Seven teams – including Shimlas, Ikeys, Tuks, Maties and Wits – are set to battle it out over the last two rounds of the Varsity Cup for a place in this season’s semi-finals.
Log position: 1st
Remaining fixtures: UP-Tuks (home), Madibaz (away)
What they need to do: UFS Shimlas are well placed to qualify for the semi-finals, given that one of their last two fixtures is against the battling Madibaz, who have won one match to date. If they beat UP-Tuks at home – and then go on to down the Madibaz in Gqeberha – they should be in a position to host a semi-final.
Log position: 2nd
Remaining fixtures: Wits (away), CUT Ixias (home)
What they need to do: The Ikey Tigers should be looking to secure a home semi-final over the next two weeks. Their next fixture will be a challenging one, given that Wits are still fighting for a place in the final four. They will be big favourites to collect five log points from their home game the CUT Ixias, who are in the running for the wooden spoon.
Log position: 3rd
Remaining fixtures: FNB UFS Shimlas (away), FNB UJ (away)
What they need to do: The pressure is on FNB UP-Tuks to deliver two wins in the last two matches of the league phase. They will go into the away match against FNB UFS Shimlas as underdogs, and may be hard pressed to claim any log points. At the very least, they should be targeting a big win over FNB UJ thereafter. That may be enough to earn them a playoff place, but they will have to travel in the semis.
Log position: 4th
Remaining fixtures: Madibaz (home), UWC (home)
What they need to do: If not for their recent loss to the Ikey Tigers, Maties would be well placed to top the log and host a semi-final. They’re still in a strong position, though, given that their last two fixtures are against two of the weakest sides in the tournament, and will both be staged in Stellenbosch. They should claim 10 log points from those games, but they may need one or two other results to go their way – such as an upset win for Wits over UCT – in order to finish the league stage in the top two.
Log position: 5th
Remaining fixtures: UCT Ikeys (home), NWU Eagles (away)
What they need to do: No other team faces a tougher road to qualification. After hosting last year’s finalists, they will travel to Potch to face an NWU side that is peaking at the right time. It would be unwise to write them off, though. If they beat the Ikey Tigers, they will travel to their final fixture with the belief that they can ground the Eagles and book a place in the semis. That said, they may still need a few other results to go their way in order to advance.
Log position: 6th
Remaining fixtures: CUT Ixias (away), Wits (home)
What they need to do: The Eagles have built some momentum in the latter stages of the competition. The big question is whether they’ve left their push for a semi-final spot too late. They need five points from their next clash with the FNB CUT Ixias, as well as a big win over an equally desperate Wits side at home. Even that may not be enough to earn them a place in the playoffs. They need a couple of the better-placed teams to stumble over the next two rounds.
Log position: 7th
Remaining fixtures: UWC (away) UP-Tuks (home)
What they need to do: Can UJ claim a full house of log points in both of their remaining matches? They may fancy their chances against UWC, even though the students from the Cape will be scrapping hard to avoid relegation. It’s a bigger ask to score a bonus-point win over the reigning champions, though – and UP-Tuks boast one of the best defences in the tournament. If UJ do achieve their objective, they will still need a few results to go their way.
Photo: ASEM ENGAGE/Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup