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Rugby | Varsity Cup

UP-Tuks © Gallo Images

UP-Tuks look to escape relegation zone

FNB UP-Tuks will be chasing their first win of the season of the 2018 FNB Varsity Cup when they host FNB NWU in Pretoria on Monday.

It will be a massive test for last year's winners who are finally back at home after three games in a row on the trot and will want to make their home advantage count.

The men from Pretoria will be desperate for a win and to earn some respect in the competition after a series of close losses.

NWU on the other hand will be feeling confident going into the game after three successive victories. Jonathan Mokuena's men have put up some big scores in as well, beating CUT 70-7 and NMU 37-5.

NWU won't take the game lightly considering that they could leapfrog UCT and even Wits if the permutations go their way, which means they could go to second place.

UP-Tuks could leapfrog their way out of the relegation zone if they do beat NWU. They currently sit on two points at the bottom of the log but with a win could jump CUT and NMU, assuming they both lose their games.

NWU coach Mokuena explained that his side need to get the basics right for the fixture.

"For us it's all about our processes, we try not focus too much on the other team because then we lose focus.

"For me as a coach and my management team this week specifically, we have been driving our small processes, making sure we have a good line out, a good scrum and good line speed. We must ensure that those are things are at our standard, then we should be in for a good game."

The former Blitzbok star empathises for UP-Tuks but stressed that it is a competition.

"Not taking anything away from UP-Tuks, they are struggling at the moment but somewhere along the line they are going to find their feet again. They're a good team, every team goes through a difficult passage.

"Last year was the same for us. Last year we didn't make the Semi's (after winning the previous season), but this is the nature of the beast and it's a competition. Once again Varsity Cup is proving to be one of the best competitions.

"We are looking forward to the challenge but we know it's not going to be easy."


The Western Cape clash between the mighty FNB Maties and Varsity Cup dark horses FNB UCT Ikeys should go down to the wire at the Danie Craven Stadium considering these two teams' current form.

Maties have had the competition by a stranglehold in 2018 with the men in maroon unbeaten, with four wins and 1 draw, putting some of their rivals to the sword in the process.

The Stellenbosch-based team will be ripe for a backlash though, when they host the Tigers after losing their lead against Wits last week.

The Braamfontein boys snatched a seven-point try in the dying minutes of the game to claim a draw.

If Maties win the game, they will compound their log dominance and give themselves some breathing space from Wits and FNB NWU.

If Hawies Fourie's men are defeated and Wits claim a likely bonus-point victory over CUT, Maties could lose their position at the top of the log.

UCT have been the surprise package this season. After a disappointing run last year, the pundits predicted relegation for UCT.

But the Tigers have shown their mettle and now sit third on the table with three wins from five games, gaining their form from a powerful set of forwards.

Stellenbosch's Danie Craven Stadium should pack out with over 15 000 fans on the day.


FNB UJ will be keen to gain as many as log points as possible when they host FNB Madibaz in Johannesburg.

UJ didn't have the ideal start to the tournament after a heavy loss to Maties but they have since come back into the frame as competitors after big wins over CUT and most recently Shimlas, winning 49-12 and scoring five tries in the process.

The Orange Army have their sights set firmly on a semifinal placing with the top six teams all within seven points of each other, making it an achievable goal.

Madibaz have had a disaster season by their own standards. The men from Port Elizabeth have yet to win a game despite pushing their opposition close in most of their fixtures.

They even handed CUT their second ever win, earlier in the season after losing 38-37 in a try fest where 10 tries were scored.

When asked whether UJ were aiming for a semifinal place, captain Jannes Snyman made it clear that he was focusing on the task at hand.

"The most important thing is preparing and focusing on the next match against Madibaz, who we play on Monday."

Snyman also urged the UJ fans to come out in full support to spur the side to victory.

"It’s imperative for our fans to remain behind the team and not lose hope that the UJ team can pull of an upset on any given day."


FNB CUT will look to rain on FNB Wits's parade when they host the high-flying Joburgers in Bloemfontein.

Wits have had their critics eating crow since their first fixture of the season as the university, not traditionally known for its rugby prowess, have been steam rolling their opposition and shattering glass ceilings.

Wits have lost just once this tournament, to Shimlas, but otherwise have toppled the likes of UCT, UP-Tuks and most impressively drew to Maties, breaking the Stellenbosch side's winning streak.

Their forwards have provided them with a solid base, but their backline has been lethal with flyhalf Christian Humphries, fullback Tyron Green and winger Daniel Kasende bewildering their opponents.

CUT have had a less than glamourous season thus far, with one victory from four defeats and conceding a collective point difference of -152 points.

The Bloemfontein side are currently seventh on the table with five points and will want to shock the Jozi boys to escape the bottom of the table.

Wits boss Hugo van As stressed that his side needs to stay grounded as they approach the business end of the competition.

"We are ecstatic to be where we are as a group and after Round Five we are lying in a good position. I think the big challenge is to understand that although we are doing well we haven't achieved anything and to keep the players grounded is a total commitment.

"Everyone in the group, especially the management, is taking responsibility for their own department, with senior players having a huge role. The players understand we are currently just taking it one game at a game to achieve our goals and we aren't going to think further than Monday when we play CUT."

Van As believes CUT would have prepared will for the fixture and won't be a push over.

"With these kind of results, other teams take notice, prepare better and try beat you on the day. It's added responsibility and added pressure on us a group and we understand we have to stay humble.

"If we keep working hard and keep believing in our dream, I'm sure the end result will look after itself."


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