Maties could be virtually assured of a place in the Varsity Cup playoffs when they host NWU in Stellenbosch on Monday, while UJ face Wits, Shimlas take on a resurgent UCT and Tuks make the trip down to UWC. DYLAN JACK reports.
In a repeat of last year’s final, Maties, who sit top of the table with 19 points from their opening four matches, will know that a bonus-point win against their title rivals from the north could be enough for them to be virtually assured of a place in the final four.
It is unlikely that the defending champions will lose either of their remaining home games against the two current bottom teams, UJ and UWC. With only a tough trip to Bloemfontein to play Shimlas and a bye in between, the Maroon Machine can take a massive step towards the defence of their title, should they win on Monday evening.
However, a win against the Potchefstroom team is not guaranteed. Jonathan Mokuena’s men have been in solid form this year, claiming three wins out of three, with two bonus points.
NWU will also be out to show that they have learned from the 2018 final, where they were outplayed as Maties strode to a comfortable 40-7 win.
Maties have kept their starting lineup relatively unchanged, bringing back star flyhalf Jordan Chait, while Anton du Toit, brother of Stormers forward Pieter-Steph, keeps his place at fullback after scoring four tries against CUT.
While the prospect of beating the title favourites should be motivation enough, NWU can give their own aspirations a boost should they come away from the Danie Craven stadium with points.
Earlier in the day, Varsity Cup strugglers UJ face another tough fixture as they host Johannesburg rivals Wits in the opening fixture of the round.
It has not been an ideal start to the season for Dewey Swartbooi, who replaced Werner Janse van Rensburg as UJ head coach this year, with his side losing all four of their matches so far, and only two bonus-points to show for their efforts.
Even more worrying, is that Wits will not be lacking in motivation. Having lost their last two games, Hugo van As’ team are looking to keep up with the race for the playoffs, and will know that this fixture presents them with a golden opportunity to bank five points and climb the log.
In the two non-televised games, Shimlas and the UCT Ikeys will be involved in a massive clash for the playoffs, with UCT looking to take the Bloemfontein side’s place in the top four. Meanwhile, UWC, still searching for their first win of the season, welcome a resurgent Tuks team to Cape Town.
UJ vs Wits
UJ Stadium, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 4:45pm (SuperSport 1)
UJ – 15 Odwa Nkunjana, 14 Tatendaishe Mujawo, 13 Tyreeq February, 12 Cyprian Nkomo, 11 Shaun Williams, 10 Mashudu Raphunga, 9 Jack Hart, 8 Dian Schoonees, 7 Adriaan Bester (c), 6 Edwin Jansen, 5 Tyler Brown, 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Pierre Rabie, 2 Willem du Plessis, 1 Kayden Kiewiet.
Subs: 16 Hloni Mphuthi, 17 Junior Banda, 18 Ethan Jeffery, 19 Henro Liebenberg, 20 Siyabonga Masuku, 21 Khanya Ncusane, 22 Johan Esterhuizen, 23 Wynand Botha.
Wits – 15 Jared Fuller; 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Yanga Hlalu, 12 Adriaan van Blerk, 11 Neil Nyembe; 10 Chris Humphries, 9 Runaldo Pedro; 8 Philip Krause, 7 Sipho Siboza, 6 Constant Beckerling (c), 5 Pascal Snyman, 4 Kevin du Randt, 3 Reynard Cronjé, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 Bheki Shongwe.
Subs: 16 Justin Brandon, 17 Luyolo Qinela, 18 Ebot Buma, 19 Conor Brockschmidt, 20 Cal Smid, 21 Sicelo Champion, 22 Mark Snyman, 23 Moemisi Mosheledi.
Shimlas vs UCT
Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 6:30pm (Not televised)
Shimlas – 15 Ruan Henning, 14 Cham Zondeki 13 Christiaan Schutte, 12 William Eybers, 11 Marnus Boshoff, 10 Justin Taylor, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Allan Losaba, 7 Menzi Nhlabathi, 6 Janco Cloete, 5 Henk Pretorius (c), 4 Sibabalo Qoma, 3 Mogau Mabokela, 2 Wihan Marais, 1 John Fincham.
Subs: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Bhekinkosi Qaba, 18 Ruan Kramer, 19 Sihle Diniso, 20Bertie du Bod, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Charl Pretorius, 23 Sechaba Matsoele.
UCT – 15 Darian Hock, 14 Rayno Mapoe, 13 Sibabalwe Mzanywa, 12 Robert Ball, 11 Lindelwe Zungu, 10 Lohan Lubbe, 9 Armand Pretorius, 8 Nyasha Tarusenga, 7 Josh Moon (c), 6 Cornelius Otto, 5 Dave Meihuizen, 4 Gary Porter, 3 Simon Raw, 2 Brenton Greaves, 1 Malcolm Arendse.
Subs: 16 Cuan Hablutzel, 17 Qhawe Bula, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Duncan Saffy, 20 Tawanda Mutuma, 21 Brandon Salomo 22 Michael Brink, 23 James Tedder.
UWC vs Tuks
UWC Sports Grounds, Cape Town
Kick-off: 6:30pm (Not televised)
UWC – 15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Juanré de Klerk, 13 Lubelo Scott, 12 Lyle Hendricks, 11 Andre Manuel, 10 Keagan Fortune, 9 Clayton Daniels, 8 Adrian Paarwater, 7 Reece Bocks, 6 Joel Paarwater, 5 Curtly Thomas, 4 Matthew le Roux, 3 Justin Theys, 2 Jacques van Zyl, 1 Luvo Bazi.
Subs: 16 Luan du Randt, 17 Alexander Mbete, 18 Jaen-Louis de Lange, 19 Bronlee Mouries, 20 Megamat Kannemeyer, 21 Hendrik Carstens, 22 Sthsaba Mqhatu, 23 Hendrik Calitz.
Tuks – 15 Jean-Claude Bonaparte, 14 Irvin Ali, 13 Lourens Pretorius, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Ciaran Dayaran, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Theo Maree, 8 Denzel Hill, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Stephan Smit, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Marius Verwey (c), 3 Jean-Pierre Smith, 2 Johan Grobelaar, 1 Etienne Janeke.
Subs: 16 Werner Fourie, 17 Jacobus Eloff, 18 Bart le Roux, 19 Brian Leitch, 20 Raegan Oranje, 21 Christo Hamman, 22 Xolisa Guma, 23 Mihlali Stamper.
Maties vs NWU
Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
Kick-off: 7pm (SuperSport 1)
Maties – 15 Anton du Toit, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Cornel Smit, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Chait, 9 Logan Boonzaaier 8 Joa Swart, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Johann van Niekerk, 5 Zirk Jansen, 4 Ernst van Rhyn (c), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 HJ Luus , 1 Wayrin Losper.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ricky Nwagbara, 18 Piet Strauss, 19 Jesse Johnson, 20 Mitchell Carstens, 21 Brendon Nell, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 David Brits.
NWU – 15 Shane van Rooyen, 14 Lincoln Daniels, 13 Evardi Boshof, 12 AK Nela, 11 Lungelo Gosa, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Eugene Hare, 8 Wian Conradie, 7 Muziwandile Mazibuko, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Jan du Plooy, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen (c), 1 Tshegofatso Moloto.
Subs: 16 Marius Stander, 17 Nelius Theron, 18 Matimu Manganyi, 19 Reuben du Plooy, 20 Lucky Mkhize, 21 Sylvester SHassien, 22 BF van Staden, 23 AP van Niekerk.
Photo: Barco Greeff/Varsity Cup