JH Potgieter, 22 Dean Hammond, 23 Brendan Pitzer.
Referee: Lesego Legoete
FNB Varsity Shield fixtures – Monday, March 11
FNB TUT v FNB UFH, TUT Stadium – 7pm
FNB CUT v FNB UKZN, CUT Rugby Stadium – 7pm
Steinhoff Koshuisrugby championship fixtures – Monday, March 11
Steinhoff Villagers v Steinhoff Mopanie, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 3pm
Steinhoff Vishuis v Steinhoff Cobras, Xerox Shimla Park – 4.45pm
FNB Varsity Young Guns fixtures – Monday, March 11
FNB NWU-Pukke v FNB UP-Tuks, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 3pm
FNB UJ v FNB UCT, UJ Stadium – 4.45pm
FNB Wits v FNB Shimlas, Wits Rugby Stadium – 4.45pm