Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Maties geared up to face surprise-package Wits


MATIES will be eyeing a second bonus-point win on the road when the Varsity Cup pacesetter­s take on second-placed Wits tomorrow (4.45pm kickoff – live on SuperSport 1).

The Stellenbos­ch side have won all four of their outings (three at home) to date, collecting three maximum hauls in the process for a 19-point total which puts the former threetime champions in the pound seats with a four-point lead over surprise package Wits, who in turn are a point ahead of 2015 winners Shimlas.

Ikeys, who have won two and lost two, sit fourth on 12 points while Pukke, who lifted the trophy for the first time in 2016, lie fifth.

UJ (sixth), CUT (seventh), NMMU (eighth) and Tuks (ninth), who are defending their title, complete the grid.

Maties scored nine tries last time out with No8 Marno Redelinghu­ys bagging three of them in a one-sided 75-12 victory over relegation-threatened CUT.

Wits in turn ground out a 32-29 away victory over Port Elizabeth-based NMMU, another side in the danger zone.

It was Wits’ third win from four starts, the blemish recorded at Shimlas.

But now they face an acid test against the Maroon Machine, who look the best team this campaign.

Maties have faced just one real test, which was two weeks back when seeing off a winless Tuks side that gave as good as they got.

A big, mean pack has dictated matters in the set-piece situations, not shying away from their primary roles and also enjoying getting stuck in to gain the ascendancy.

The back seven have also been prominent and weighed in with many a try.

The Cape side are likely to continue on their path towards the playoffs and the possibilit­y of a seventh final appearance in 11 years.

“We can ill-afford to underestim­ate Wits who, like us, have a big pack,” said Maties coach Hawies Fourie.

“And they did beat Tuks as well to announce themselves as potential contenders.

“I believe the boys are primed and ready to deliver the goods.”

Ikeys are a lot better than they have been for the past two years.

They’ve been competitiv­e in all games and could well end in the top four when the regular season ends.

They have another home game at the Green Mile and how they would like to put one over holders Tuks, who are enduring a horror campaign.

Yes, the winless youngsters from Pretoria find themselves at the foot of the table having lost three in a row.

Maybe the bye they had last week came at just the right time.

They will come to the Mother City wanting to set the record straight and, if they do come away on the right side of the result, begin the climb towards a place of safety and possibly still make it into the play-off zone, something that’s not out of the question as they do still have six games to play.

Shimlas host fourth-placed UJ in what should be a cracking encounter at Shimlas Park in Bloemfonte­in (7pm kickoff – live on SuperSport 1).

The hosts will be chasing a second win from three outings while the visitors from Johannesbu­rg will want to return to winning ways following last week’s narrow defeat to Pukke.

NMMU entertain Potchefstr­oom’s Pukke in the remaining fixture.

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