Varsity Shield preview (final)

Wits will go into Monday's decider against UKZN in Johannesburg as favourites.

The sides could not have had a more contrasting journey to the final.

Wits absolutely dominated the competition under new coach Hugo van As – who had a tough task of overhauling the structures and systems that were already in place with a young, inexperienced squad – to finish the round-robin phase unbeaten after eight games.

They scored an average of 51 points per game while only conceding an average of 20 – which contributed to their six wins and a couple of draws – to see them bag 35 log points that included seven bonus points.

Meanwhile, UKZN had to fight it out with UWC until the final round to book their spot in the final and a convincing win over Fort Hare saw them claim second place on 28 log points.

It was no easy task for the Impi en-route to the final as they succumbed to two defeats at the hands of their upcoming opponents in rounds three and eight, however, they managed to pick up the same amount of victories along the way.

The Impi have scored an average of 34 points per match while conceding an average of 21, but have struggled to make any sort of impression in the head-to-head matches between the sides.

The third-round fixture in Pietermaritzburg ended in a convincing 56-13 victory for Wits. The reverse fixture, in Johannesburg, was a slightly closer affair with Wits once again walking away with maximum points thanks to a 40-26 win.

But finals have a different intensity and atmosphere, and with the prize of being crowned champions on the line, it’s sure to be a tough battle.

By Michael de Vries

Photo: Catherine Kotze/SASPA

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Mariette Adams